Sunday, December 30, 2012

Death for Lanza

I was relieved when I learned Newtown, Connecticut, shooter Adam Lanza killed himself before police could apprehend him. Had he been arrested and tried, he would not be eligible for the death penalty, a punishment he duly deserves.

In fact, since April 2012, no one, no matter how heinous his crimes, is eligible for the death penalty in Connecticut. The bleeding hearts rejoice, for there is no longer risk of executing an innocent man. But the risk remains for condemning an innocent man to life in prison. The difference is a matter of degree. Since no justice system can be mistake-free, the logical conclusion of their argument is the eradication of all punishment.

The repeal of the death penalty would not have happened had it applied retroactively to current death row inmates. On July 23, 2007, Steven Hayes and Josh Komisarjevsky broke into William Petit’s house in Cheshire, Connecticut, and raped and murdered his wife and two daughters, 17 and 11. They were sentenced to death in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Said the Connecticut governor in 2009, when the bill to repeal the death penalty first passed his desk:

The crimes that were committed on that brutal July night were so far out of the range of normal understanding that now, more than three years later, we still find it difficult to accept that they happened in one of our communities. I have long believed that there are certain crimes so heinous, so depraved, that society is best served by imposing the ultimate sanction on the criminal.

If what he said was true then, it remains true now. The prospect of Hayes and Komisarjevsky surviving their crimes was asking too much for Connecticut lawmakers. So they applied abolition of the death penalty only to pending and future cases. But, as recent history has shown, Hayes and Komisarjevsky are not the last monsters to take the lives of innocents in Connecticut.

The gift of life is infinitely precious. To steal it from someone is the worst of crimes. God breathed life into man, whom He created in His image, which explains His wrath reserved for those who destroy it. I quote Genesis 9:6:

Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Letter to a prospective gun owner

Dear Mr. Dooley,

Our background check reveals you are unfit to own a weapon. Your application for a gun license is thereby denied.

The Bureau weighed several factors in your case to reach this conclusion. First, your political activity reveals treasonous intent. Since 2004, the year you were first eligible to vote, you have not once voted for a Democratic candidate. In 2009, you attended a violent rally outside the Capitol and openly called your congressman a liar. In 2012, you signed a petition to repeal marriage equality in Maryland. Unable to cope with progress, you moved from Maryland to Texas, a state infamous for its fierce provincialism and claims to secession.

Second, in your social media posts you acknowledge a love for your fellow man, but a contempt for America’s laws and the patriots who enforce them. These laws were duly passed by a sincere, benevolent government, elected by the people, for the people. True love would be to respect your fellow man’s decisions, not to romanticize a less evolved state of mind.

Finally, the strength and number of your associations betray an independent lifestyle, leaving you subject to unregulated, malicious forces. Reading, hiking, sports, friendly get-togethers, and chatting up women are not efficient habits for a 21st century man. Your recent affiliation with a church is most troubling. The church curricula, consisting of “The Bible”, is full of anecdotes reveling in racism, heteronormativity, and exclusivity. Throughout this questionable text runs the theme of “God’s law” superseding the government and giving individuals a moral imprimatur for disobedience. The risk of you taking such a message seriously was a main factor in our decision.

In short, Mr. Dooley, the government exists for your protection. Disobeying it makes you a danger to yourself and your neighbors. The Bureau fears your owning a weapon will heighten that danger.

Clinging to the vestiges of an outmoded past, rife with inequality and bigotry, is to condemn oneself to isolation in our modern age. However, we have not lost hope for you. Upon denying your request, we registered you with local authorities who are eager to train you in the principles of true progress and equality. Expect a personal visit within 3 to 7 days of receiving this notice. In preparation for your visit, read the attached pamphlets instructing you how to participate in and take advantage of American democracy. As a fully recognized member of the body politic, you will join us in the boundless future. Together we will reverse man’s sordid history and liberate his flawed relationship with nature.

Once you are fully engaged in this collective project, you will enjoy enormous benefits, the likes of which you see today...

  • Zero-Interest Loans
  • Minimum Wage
  • Unemployment Insurance
  • Free Daycare
  • Medicare
  • Social Security

And more! This is only the beginning, though. We look FORWARD to making contact with you. :-D

Sincerely,
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Department of Homeland Security

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cliff dwelling

Like most problems, the so-called fiscal cliff started as a solution to another problem: runaway deficit spending. Said runaway deficit spending was supposed to “stimulate” demand and pull us out of the Great Recession, caused in no small part by the deflated housing bubble. The housing bubble was supposed to solve the non-problem of biased (i.e., “responsible”) lending practices.

’Round we go, healing ourselves into an ever higher perch on the infinite cliff. What should we expect when proposed solutions don’t go after the heart of the problem? Federal spending has more than doubled since the ’90s, but revenues have risen only about a third. Trillion-dollar deficits are not a result of undertaxing, but overspending. Seventy percent of the federal budget is comprised of assistance payments to individuals. The problem then is not just overspending, but overspending on welfare.

In 2011, when the Tea Party Caucus in Congress rankled at raising the debt limit, Speaker Boehner cut a deal with President Obama to put off the day of reckoning: the fiscal cliff, comprising future tax hikes and future defense cuts, whilst slowing the pace of government growth ever so slightly.

That reckoning is now—or it should be—and our wise leaders are talking about how terrible the deal they struck 17 months ago is. To prevent tax hikes, Boehner has proposed…tax hikes, but not enough for the spendthrift president. “I get that for free,” he said, in Chicago brawler mode. Tax hikes on the wealthy, even if they resulted in a net gain in revenue, will barely dent the deficit, and will certainly hurt job creation.

Continued class struggle is Obama’s preferred solution, and he’s sure to get it with tax hikes for the top 2 percent. If Boehner takes the deal, Obama can take credit for averting tax hikes for the 98 percent, while said 98 percent are made worse off by a besieged upper class that hides its money in mattresses instead of making human and capital investments. If Boehner deep 6es the deal, Obama will happily take the money from all the tax hikes coming on January 1 and blame Boehner for his recklessness.

Either way, we can look forward to doing it all over again this time next year.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Odds and ends 12/22/2012

Leading off this week, Peter Ferrara tells the truth about the maligned Bush tax cuts in Forbes:

According to official IRS data, the top 1% of income earners paid $84 billion more in federal income taxes in 2007 than in 2000 before the Bush tax cuts were passed, 23% more. The share of total federal income taxes paid by the top 1% rose from 37% in 2000, before the Bush tax cuts, to 40% in 2007, after the tax cuts.

In contrast, the bottom half of income earners paid $6 billion less in federal income taxes in 2007 than in 2000, a decline of 16%.

...

These Bush tax cuts did not explode the deficit, as Obama and his echo chamber have alleged. By 2007, the deficit was down to $160 billion, less than 15% of Obama’s deficits today. Total federal revenues soared from $793.7 billion in 2003, when the last of the Bush tax cuts were enacted, to $1.16 trillion in 2007, a 47% increase. Capital gains revenues had doubled by 2005, despite the 25% capital gains rate cut adopted in 2003. Federal revenues rose to 18.5% of GDP by 2007, above the long term, postwar, historical average over the prior 60 years. CBO was projecting surpluses to return indefinitely in 2012 through the end of its projection period in 2018.

Bush did increase federal spending as a percent of GDP by one-seventh, erasing the federal spending cuts enacted by the Republican Congressional majorities in the 1990s. But even with that, deficits during the Bush years averaged just 2% of GDP, one-third less than the average over the prior 50 years. President Obama’s deficits have averaged 5 times as much, at 9.1% of GDP.


In “The working class epidemic of demoralization” over at The Week, Matt Lewis writes:

Economies change, and it would be wrong to suggest that we should use the forces of government to prevent this evolution. A free market demands that some businesses fail while others succeed. Towns also fail. Unfortunately, this means people fail. It would also be wrong of us not to acknowledge that there are real-life consequences to this “creative destruction.”


Josh Barro lays out the case for “progressive” economics at Bloomberg. His prescription, further expansion of the already bloated nanny state, is wrong, but there’s his diagnosis is commendable.

Since the 1970s, wage gains have decoupled from productivity gains and the median family has therefore reaped a disproportionately small share of the benefits of growth. Conservatives are left without anything to say about this problem.

What can they say about it? I have a few ideas, though I don’t think conservatives are likely to like any of them too much.

One, as I discuss at greater length here, is that they can take up the cause of cost control in health care and higher education, the effect of which would be to raise real incomes for the middle class. The rising cost of health benefits has been a key driver of middle-class wage stagnation. Unfortunately, many of the policies actually likely to control costs in these sectors are interventionist in a way that makes conservatives recoil.

Another possibility is greater high-skill immigration. Globalization has been disproportionately beneficial to high-skill workers in developed nations: they have seen the prices of products fall as manufacturing shifts to low-wage countries, but their own jobs are insulated from foreign competition. Letting in more foreign doctors and engineers should drive down wages in skilled professions and the cost of the services those professionals provide, raising real incomes for lower-income workers who already face wage competition from other countries. Reducing occupational licensing requirements would similarly raise real incomes.

But the big problem for conservatives is that these policies cannot fully substitute for progressive fiscal policy. The dirty secret about the last 30 years’ rise in pre-tax income inequality is that we probably can’t reverse it. Instead, we will have to rely on policies that ameliorate it on an after-tax basis – that is, the dreaded redistribution of income, or “spreading the wealth around.”


In a sweeping National Journal article, Jonathan Rauch explains the bad economy’s disproportionate impact on men:

Most measures of earnings look only at the incomes of men who work; as the top line of the chart shows, their earnings have gone nowhere for the past 40 years. That measure, however, overlooks the large and growing population of men who don’t work. If you add them to the mix and thereby look at the earnings of all American men, including nonworkers with zero income, you get the middle line. Think of it as a misery index for the male population. The median man in America, by this measure, is almost 20 percent worse off than he was four decades ago. The misery line sinks still lower, of course, for all men (working or not) with a high school degree but no college; their median earnings have fallen 40 percent.

Harder to quantify, but probably at least as important, are the social consequences of the broken link between less-educated men and work. Work, for men, means more than money: It connects them to their communities, makes them more attractive as mates and more successful as spouses, and is a linchpin of their self-esteem. When they don’t work, their role in the community tends to wither, harming the places where they live as well as themselves. Their family lives suffer, too. More and more often, less-educated men are strangers to marriage.

Both men and women have suffered from the disappearance of well-paying mid-skilled jobs in factories and offices. But they have responded very differently. “Women have been up-skilling very rapidly,” said MIT’s Autor, “whereas men have been much, much less successful in adapting.” Women have responded to the labor market’s increased preference for brains over brawn by streaming through college and into the workforce—one of the great successes of the U.S. economy. Men’s rate of completing college has barely budged since the late 1970s.

To women, men who either can’t or don’t earn a decent living are less necessary and desirable as mates; they’re just another mouth to feed. This helps to explain why rates of out-of-wedlock childbirth have risen to hitherto unimaginable heights among the less educated. Causality also flows in the opposite direction. The very fact of being married brings men a premium in their earnings, research shows, and makes them steadier workers, presumably because they have more stability at home. “Marriage is an institution that makes men more responsible in their pursuit of work and in their work-related duties,” said Brad Wilcox, a University of Virginia sociologist who directs the National Marriage Project.

You can see where this leads. Nonwork makes men less marriageable; non-marriage makes men less employable; the cycle repeats. This is slippage No. 4: Low-earning men are decreasingly able to form stable families. That, in turn, harms their children and communities. “Social capital disintegrates as you have a combination of drop in participation in the labor force and the disintegration of marriage,” said Charles Murray, a scholar with the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the author of Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.

I finished reading Coming Apart a month ago. Excerpts found here.


Greg Forster at Hang Together responds to Rauch’s observation that productivity gains have separated from production/non-supervisory workers’ wage gains (or lack thereof):

Wages are still tracking productivity just fine; the gap in wages across social classes is caused by a gap in productivity.

There you have it.


Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy reminds us of the hubris humanists stand for (via Rod Dreher):

These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.

Kennedy unwittingly reveals multiculturalism’s fatal flaw. A society cannot survive without broad consensus on moral ends.


The all-powerful state convinces itself that it can take care of everyone by neutralizing each person’s power to obtain whatever he wants. We replace it with whatever the state will give. The “cost” is that we cannot hold ideas and beliefs. They are the real causes of our struggles with one another. The price of peace is state control of ideas and religion. – James V. Schall


“Freydis” describes nihilism:

While an acceptance of nihilism immediately returns a perspective of utter futility for life and universal existence, this perspective is not the final resolution. As Nietzsche once wrote in The Will to Power, “Nihilism represents a pathological transition phase...” Existence is not futile simply because the edifice of modern morality is inherently dysfunctional. Actually existence has even more purpose now because a proper perspective has been attained and a reason is finally clear – the complete destruction of the debasing, theologically derived moral order. Thus the nihilist is at base a creator of the highest magnitude and a survivor of the most intense metaphysical struggle of all time. The nihilist undergoes a personal evolution and has proven themselves the mental superiors to the herd and mob, they have proven their will and ‘license’ for continued existence and have successfully escaped from the circus of values. Once the transvaluation of values is complete an entirely new and sane perspective can be achieved

From here, I can see how nihilism degrades to naturalism, then hedonism, and finally a brutal will to power.


At The Art of Manliness, Brett and Kate McKay look at the decline of traditional honor in the West:

Traditional honor can only exist among a group of equal peers who enjoy intimate, face-to-face relationships. It is entirely external, and completely predicated on one’s reputation as judged by fellow members of the honor group. Without close ties, there is no one to evaluate your claims to honor, and thus the possibility of a traditional honor culture vanishes.

...

In cities and smaller towns alike, civic participation and community-mindedness has fallen significantly since WWII. And while honor formerly centered on one’s clan, extended families no longer live close together and familial relations have constricted to the nuclear family alone, which itself is often split up.

As a result of these shifts, immoral, unethical, and cowardly behaviors are rarely known outside one’s immediate circle of family and friends. And even then, for reasons we’ll discuss below, they are more likely to shrug and say, “It’s none of my business,” or, “To each his own,” than to condemn and challenge the errant behavior.

The internet has only accelerated the shift towards impersonal and anonymous relationships. Traditional honor is designed to act as a check on people’s claims to merit and force them to stand behind and defend their insults; exaggerations of one’s deeds or shameful actions are called out and challenged by one’s associates. On the internet, however, people can claim to be a Navy SEAL or issue the basest of insults to another person without having to prove their claim, suffer consequences for their character, or allow the insulted person to defend themselves. They can be anyone and say anything, all while safely ensconced behind a screen.


At National Review Lee Habeeb tells how he accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior:

In the fall of 2007, I became the most excited and reluctant convert in all northern Mississippi.

“What brought you to Christ?” my friends asked.

“Christians,” I replied.

“What took you so long?” was the usual follow-up.

“Christians,” I replied. The kind more focused on other people’s sins than their own.

I didn’t meet many of the latter. Much of what I thought I knew about Christians before I became one came through the lens of the media, which tend to ignore the contributions Christians make to American life. That is, when they aren’t actively denigrating Christians as mindless simpletons, or fundamentalists hell-bent on turning our country into a theocracy.


Rod Dreher reviews Nordic liberation. The second, third, and fourth paragraphs are excerpts from The Tyranny of Liberalism by James Kalb.

[Dreher:] Though the path hasn’t always been straight, one can discern over the course of the twentieth century an overarching ambition in the Nordic countries not to socialize the economy but to liberate the individual citizen from all forms of subordination and dependency within the family and in civil society: the poor from charity, the workers from their employers, wives from their husbands, children from parents – and vice versa when the parents become elderly…legislation has made the Nordic countries into the least family-dependent and most individualized societies on the face of the earth. To be sure, the family remains a central social institution in the Nordic countries, but it too is infused with the same moral logic stressing autonomy and equality. The ideal family is made up of adults who work and are not financially dependent on the other, and children who are encouraged to be as independent as early as possible.

...

[Kalb:] Human life is harder to change than are proclaimed social standards. It is easier to denounce gender stereotypes than to make little boys and little girls the same. The triumph of liberalism in public discussion and the consequent disappearance of openly avowed nonliberal principles has led the outlook officially established to embody liberal views ever more completely and at the same time to diverge more and more from the permanent conditions of human life. The result has been a growing conflict between public standards and the normal human understandings that make commonsense judgments and good human relations possible.

The conflict between public standards and normal understandings has transformed and disordered such basic aspects of social life as politics, which depends on free and rational discussion; the family, which counts on a degree of harmony between public understandings and natural human tendencies; and scholarship, which relies on complex formal rules while attempting to explain reality. As a consequence, family life is chaotic and ill-tempered; young people are badly instructed and badly raised; politics are irrational, trivial, and mindlessly partisan; and scholarship is shoddy and disconnected from normal experience. Terms such as “zero tolerance” and “political correctness” reveal how an official outlook deeply at odds with normal ways of thinking has become oppressive while claiming to have reached an unprecedented level of fairness and rationality.

...

What defines that regime is the effort to manage and rationalize social life in order to bring it in line with comprehensive standards aimed at implementing equal freedom. The result is a pattern of governance intended to promote equality and individual gratification and marked by entitlement programs, sexual and expressive freedoms, blurred distinctions between the public and the private, and the disappearance of self-government. To implement such a program of social transformation an extensive system of controls over social life has grown up, sometimes public and sometimes formally private, that appeals for its justification to expertise, equity, safety, security, and the need to modify social attitudes and relationships in order to eliminate discrimination and intolerance.


Via First Things, more wackiness from socialist France:

President François Hollande announced the creation of l’Observatoire national de la laïcité (roughly, “National Observatory of Secularism”) in 2013. The official statement specifically mentions only the development of propositions for a “public morality” to be taught in schools [Interior Minister Manuel Valls:] The aim is not to combat opinions by force, but to detect and understand when an opinion turns into a potentially violent and criminal excess. . . . The objective is to identify when it’s suitable to intervene to treat what has become a religious pathology.

Except for cuddly secularism.


More on France. William Sullivan writes on French socialism and natural law:

John Locke observed that natural laws exist, independent of any system of government, and among these are not only the individual’s fundamental right to life and liberty, but also a right to “property,” which can be described as the product of a person’s labor and enterprise.

Most Westerners would say that they accept this assumption in theory, but due to a curious caveat in human nature, many only limitedly accept it in practice. An individual will typically be far more concerned with the preservation of this natural right to “property” when it is his own “property” that is targeted for seizure. The Occupier of Zuccotti Park, for example, may find it a travesty that a homeless man steals his wallet to subsidize a livelihood, but when a homeless man has his livelihood subsidized by someone else’s wallet in a transaction brokered by the government, the incident somehow becomes noble and necessary.

It is the tragic flaw by which the grand ambition of socialism has always failed, and will always fail. Human nature resists any attempt to seize one’s property beyond what he would willingly give. This is the very basis of the social contract between a free man and a just government. A man chooses to take part. If that social contract is amended to be uniquely biased against his right to property, absent his consent, he may rightfully exercise his right to liberty and seek avenues to establish a new contract with a government, either by revolution or, more commonly today, expatriation.


Dean Kalahar writes on the bald immorality of socialism at the American Thinker:

If morality is defined by private property, meaning that a person has a right, based on natural law, to their person and their possessions, and if property is generated by the productive and wealth creating behavior of a person’s labor, then it follows that it is an infringement on an individual’s rights to use any force (murder, theft, rape, etc) to injure or take away one’s property. Using the productivity of another for one’s personal gain is immoral.

We can then extrapolate from this premise. If taking the productive output of a slave and using it for another’s personal gain is immoral; then taking the productive output of any worker and using it for another’s gain is also immoral, no matter what race, color, gender, or socio-economic status the producer happens to be.

Logic leads us to one conclusion. A modern form of slavery has been embedded within the welfare state. And no matter how you slice it, property theft to promote a false ideology of “fairness” or advance a twisted form of “compassion” to gain power is abhorrent. It does not matter how many ribbons and bows decorate the rhetoric of “Robin Hood” redistribution, the final analysis is the promotion of servitude.

Redistributive ideology is not about a safety net for the truly needy or the necessity of government to tax in order to perform its proper functions of protecting people, property, and enforcing the rule of law. President Obama may call redistributive efforts “economic justice,” or “economic rights,” but in the end, using the power of the state to confiscate property is as immoral as taking the wealth created by a slave to benefit the slave owner.


Rev. Robert Sirico writes about Michigan’s new right-to-work law at the Acton Institute:

Michigan’s new right-to-work law is neither “unjust” nor will it “foster extreme inequality.” The law simply gives working people the freedom to choose whether or not they want to be members of a union. What’s more, they are not forced to pay union dues or agency fees as a condition of employment. Another word for this is freedom.

Historically, the Catholic Church has looked favorably on unions — with exceptions, of course. The Church sees unions as one way to look after the well-being of workers and their families. However, this favorable bias does not mean that workers are obligated to join a union, nor that management is obligated to accept the terms of a union. The right to join a union, in Church social teaching, is rooted in the natural right of association, which of course also means that people have the right not to associate. Which is exactly what this legislation addresses; it protects workers from being coerced to association with and paying fees to a group with whom they would rather not join.


Quin Hillyer writes at the Center for Individual Freedom that President Obama is negotiating the “fiscal cliff” in bad faith:

Back in the last talks 18 months ago, Obama reportedly originally asked for $800 billion in new revenues. Then he demanded $1.2 trillion, but said it could all be accomplished without higher rates. Now he demands $1.6 trillion, and says he won’t even come to the table unless rates are raised (not just loopholes and deductions limited) on exactly those he always has targeted, those couples making over $200 annually. Plus, rather than limiting spending, he is demanding more “stimulus” largesse and an unlimited, automatic extension of the debt limit.

So, even with Boeher now offering higher rates for those actually making $1 million or more a year — a HUGE concession for Republicans — Obama has rejected that out of hand, and did so within an hour or so.

This man has no interest in keeping the government solvent. Just the opposite: He obviously wants it to spend, spend, spend, and grow, grow, grow, no matter what. He’s playing a long-term game, for total federal-government control, no matter what the short-term damage he does.


We’re facing a moral cliff, writes Peter Cove for Real Clear Policy:

If you are bothered that we might go over a fiscal cliff, think again. Our march toward a moral cliff is its taproot. The moral cliff is the ever quickening erosion of core values and our growing expectations of government. Slowly slipping away are individualism and commitment grounded in hard work, personally doing good and the proper role of citizens within the society. Alexis De Tocqueville, the French historian who penned Democracy in America based upon his own experiences, would not recognize what we have become. In his own words, “No Americans are devoid of a yearning desire to rise…not only are desires boundless, but the power of satisfying them seems almost boundless, too.” We have since changed and the results have eroded our belief in industriousness and how much government must provide. We have journeyed from the serving the deserving poor, to all are deserving. The safety net has become a version of the game Dialing for Dollars where all can play and most win.


We close with reflections on the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre. Rod Dreher writes:

Absent a total and draconian ban on weapons, how do you write a gun control law that can prevent a middle-aged suburban Connecticut woman who enjoys target shooting from buying guns?


Daniel Greenfield puts in:

The issue isn’t really guns. Guns are how we misspell evil. Guns are how we avoid talking about the ugly realities of human nature while building sandcastles on the shores of utopia.

The obsession with guns, rather than machetes, stone clubs, crossbows or that impressive weapon of mass death, the longbow (just ask anyone on the French side of the Battle of Agincourt) is really the obsession with human agency. It’s not about the fear of what one motivated maniac can do in a crowded place, but about the precariousness of social control that the killing sprees imply.

...

It’s about guns that shoot people and people that are irrevocably tugged into pulling the trigger because society failed them, corporations programmed them and not enough kindly souls told them that they loved them.

Mostly it’s about people who are sheltered from the realities of human nature trying to build a shelter big enough for everyone. A Gun Free Zone where everyone is a target and tries to live under the illusion that they aren’t.

Greenfield strikes again:

You wouldn’t blame a dog for overeating; you blame the owners for overfeeding him. Nor do you blame a dog for biting a neighbor. You might punish him, but the punishment is training, not a recognition of authentic responsibility on the part of the canine. And the way that you think of a dog, is the way that the left thinks of you. When you misbehave, the left looks around for your owner.


Dennis Prager writes:

The moral values and the conscience of nations as well as individuals seem to play almost no role in the left’s understanding of human behavior.

That is why the left wants all nations, including the United States, to destroy their nuclear weapons. The problem for the left is not the moral values nations hold, it is the weapons nations hold. American nuclear weapons were just as troubling to the left as Soviet nuclear weapons during the Cold War and just as troubling as Iran having nuclear weapons today. So, too, the problem of gun violence in America is not the moral values of gun owners, it is gun ownership.


A silly Bryce Covert writes at The Nation:

The urge to confront mass killings by telling every American to purchase his or her own personal arsenal—a call many heed, as gun sales usually shoot up after a massacre—is a step toward individualism and away from a civilized society. Individually, in the face of unpredictable violence it can make sense to want to arm oneself to respond to what may come. But that means a lack of trust in our common goal of safety for all.

Agreeing to ignore the instinct to pick up more guns means trusting that the police will show up to answer your call, that you’ll be treated fairly by our criminal justice system, that our laws will be enforced in a way that truly prevents violence. Our system fails at many of these goals. But the alternative is each citizen being a private army of one, on the defense against all others around him.

Nonsense. Covert draws a picture of primal man against primal man. The self-evident binding of people to communities eludes her. The fact is gun-carrying citizens are a boon to public safety.


Doug Hagmann writes at the Canada Free Press:

The more introspective and spiritually grounded among us will instead fall to our knees and cry out, “why have we allowed this to happen?” But those hearing our cries will fail to understand that we are not blaming our system of laws, but our own acquiescence and failure to honestly confront our unquestioning acceptance of evil. We realize that we cannot fix spiritual problems and repair moral deficits with the legislation of man. We will never be successful in fixing spiritual problems with political solutions. Yet few have the courage, insight or willingness to address this very foundation of our existence as a people and a nation.

By permitting the perversion of our core spirituality from a new age ideology that has replaced or redefined our spiritual values, the blood of innocents are on our hands as well. By our own acquiescence to moral and spiritual perversity cleverly packaged as tolerance, we have embraced the very evil that is embodied within tolerance. In that form, tolerance itself becomes evil, and we become enraged at the mere symptoms of a great spiritual problem rather that the problem itself.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Free to choose

In “Retrograde dependency,” I looked at how the Nurse Ratched character from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest smothered her patients’ freedom by keeping them dependent on her. I originally intended to juxtapose her with the Grand Inquisitor from The Brothers Karamazov, but decided to save the material for a later post. Here it is:

Nurse Ratched needs her patients to need her. There is something twisted about how she seduces them into dependency. All of them are at the psych ward by choice. None of them begs to controlled. She provides as if she is obligated to provide, and the patients accept out of a sense of guilt, out of fear of offending her. This pattern holds true for most of the book, before she has McMurphy lobotomized.

On the other hand, the Grand Inquisitor’s motivation is compassion. Because people suffer from the choice between living like Jesus and living for themselves, the Inquisitor deliberately bastardizes Jesus’ teachings of what it means to love God and to love thy neighbor. He takes the choice from them, buying their complacency with bread, order, and kingdom (Matthew 4:3-10), the same bribe that the devil tempted Jesus with and that He rejected.

“Nothing has ever been more insufferable for man and for human society than freedom!” the Inquisitor declares. He justifies the end, human happiness, by the means, enslavement. He argues for compassion, contra Jesus’ “ambivalence.” He says: “Respecting [man] so much, you behaved as if you had ceased to be compassionate, because you demanded too much of him.” Jesus expected people to choose Him for themselves and to reap the consequences, good or ill. According to the Inquisitor’s tragic view of human nature, that is too much to expect from the masses. Rather than stand by and allow people to flounder between salvation and idolatry, he seeks to “correct [Christ’s] deed.” This phrase is important, because it establishes the Inquisitor’s justification for burning Jesus reincarnate with the other heretics; to him, salvation through Christ is the real idolatry.

Woe unto the man who preaches the truth, for the truth of salvation contains the unbearable uncertainty of worldly suffering. Should he try sincerely to worship God, should he rebel against the Inquisitor’s monopoly on salvation, the Inquisitor will execute him.

C.S. Lewis had people like the Grand Inquisitor in mind when he wrote:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Not “black” enough

As ESPN commentator Rob Parker demonstrated last week, “blackness” is not about skin pigment. It’s about internalizing a culture of dysfunction, grievance, and entitlement; a culture of degrading rap music and sagging pants, male incarceration and broken homes, high unemployment and welfare dependency.

Esteemed blacks who refuse to identify with black victimhood, who are not “down with the cause,” are subject to myriad epithets, including but not limited to “cornball brother,” “house nigger,” and “Uncle Tom.”

Under this retrograde regime, blacks form a racial bloc perpetually exacting “vengeance” on imaginary white oppressors. This manifests itself as virulent prejudice against the habits and behaviors of the successful.

That in itself is bad enough, but Leftists enable a cycle of failure by conflating anti-“blackness” (aka conservatism) with outright racism. As Investor’s Business Daily notes, the conservative agenda “[appeals] to everybody equally on issues that cross ethnic, racial and gender lines.” But blacks consistently vote against their interests because “blackness” has a death grip on their worldview.

The American Left’s obsession with race began with Karl Marx’s obsession with power and class. His goal was class warfare, the proletariat rising up against the bourgeoisie, resulting eventually in the banishment of all classes. Then all would be equal. In post-Jim Crow America, Leftists harp on race to the same effect. But it’s difficult to see utopia resulting from the demonization of virtue, which is what the race war is all about.

Read this breathtaking excerpt from New York Times op-ed contributor Adolph L. Reed, Jr:

[Tim Scott’s] politics, like those of the archconservative Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, are utterly at odds with the preferences of most black Americans. Mr. Scott has been staunchly anti-tax, anti-union and anti-abortion.

One can only infer that wealth redistribution, forced union membership, and murder of the unborn are in blacks’ best interest. And if they’re in blacks’ best interest, why wouldn’t they be in everyone’s best interest, this being a colorblind society and all? Death grip indeed!

For more on this topic, read Lee Habeeb’s article at National Review.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Divisive is not a bad word

Mitt Romney was naïve to think he could win the election by playing the middle. He should have learned from John McCain, who used the same failed election strategy in 2008, albeit with more sincerity.

As I said during the debates, Romney, to his discredit, eschewed major differences between himself and President Obama. He thought if he gave Obama a small target to hit, he could dodge Obama’s punches, run out the clock, and let the judges decide in his favor.

In the end, the man who stood for something beat the man who stood for something else—what, exactly, the voters weren’t sure. Note to Republicans: Just because the Left writes the rules doesn’t mean you have to play by them.

According to the Left’s rules, voters want representatives who can set aside their egos and “come together” to “get something done” for the good of the country. They don’t want icky conservatives. Conservatives are divisive and obstructionist. Gross!

What is the middle but the unprincipled (if not naïve) median between right and wrong? On any given issue, some people get it right, others get it wrong. The middle appeals to neither. The middle appeals only to people who are vain enough to call themselves moderates.

Beware the middle, a political identity lacking political ideology. Beware its spokesmen’s whiny lamentations about the divisiveness of political discourse. Beware their vain calls for unity and compromise. The virtue of “getting something done” relies on what that something is. Doing nothing would be better.

At the onset of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt tried everything. “He hiked taxes, spent more money, established monopolies, enforced cartels, filed antitrust lawsuits, promoted compulsory unionism, multiplied business regulations, denounced investors, and started welfare programs, public works projects, a big entitlement, on and on,” writes the Cato Institute’s Jim Powell.

Roosevelt was averse to inaction. One of his famous quotes was: “Do something. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn’t, do something else.” In other words, err on the side of action.

While Roosevelt’s dogged action endeared him to voters, his policies worsened the Great Depression. In 1939, the seventh year of his presidency, unemployment stood at 19 percent. Henry Morgenthau, Roosevelt’s Secretary of Treasury, said in the same year: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work...We have just as much unemployment as when we started.”

Too bad the Republicans can’t effectively communicate the successful principle of government inaction to the American people. Truth be told, “getting something done” is really the Left’s version of taqiyya, Arabic for “deception.”

If opposing that is divisive, so be it. Division is the consequence of difference predicated by moral and natural law, which we ignore to our peril.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Odds and ends 12/15/2012

Emily Esfahani Smith, writing in the Atlantic, contributes an invaluable but ultimately misguided article to the gender issues canon:

After the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s, which insisted on the equal treatment of women in all domains of life, feminists dismissed chivalry as sexist. They still do. A new study, published in the feminist journal Psychology of Women Quarterly, questions the entire enterprise of male chivalry, which, in an Orwellian flourish, it calls “benevolent sexism.”

Chivalrous behavior is benevolent because it flatters women and leads to their preferential treatment. But it is sexist because it relies on the “gendered premise” that women are weak and in need of protection while men are strong. “Benevolent sexism,” Kathleen Connelly and Martin Heesacker of the University of Florida write in the study, “is an ideology that perpetuates gender inequality.” They advocate interventions to reduce its prevalence, even though, they found, chivalry is associated with greater life satisfaction and the sense that the world is fair, well-ordered, and a good place.

Charles Murray, the libertarian social scientist at the American Enterprise Institute, summed up the study with tongue-in-cheek, writing “the bad news is that gentlemanly behavior makes people happy.” He goes on to ask, “When social scientists discover something that increases life satisfaction for both sexes, shouldn’t they at least consider the possibility that they have come across something that is positive? Healthy? Something that might even conceivably be grounded in the nature of Homo sapiens?”

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Historically, the chivalry ideal and the practices that it gave rise to were never about putting women down, as Connelly and other feminists argue. Chivalry, as a social idea, was about respecting and aggrandizing women, and recognizing that their attention was worth seeking, competing for, and holding. If there is a victim of “benevolent sexism,” it is not the career-oriented single college-aged feminist. Rather, it is unconstrained masculinity.

We’re all better off when masculinity is chained to the preservation of society. If there’s a victim of chivalry’s demise, it’s beta women and women past ideal childbearing age.

Don’t miss this terrific anecdote:

A story from the life of Samuel Proctor (d. 1997) comes to mind here. Proctor was the beloved pastor of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church. Apparently, he was in the elevator one day when a young woman came in. Proctor tipped his hat at her. She was offended and said, “What is that supposed to mean?”

The pastor’s response was: “Madame, by tipping my hat I was telling you several things. That I would not harm you in any way. That if someone came into this elevator and threatened you, I would defend you. That if you fell ill, I would tend to you and if necessary carry you to safety. I was telling you that even though I am a man and physically stronger than you, I will treat you with both respect and solicitude. But frankly, Madame, it would have taken too much time to tell you all of that; so, instead, I just tipped my hat.”

It’s in the third to last paragraph where the article runs off the rails:

If women today—feminists and non-feminists alike—encouraged both men and women to adopt the principles of civil and chivalrous conduct, then the standards of behavior for the two sexes would be the same, fostering the equality that feminists desire. Moreover, the relations between the sexes would be once again based on mutual respect, as the traditionalists want. Men and women may end up being civil and well-mannered in different ways, but at least they would be civil and well-mannered, an improvement on the current situation.

Current gender relations do not lack manners or civility. It lacks a proper understanding of how special women are to men and how women want to be treated.


From the “war on men” files (courtesy of Suzanne Venker at Fox News):

To say gender relations have changed dramatically is an understatement. Ever since the sexual revolution, there has been a profound overhaul in the way men and women interact. Men haven’t changed much – they had no revolution that demanded it – but women have changed dramatically.

In a nutshell, women are angry. They’re also defensive, though often unknowingly. That’s because they’ve been raised to think of men as the enemy. Armed with this new attitude, women pushed men off their pedestal (women had their own pedestal, but feminists convinced them otherwise) and climbed up to take what they were taught to believe was rightfully theirs.

Now the men have nowhere to go.

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All the articles and books (and television programs, for that matter) put women front and center, while men and children sit in the back seat. But after decades of browbeating the American male, men are tired. Tired of being told there’s something fundamentally wrong with them. Tired of being told that if women aren’t happy, it’s men’s fault.

Contrary to what feminists like Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men, say, the so-called rise of women has not threatened men. It has pissed them off. It has also undermined their ability to become self-sufficient in the hopes of someday supporting a family. Men want to love women, not compete with them. They want to provide for and protect their families – it’s in their DNA. But modern women won’t let them.

It’s all so unfortunate – for women, not men. Feminism serves men very well: they can have sex at hello and even live with their girlfriends with no responsibilities whatsoever.

Cue obligatory snark from liberal intelligentsia about the virtues of “progress.”


Helen Alvaré writes of the price women pay for universal contraception in the Public Discourse (second in a three-part series):

The effects of contraception at an individual level (i.e., if used according to directions, it regularly prevents pregnancy) are different from its effects on a social scale. When contraception is made available on a social scale, especially with abortion as its backup (in the United States, for example, most women who seek abortions were using contraception in the same month that they became pregnant), it alters the relationship market to women’s disadvantage. Together, contraception and abortion lower the most apparent “risk” of sex, while squarely placing on women’s shoulders the burden to avoid both a pregnancy and a live birth. With the risk lowered, more women make themselves available for nonmarital sex.

Relatedly, women thinking about refusing sex to any man are acutely aware that another woman will surely say “yes.” Caught up in a “prisoner’s dilemma,” each woman, on average, is more likely to understand sex as the price of maintaining a relationship, and therefore to concede, even though women are far more likely than men to prefer that sex take place in the context of an ongoing relationship.

Alvaré goes on to quote a letter penned by a woman on the Women Speak for Themselves list. It brings the sad reality of modern gender relations home:

I live in a part of the U.S.A. remarkable for the number of 30-something single women whose prospects for marriage and motherhood are declining by the day. Among college educated in my area, there is a birth rate as low as Singapore or Greece. These women are high achievers who bought into the “career first” mindset. They truly believe that women’s freedom and achievement cannot be separated from sex-without-standards, and abortion. … At the same time, they’re starting to feel lonely and insecure. The career is not as fulfilling as they thought it would be and some have struggled with unemployment. The dating scene was fun and exciting during their college years and their twenties, but now it’s getting harder to meet eligible men. Most have several failed relationships behind them, and carry quite a lot of emotional baggage. Meanwhile, the men they’d like to meet have become wary and are making every effort to date younger women. … Their best prospects will be divorced men 10 to 15 years older. Typically, these divorced men have a first family and often they’re unwilling to marry and give the thirty-something woman a baby. A “relationship” is easier.

The fruit of the sexual revolution is loneliness. The only way out is for women to confront the things they believe, that just aren’t true, and change their ways.


Alvaré concludes in the final installment of the series:

For women’s freedom, defined in the terms of the HHS mandate (achieving fewer unintended pregnancies and abortions) or in other terms (reducing poverty, increasing educational and employment opportunities, increasing access to marriage, and reducing divorce) is actually, empirically, better achieved when women and men practice the virtues and disciplines expressed in the Christian churches’ conscientious objection to the mandate. The Judeo-Christian scriptures provide the firmest possible foundation for a belief in the absolute equality of women and men: co-equal creation in the image of a divine God. Younger Catholic women, and many women of other Christian denominations, too, are far more attracted to Catholic teachings on contraception than outside commentators realize.

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Religion’s thick and beautiful rationales for keeping in mind the links between sex and new life can help restore balance to our national discourse about sex and marriage and parenting. Not only women, but especially vulnerable women, and also society itself, would be better off if religious witness were allowed to live.


Faith and Meredith Kuzma write of women, motherhood, and abortion:

Motherhood is a woman-centric human right, yet motherhood does not happen in a void. The biological reality of reproduction is the point where choice begins for many women – the women who are being asked, “Are you keeping it?” These are the women who have expressly chosen the path of life through choosing union with a man.

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“Are you keeping it?” carries the supposition that the child just might be discarded by abortion, carried out with the garbage. An abortion mill tells the woman that her baby (and the woman herself, by extension) is disposable. Similarly, asking a woman whether she’s keeping her baby twists the declaration of human life – “You’re having a baby!” – into “Are you keeping it?,” a social mechanism that attempts to contain the entire implications of reproductive rights ideology but fails to capture any scrap of human dignity for the mother or child.

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The feminist definition of woman, which seeks to divorce the reality of motherhood from a woman’s psyche, fails to recognize the language of the female body itself. Women are uniquely equipped with a baby-specific space inside the body; this means not that motherhood is some sort of a requirement or that a woman can’t feel “whole” without it, but rather that this body language – expressed in the biological realities that science outlines – says that a woman in union with a man will be filled with new life.


At First Things, Kevin Staley-Joyce writes about the slippery slope on marriage:

If recent conceptions of marriage have already pitched our ideas about monogamy, permanence, and gender complementarity, there seems to be no independent reason against excising marriage’s essential orientation toward the “other” as well. But if marriage’s contours are flattened such that the institution no longer involves a union, it seems fair to assume it no longer has any real meaning at all.

Perhaps [Millie] Kerr and others who’ve entertained single-party marriage are tongue-in-cheek. But the reasons she posits for marital recognition in the first place reflect the fundamentally postmodern prerogatives of the marriage revisionist movement. Kerr is far from the only writer whose intuited vision of marriage is, as she says, “a time when people travel from afar to bring you gifts and toast your life decisions.”

This is the sort of thing that makes priests and pastors wince. Many of them, I suspect, would recommend against marriage for a person whose first aim was to be celebrated for reaching a milestone.


Archbishop Charles Chaput writes:

The real religion of vast numbers of American young people is a kind of fuzzy moral niceness, with an easy, undemanding God on duty to make people feel happy whenever they need him. It’s what Smith calls “moralistic therapeutic deism.” To put it in the words of a young woman from Maryland, “[Faith is] just whatever makes you feel good about you.”

I have been secular all my life, and lately have I undertaken a transformation that does make me feel good, but not in a superficial or carnal way: I am more selfless, cheerful, and open. In other words, in loving others more, as God’s only begotten son did, I am feeling more of God’s love.


Rod Dreher of the American Conservative is my kind of blogger. Expect to see more of him in this space from now on. Here he takes on same-sex marriage:

The issue is framed entirely in terms of the black civil rights struggle — which leaves no room for an appropriate consideration of how something as important as religious liberty to American life should factor into our deliberations.

Here Dreher takes on the deterioration of faith and family, and what that means for the civil society:

In America, the family has historically been a key mediating institution between the state and the individual. But we are not the country we used to be. With traditional religion weakening — that is, with younger people either abandoning religion altogether, or substituting the ersatz Moralistic Therapeutic Deism for the real thing — and with a political and commercial culture focused on exalting the individual and his desires, achieving stable family formation is becoming an ever more countercultural phenomenon. The demographic trends Last identifies are taking America into a future of social atomization and dependency on the state.

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Churchmen believed a social structure that broke up the ever-feuding clans and gave the individual more freedom would be better for society’s stability and spent centuries reforming the European family toward domesticity. The natalist worldview advocated by churchmen knit tightly religious faith, family loyalty and child bearing. From the 10th century on, the domestic family model ruled Europe through its greatest cultural efflorescence. But then came the Reformation and the Enlightenment, shifting culture away from tradition and toward the individual. Thus, since the 18th century, the atomistic family has been the Western cultural norm.

Here’s the problem: Societies ruled by the atomistic family model, with its loosening of constraints on its individual members, quit having enough children to carry on. They become focused on the pleasures of the present. Eventually, these societies expire from lack of manpower, which itself is a manifestation of a lack of the will to live.


From the “genderless” files:

Says Jan Nyberg, Top Toy executive (hat tip AFP):

With the new gender thinking, there is nothing that is right or wrong. It’s not a boy or a girl thing, it’s a toy for children.


Then there’s this story (courtesy of National Review):

A construction crew working on the campus of Ohio’s Sinclair Community College was forced to halt work until it removed a “Men Working” sign that was deemed “sexist” by a college administrator.

This isn’t the first time a construction sign upset an uppity feminist (courtesy of Fox News):

Political correctness rules the road in Atlanta — which is replacing all its “Men at Work” signs with gender-neutral ones after a women’s magazine editor complained of bias.

The project, which involves painting over the existing 50 “Men at Work” and “Men Working” signs with those that say simply “Workers Ahead” or “Workers,” will cost a total of $1,000, Atlanta Public Works Commissioner Joe Basista told FOXNews.com.

About half of the city’s 100 Public Works employees are women, said Basista, so he complied with PINK magazine editor Cynthia Good’s request to stop warning passersby of men at work when women were right there alongside them.

This defies belief. How many women in Atlanta are really out there with the men, lugging jackhammers, pouring concrete, and scaling telephone poles? Not half the Public Works Department, I bet.

It could raise eyebrows when Good goes national with her crusade — which she’s planning to do.

“We’re calling on the rest of the nation to follow suit and make a statement that we will not accept these subtle forms of discrimination,” she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A do-gooder doing bad.


“What’s Wrong with Public Nudity?” asks Dennis Prager in the Jewish Journal:

The San Francisco Examiner reported about one of the protesters at the San Francisco Supervisors vote:

“As he pulled his pants up, a nudist named Stardust said the legislation sent the wrong message. ‘It’s telling people they should be ashamed to be naked, and that’s totally wrong,’ he said.”

But to those who believe in Judeo-Christian values, telling people to be ashamed about being naked in public is not totally wrong. It’s the whole point.

The first thing Adam and Eve discovered after eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was that they were naked. And the first emotion they ever experienced was shame over their nudity.

San Francisco, America and the west are going to have to choose whether Stardust or the Bible is right. By one vote San Francisco decided in favor of the Bible. But a judge, who may well have Stardust’s values, is yet to rule.


Here’s another Jewish Journal gem. Paul Johnson writes on intellectuals’ attraction to despots:

What leads intellectuals, otherwise skeptical of most phenomena, to adore such monsters? Hobsbawm was by trade a historian. According to his left-wing admirers he was “brilliant;” in the opinion of the rest he was “unreadable.” He was also spectacularly ugly. The theory among cynics is that Hobsbawm was so angry with G0D for making him hideous that he was determined to back whoever was G0D’s most resolute opponent. And in Hobsbawm’s youth, that was Stalin.

A more serious suggestion is that intellectuals love power and the satanic figures who embody and exercise it. It’s amazing, looking back, to realize how many intellectuals supported Hitler long after he’d begun to display his evil nature.

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Mao Zedong was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 70 million of his countrymen, yet Westerners were among his warmest admirers. One of them wrote: “[China is] a kind of benign monarchy ruled by an emperor-priest who had won the complete devotion of his subjects.” David Rockefeller praised the “national harmony” of Mao’s China, which produced not only “more efficient and dedicated administration” but fostered “high morale and community of purpose.” Another American visitor said “law and order … are maintained more by the prevailing high moral code than by any threat of police action.”

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Intellectuals, whom I define as those who think ideas are more important than people, are notoriously bad at seeing the ordinary world and coming to moral decisions about it. I knew the two greatest intellectuals of their age, Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre, and whatever one might think about their writings, they were the last people one could appeal to for advice on anything practical, especially if it involved moral issues. I suppose Eric Hobsbawm fit into this category. Like them, he was a man so blinded by his own intellect that he was unable to see the evil and wickedness staring him in the face.


Seniors decry ban on Christmas tree in their complex in Newhall:

Frances Schaeffer, who is Jewish, said she doesn’t understand the property management company’s stance.

“This tree is a symbol of reverence that we can all enjoy regardless of our religious beliefs,” she said.

Let me help Ms. Schaeffer out: You don’t live in America anymore. You live in a secularistocracy, where even the possibility of an atheist or non-Christian taking offense at a Christian symbol makes businesses quake in fear of a lawsuit.


A porn addiction is a terrible thing (via the UK Independent):

One respondent said he was a 30-year-old virgin who has never had a girlfriend or dated. “Porn has distorted my view of real women and I now think my natural libido is not what it should be,” he explained. “Porn has been a comfort blanket for my anxieties but at the same time helped to increase them while stopping me from facing up to my problems and living my life to the full.”


At First Things, Elizabeth Scalia critiques the Catholic Reporter’s endorsement of ordaining women, and she strikes on familiar truths:

If “no one can say” who God can and cannot call to the priesthood, then why do we have interview, testing, and discernment processes? Why can’t we all just be priests, any time we want? If corporeal anatomy is completely unconnected to a human being’s essential nature (and this is an argument put forth by feminists and the gender-fixated, who will often pronounce it in one breath only to promote the “sacred feminine” in the next) then why did God design differences at all? By doing so, he created boundaries and barriers, which are clearly unwanted things. Why didn’t God fashion just one human type, without limits to what that type can do, in order to free humanity from the constraints of form and function which impact “God’s [own] ability to call one of God’s own children forward...” to do the things they really want to do, whether the Church thinks they ought to, or not?

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The Dictatorship of Relativism loves to argue that there is no truth, except the truth it likes; that nothing means anything except as one’s own conscience assigns meaning, and that authority, therefore, is an illusion that must be questioned continually, until the proper answer is attained. The proper answer, of course, is the one asserted and promoted by the relativists and once it has been achieved—and a new authority is in place—then all questioning of authority must cease. Because that authority—their authority—will have become the truly all-just, the truly all-good and all-merciful. And woe to those who do not recognize it.


At the American Conservative, Dreher colleague Samuel Goldman considers the birth rate and our culture of autonomy (re: “A future to outlast our lives”):

The master value of the modern West isn’t enjoyment, but personal autonomy. And it’s hard to pursue your own goals in your own way when encumbered by offspring, particularly in the numbers necessary to population growth.

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There’s not much government can do to encourage people who regard children as a burden to produce them. Only a major cultural change could do that. In this respect, the demographic future of Western societies may depend on the fate of their religious traditions much more than on their tax codes. I’m not holding my breath for neo-liberals to acknowledge that.


On the falling birthrate, Walter Russell Mead has this to say:

The falling birth rate is a sign that American society is failing one of its essential tasks: we are failing to provide an environment that allows a new generation to begin building families and bringing their children into the world. Between crippling debt burdens and relatively high unemployment, young people are opting out of starting families.


Albert Mohler offers advice on how to recover the American family:

The social pathologies pile up in shocking statistics, but the greater tragedy is the injury in individual lives. Christians know that the family cannot save us. Only Christ can save. But we also know that God loves us and that he has given us marriage and the family for our protection and flourishing. The church must face the truth that the family crisis is, first of all, a theological crisis. Christians must recover a biblical understanding of the family and live before the world, celebrating and sharing the joys and satisfactions that the Creator gives us in this precious gift. We must live honestly before the world, knowing that our honest acknowledgement of our own need for God’s grace in our marriages and families is a testimony to our need for the grace of God shown us in Jesus Christ.

J. Matt Barber exposes the Southern Poverty Law Center for its Left-wing activism masquerading as civil rights advocacy at Renew America:

The SPLC launched another in a series of politically motivated attacks against a well-respected Christian organization. The group arbitrarily tagged as an official “hate group” Americans for Truth about Homosexuality (AFTAH).

AFTAH promotes biblical morality, opposes the radical homosexual activist lobby and publicly decries both violence and hatred against homosexuals or anyone else. Although it has been in operation for a number of years, the SPLC only recently labeled AFTAH a “hate group” after being pressured by the Chicago-based “Gay Liberation Network” to do so.

GLN is a fringe group of self-described Marxists and sexual anarchists best known for disrupting peaceful Christian gatherings with raucous, bullhorn laden protests. In a twist most ironic, GLN leader Bob Schwartz once threatened AFTAH founder Peter LaBarbera in front of witnesses, telling him that if the police weren’t present at a rally, he would have pushed LaBarbera into oncoming traffic. (“Hate crime, anyone?” Love that “tolerance” and “diversity.” Where’s the SPLC when you need them?)

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If AFTAH is a “hate group,” then so is Liberty Counsel, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, American Family Association, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Roman Catholic Church. Any group that observes and defends traditional sexual morality would have to be labeled such.

Heck, for that matter, so would the U.S. Armed Forces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA. These groups publically expose the undeniable medical and societal pitfalls associated with the homosexual lifestyle and, therefore, must be “hate groups,” right?


You know who should be labeled a hate group? Dan Savage. Robert Oscar Lopez writes a riveting article on “mean gays” in the American Thinker. Here’s an excerpt:

The crudeness of “anti-bullying” Dan Savage is traumatizing, yet he gets encouragement from gays and lesbians who pattern their personal attitudes after his politics. This is what passes, in Dan Savage’s world, as civilized behavior: outing people, combing through the personal lives of people like Ted Haggard with righteous nosiness, fantasizing about sodomizing Rick Santorum, making fun of Marcus Bachmann’s lisp, calling Christian students pansy-assed and the Bible “bullshit,” and dismissing gay Republicans as “house faggots.” Now, well into middle age, he has a reality show on MTV that allows him to troll around college campuses talking to nineteen-year-olds about kinky sex.

Dan Savage isn’t alone. If anything, he brandishes tactics that countless gays and lesbians have learned: stay offensive, hurt others before they hurt you, gather allies around you through sarcastic mockery, and humiliate until you get your way. That’s how women held each other back for thousands of years. That’s how soldiers led each other into innumerable acts of fratricide and sabotage.


Loran Blood smacks a home run:

The present occupant of the White House, and the party of which he is an iconic if standard feature, was born into and suckled upon the milk of zero-sum economics, perennial class antagonism, class envy, and a neo-feudal status centered mentality of human relations. Like many of his generation and worldview, he is convinced there is a “better world” possible in which humankind can be redeemed and made whole through a moral regeneration imposed by sheer force of will by the state and by the cleansing influence of a purifying ideology. With the dawning of the Obama era, and a renewed animus toward free-market economic relations and the key importance of the individual to a free society, this mentality is in process of arriving at its apogee.

The real mortal world in which we live, however, is a world of constraints and tradeoffs, not one of ultimate answers and solutions that can be willed and applied as a series of “programs” that will reconstruct and reconstitute a social order along a predetermined theoretical course.

Human beings have a fundamental, underlying essence that channels human behavior and perception down certain corridors and through certain doors within the context of our earthly experience. We usually just call this “human nature,” and both religion and historic philosophical reflection, most especially of a conservative temper, place it in a preeminent position above the grand theoretic abstractions of ideology.

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In what way could individuals and local communities ever really make a difference, in the larger scheme of things, when the causes of poverty are not to be found in the nature of the human condition itself, and in the vicissitudes of individual mortality, but in purposefully entrenched, structural, institutional inequalities and injustices that must perpetuate poverty to perpetuate the affluence?

Obviously, only a powerful, centralized, vigorous, watchful, and morally transcendent government is equal to such a task, if poverty really is of this nature. Government must be understood, not only as competent to administer manna and change water into wine, but as being in a position of moral exclusiveness with relation to the private sector and sphere of American life.

...

If not for a tireless, compassionate, and morally-exclusive class of politicians, bureaucrats, and social workers, politically and intellectually supported by another morally exclusive intelligentsia within academia, the media, institutional politics, and the arts, what, it has been asked for generations, “would become of us?” The great transference of our responsibilities to and compassion for the weak and needy among us to those who are not, precisely, among us, and who have no obvious greater claim to compassion, conscience, caring, or human empathy than any other citizen from any other walk of life within the private sector, has had a devastating effect upon the underlying fabric of civil life. The very idea that, without federal government welfare (and hence, without the ministrations of the morally exclusive dispensers of welfare services), American society would fray and deteriorate into a Hobbesian state of dog eating dog in a race to the bottom, has removed the authentic concept of charity from the private sphere by moving poverty itself beyond the realm of individual action and effectiveness.


Kimberly Strassel writes on the president’s history of bad negotiating in the Wall Street Journal:

The man now engaged with Congress to work out a grand deal is the same one who could not pull over to his side a single Republican vote for his stimulus legislation, who had to ram through ObamaCare with procedural tricks, and whose inept handling of last year’s debt-ceiling talks ultimately led his fellow Democrat, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to isolate him from the final negotiations. This is not a history to inspire confidence.

It does not. Obama approaches negotiations in two ways: as professor and as bare-knuckle brawler.


Let’s end on a high note. Never-married, over-the-hillbilly Bill Croke writes in the American Spectator:

Young men can take heart: In the future they will at least be useful as sperm donors.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Civil neglect

Here’s a too-familiar headline: “Single White Male Goes on Murder Spree.”

Here’s another one: “Shooting Tragedy Renews Calls for Gun Restrictions.”

I bet you won’t see this one: “Society Fails Murderer and His Victims.”

It did, you know, and despite my personal attraction to this subject, it gives me no pleasure writing about it. None. It pisses me off so much that I spent much of the afternoon on the verge of tears just thinking about it. The proof is in the pudding: Fifty years of revolution have left “we the people” ill-equipped to deal with our own problems.

A big reason we have nanny government is what used to be strong, tightly knit communities have largely abandoned the idea of self-governance. In our age of self-obsession, we have debased the ties that bind us. Breakdowns in faith, family, and vocation are contributing factors. So is the radical dissociation of place we have undergone in a global, more centralized economy.

Regardless of the pathology, there’s no mistaking the symptoms. A motivated people, engaged in each other’s lives, notice and take action when one of their own slips into the margins. When citizens disengage, a distant, bloated government can do only so much to fill the void. The margins widen, swallowing more people.

Last Sunday Pastor Mark at the church I’m considering joining told a story of how he drove past a young man selling newspapers on a street corner, a young man who, by the look of him, needed help. Pastor Mark didn’t stop, because (in his words) “I don’t like complications.” I am guilty of the same. Countless times I’ve neglected to help strangers in my neighborhood because I was so preoccupied in my own doings.

The Newtown, Connecticut, shooter is described in this article as “obviously not well” by a relative. If it was obvious, why didn’t people make an effort to reach out to him? Family, friends, neighbors, teachers, church leaders...How many saw the struggling young man and yet did nothing? For how long did Adam Lanza stew in quiet rage while everyone avoided him, fearing “complications” in their lives?

Lanza is the latest single white male mass murderer in a line of single white male mass murderers. The collapsing structures of the civil society leave few avenues through which a young man like him is socialized. As I’ve written before, men’s wayward energies need to be channeled towards the good and civilization, lest they emerge from prolonged adolescence an enemy of his peers. Key to his identity is action as prescribed by the culture via male role models. Since the middle of the 20th century, we have gone from Gregory Peck and George Patton to Justin Bieber and Charlie Sheen.

Men are capable of terrible things, with or without guns. The answer is not to disarm, but to make enough good, strong men to stop the bad ones. If society wishes to survive, making good men is a project it must undertake.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

To themselves indentured

Under chaste attire she in vain obscures
Fertile female gifts assuring new life
The plenty for which mortal man inters
His self in rash pursuit of love and wife
She for whom, or ’gainst whom, he molds the earth
A wretched conflict equality wrought
Eschewing her faculty to give birth
For whose honor virtuous men once fought
To share the field is modern misfortune
His feats, her form, reduced to each other
Tipping procreation t’wards dysfunction
Fate of unseeded womb, childless mother
The sexes sidle past life denatured
Stretching scarce time to themselves indentured

Monday, December 10, 2012

Density, dependence, destruction

I’ve wondered lately whether the approaching twilight of Western civilization is the inevitable consequence of its success. That with “progress” our institutions would so evolve from their origins that we would no longer be able to discern the basic truth of ourselves. And then we slide back into a state nature, only to rediscover the truth and start over again.

The Democratic Party stands for what its leader, President Obama, calls “fundamental transformation.” It stands for reorienting nature towards the party’s own ends. It stands for liberating us from the rules woven into the fabric of our world and our existence. It stands for dashing the old traditions of community and placing in their stead a society of individuals obedient to “enlightened” governance.

It makes perfect sense, then, that the Democratic Party wins the majority of its support in American cities, where civilization (i.e., the erosion of humanity) is furthest along. Reading the 2012 election returns, Dave Troy spells this out. Our cities are dense with people and our creations. They are like monuments to ourselves, attracting us like moths. Whereas in ancient times the city was a fortress to protect people from invasions, now it serves as a permanent bulwark against confrontation with nature. There’s too little earthly wisdom in the city, because in the city there is no earth.

Take the city slicker out of the city, away from the thousands of people he’s codependent on, away from everyone he pays and votes for to make his life easy, away from his Internet and modern appliances. And stick him in the countryside where he has to make things with his hands to survive, where the sprawling, unprocessed earth beckons him to back-breaking labor. The stark, physical, hardscrabble reality terrifies the city slicker. It exposes the frailty the city sheltered him from. Ironically his way of life in the city wouldn’t be possible without people who lived the hard way.

In the country is a daily commune with nature. Political community is stronger because one is surrounded by the mortal threat of complete solitude. People are kinder, more helpful, and—yes—dubious of outsiders upsetting the delicate order of things. That order is never perfect, but it is the best that can be done, and most importantly it is self-regulating. That isn’t the case in the city, where the bystander effect reigns supreme, order is imposed from the top, and mutual anonymity discourages neighborliness. The functions of political community are better left to various levels of government and disembodied corporations.

Such a system is “efficient,” as Troy points out. This is the party of the Left’s measuring stick: “efficiency.” It sounds good, until it’s used to squelch human enterprise. Troy goes on: “An America that is not built fundamentally on density and efficiency is not competitive or sustainable.” I don’t see how permanent urbanization is in any way sustainable. If specialization is forever the future, we can look forward to being human cogs in a great, inhuman machine, cloistered from the earth God made us to live in.


Cross-posted at the Red Pill Report.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Odds and ends 12/7/2012

When I’m not writing, I’m reading, and I’ve been reading a lot lately.

R.J. Snell reviews What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense at Public Discourse:

For two people to be bodily united, “their bodies must coordinate toward a common biological end.” More than touching, however pleasant, and more than emotional bonding, however intense, “it is a remarkable fact that there is one respect in which this highest kind of bodily union is possible between two individuals, one function for which a mate really does complete us: sexual reproduction.” Our organic systems are perfectly sufficient in maintaining systemic union without the body of another except in sexual reproduction, and there, “and there alone,” the sexual difference of man and woman allows a coordinated activity toward a common end that neither can perform alone.


A peek into William Tucker’s futuristic dystopia:

Up they went, the Department of Big Business, the Department of Small Business, the Department of Multicultural Affairs, the Department of Multilingualism, the Bureau of Nutrition, the Commission on Contraception, the Board of Bullying, the Bureau of Self-Esteem. The old Department of Health had been divided and subdivided so that each certified disease now had its own wing – divided by class, race, and gender as well – all fighting furiously for inclusion in federal insurance policies and grappling for research appropriations so that if a staffer from the Division of African-American Asthma were to encounter someone from the Division of Varicose Veins Among Working Women there was bound to be a confrontation.

...

The idea that there was a land that stretched beyond the reach of Washington was concentrated into the simple phrase, “Out There.” There was indeed an Out There, although it was sometimes hard to remember. It was all readily accessible on VR and that was all that mattered. A representative from the Department of Education could easily attend a meeting of the Sioux Falls School Board to help them decide whether failing to provide a separate locker room for gay and lesbian students constituted sexual discrimination.

...

Yet somehow a sense of lethargy still hung over the country. People who visited Out There reported it unanimously. Everyone seemed dispirited. Small towns were boarding up their shopping malls, farming was in the hands of impersonal corporations that were beginning to import Senegalese farm hands (registering them with The Party, of course). The family farm was fading so that people speculated which was likely to disappear first, the farm or the family. The 15 percent unemployment rate was ameliorated by five-year benefits that included college tuition, but this only seemed to breed a population of scholar-gypsies who migrated from one institution to the next, collecting degrees in art history and holistic medicine while complaining there were no jobs available in their field. The Bureau of Skills Adjustment had been set up to deal with the problem.


In a similar vein, Glenn Harlan Reynolds compares America to Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, specifically how the Capital lives in luxury at the expense of the district:

Washington is rich not because it makes valuable things, but because it is powerful. With virtually everything subject to regulation, it pays to spend money influencing the regulators. As P.J. O’Rourke famously observed: “When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.” But it’s not just bags-of-cash style corruption. Most of the D.C. boom is from lobbyists and PR people, and others who are retained to influence what the government does. It’s a cold calculation: You’re likely to get a much better return from an investment of $1 million on lobbying than on a similar investment in, say, a new factory or better worker training.

So Washington gets fat, and it does so on money taken from the rest of the country: Either directly, in the form of taxes, or indirectly in the form of money that otherwise would have gone to that factory or training program.

The more accurate analogy, in my opinion, is the America we live in now is the prerevolutionary America that preceded the 13 districts.


At First Things, David Corbin and Matthew Parks pick apart the idea of government-managed economy:

During the Virginia debate over the ratification of the Constitution, Patrick Henry reminded the assembly: “You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of government.” For most of our history, the American people have understood that while prosperity and military might may be the fruits of liberty, they are not the “direct end of government,” as Romney and Obama seemingly agreed, right to the end.


Russel E. Saltzman critiques an article on cohabiting couples he read in The Lutheran in 1997:

From a certain reading of the Lutheran confessions, marriage may be regarded as a sacrament, though not cited among the chief sacraments. It was viewed as a Christian vocation initiated in baptism, as calling and gift and obligation. The married couple sought to do in their home what the Church seeks to do in the world: Make the reality of redemption evident in the lives they touch and nurture. As I read Humanae Vitae, that’s not far from Paul VI.

The article in the 1997 issue of The Lutheran missed marriage entirely. But that is what happens when marriage is divorced from the construction of family. At heart, I think this necessary connection between marriage and family formation is what Paul VI sought to preserve.

The male half of the cohabiting couple featured by The Lutheran was quoted: “At this point, emotionally, spiritually, mentally there is nothing I could gain from marriage that I don’t already have.”

Oh? How about the task and joy, the duty and delight, of serving Christ in the public vocation of marriage, that necessarily intrinsic connection once existing between sex and marriage?

Culturally, marriage no longer has a purpose beyond self-fulfillment. The Lutheran‘s article was an implicit admission of it. The couples sought fulfillment of self in each other. There is nothing wrong with that, but it can become thin gruel if it is the only purpose.

Saltzman goes on to quote Paul VI in response to coarse treatment of women:

Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection. (HV 17)

Cause and effect: When childbearing becomes a choice, men cherish women less. When women compete with men, men compete back.


Quin Hillyer’s greatest hits on Obama.

On the flipside, the liberal media’s greatest hits on Republicans (courtesy, once again, of Quinn Hilyer):

Cheney and Romney aren’t as bad as Rick Santorum, though – at least not in the eyes of MSNBC’s Martin Bashir, who, quoting George Orwell’s 1984, compared the Pennsylvanian to “the forces of darkness and treasonable maggots who collaborate with them” – or maybe to the guy in 1984 who denounced those maggots (it’s not exactly clear). Bashir then cited a critic’s gibe that Santorum “has one of the finest minds of the 13th century,” before adding his own conclusion: “If you listen carefully to Rick Santorum, he sounds more like Stalin than Pope Innocent III.”

Compared to that, it was almost a compliment when the New York Times’ Bill Keller told, yes, MSNBC, that “Sometimes Santorum sounds like he’s creeping up on a Christian version of Sharia law.” Yeah, conservatives especially liked the part of Santorum’s platform approving of wife-beating in response to denial of sex – but only because the invisible ink in the platform noted that former New York Times editors-in-chief could be substituted for wives at any time during the beating process.

Paul Ryan of course wasn’t exempt from vitriol. The oft-loved Maureen Dowd wrote that “Ryan should stop being so lovable. People who intend to hurt other people should wipe that smile off their faces.” Not to be outdone, Esquire‘s Charles Pierce – a prior winner of the MRC’s single worst quote of the year when in 2003 he wrote that if Mary Jo Kopechne had lived, “Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age” – described Ryan as a “zombie-eyed granny-starver…an authentically dangerous zealot…a smiling, aw-shucks murderer of opportunity, a creator of dystopias in which he never will have to live.”


Jared E. Peterson, writing in the American Thinker, almost makes the logical leap from cultural debasement to declining fertility rates (re: “A future to outlast our lives”).

Only the West – and, really, only the West’s elites – has become infected with the fatal virus of civilizational self-loathing.

At some point during the 60’s – that wrongly celebrated but actually destructive time – shallow and over privileged members of my own post-war generation got the idea that our civilization’s errors (slavery, the industrial scale brutality of WWI, WWII, the excesses of industrial pollution, our own 19th century colonialist arrogance towards others) meant that we are not merely imperfect (a useful insight), but that we are perfectly bad (the reduction of a useful insight to self-destructive absurdity).

And so America’s educational system, gradually echoed by its popular culture, began teaching that falsehood to our children, along with the risible lie that all other cultures, especially stagnant and unproductive ones, are profoundly admirable.


Christopher Chantrill of An American Manifesto looks at why Romney lost, and forward:

The voters are right in voting for Democrats. Those folks who have lost out in the aftermath of the Great Recession are probably never going to rise again. Many of them, we know, are settling for a disability pension, and are getting ready to live out the rest of their lives on the dole. So they are voting for the dole. That’s a good idea as long as the checks keep coming.

So what happens next?

You can choose the Marxist prophecy, which says that the change in the economy changes the relations between people and prompts the creation of new “classes” mobilized to fight against injustices visited upon society by the old regime.

Or you can choose the moral movement notion, that politics is moved by moral movements, such as Great Awakenings, that work their way into politics and change the rules of governing.

If Obama is the fruition of a moral movement that started in the ’60s, another moral movement is beginning to gain steam now. Chantrill predicts what it will be, via the American Thinker:

I suspect that it will be more direct and personal, about the way that the sexual revolution and the welfare state have marginalized the lives of ordinary people, and women in particular. Scratch a woman, I believe, and you will find an instinctive faith in marriage, children, and modesty. Our liberal ruling class has taught women to value instead sexual liberation, careers, and childlessness, but these are the values of privileged upper-crust women, not ordinary women. Sooner or later, I predict, women will turn away from their top-down re-educators, just like ordinary people did in the Great Awakenings.

We conservatives are already in touch with the woman-led pro-life subculture that is revolting against a Planned Parenthood world. Suppose that that subculture went viral and started to reach the tattooed single mother working part-time as a hairdresser? Suppose that some moral leader emerged who could speak to these women and awaken them from the sleep of ages to the astonishing idea that instead of being depressive welfare-state dependents, they could be responsible beings called to a life of purpose by a God that would never forsake them?


In a beautiful blog entry at Patheos, Elizabeth Duffy describes getting over the regret of an unplanned pregnancy:

If there is a “contraceptive mentality” in Catholic marriage, it has almost nothing to do with abstaining from sex to space babies. Rather, it’s about wanting to undo or interfere with something that’s already taken place. God pitched me a ball, and I wanted to throw it back, hard enough to leave a bruise. What a dumb idea it was to play this game.

...

It’s really difficult to pinpoint exactly when one’s feelings about a pregnancy transmogrify. Sometimes, it’s the moment you realize that the loss of it is really possible. Sometimes it’s with the baby’s first movement, which confirms in a way you’ve always suspected, that pregnancy isn’t really about you.


Michael Goodwin writes in the New York Post of the fracturing Republican Party:

Media sages insist the GOP must learn to love tax increases and the job of being the tax collectors for the welfare state. They must become pro-choice and “get over this obsession with life,” as one so-called conservative put it. The religious beliefs of Evangelicals, Catholics and others must be tossed overboard if the party wants to attract those single women who are married to the Democratic Party for birth control and abortion.


In light of totalitarian regimes’ instinct to break the cultural link to the past by separating children from their parents, this story from (formerly Great) Britain is predictable: “Foster parents ‘stigmatised and slandered’ for being members of Ukip: A couple had their three foster children taken away by a council on the grounds that their membership of the UK Independence Party meant that they supported ‘racist’ policies.”

The title and subtitle say it all. Coincidentally, it’s the foster parents’ conservative views on Britain’s unique culture that render them unfit. The next logical step is to say these “bigots” are unfit to be parents at all, and to limit their right to procreate.


Michael Tanner writes on the fiscal cliff negotiations at National Review:

There is a profound lack of curiosity when it comes to the other half of this supposed bargain. Remember that hypothetical deal of $1 in tax increases to $10 in spending cuts? Republicans are still being asked about it and criticized for rejecting it. But balancing the budget under that formula would require $9 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years. When was the last time the president or a Democratic congressman was asked whether or not they would agree to such a deal?

For that matter, it’s worth noting that more than half of Democratic congressmen and eleven senators have signed a pledge to oppose any changes to Social Security or Medicare. If pledges are the root of all evil, couldn’t we pause for just a moment in our attempts to run Grover Norquist out of town to work up the tiniest bit of outrage about this one?


A namesake and fellow truth warrior, Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Dooley, fights political correctness in the military establishment:

Lt. Col. Matthew Dooley, a West Point graduate and decorated combat veteran, was an instructor at the Joint Forces Staff College at the National Defense University, where he was reportedly popular among students and fellow staff members, FoxNews.com reports.

That all changed when Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, slammed Dooley and his “Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism” course during a Pentagon press conference in May, calling his teachings unprofessional and “against our values.”

I keep hearing our leaders refer to “our values,” but I have no idea what they’re talking about. Would the chairman care to define what he means by “our values,” and how calling a spade a spade in the war on Islamist radicals is against them?


Bill Frezza writes of “fairness” in Forbes:

President George W. Bush did more than any other president to increase both the total income tax revenue and the share of income taxes paid by the top 2 percent by cutting everyone’s marginal tax rate, allowing the economy and everyone’s income to grow. Yet no one would say his policies increased fairness because while everyone gained, the rich gained even more!

The inescapable conclusion is that making the rich worse off is a key test of “fairness.” When it comes to pleasing the Fairness Fairy, a dollar of income reduction from the rich is worth as much as a dollar of tax collection. And that is exactly where we are heading.


Two and a Half Men child star Angus T. Jones is undergoing a transformation, as I am, and I pray he comes out the better for it:

About nine months ago, there were a series of events in my life where God was talking through other people to me. What God was giving me was, “The way your life is set up now and the way you are living and planning on continuing to live [smoking weed, doing acid] is not going to get you what you want.”

...

I am completely comfortable in my own skin. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me. I am there for the Word. I am not there to impress anyone.

...

Charlie’s situation: he lived in a bubble, a total glass jar, and everyone knew everything about him. It’s such a strange life, and not human for a person to be able to live like that. Basically, the way I see it, he gave society what they wanted to see in a celebrity: that’s what society, in the end, wants a celebrity to be. They want this spectacle, they want this huge train wreck of a life so they can say, “I am not so bad.” It makes them feel better.


The subtitle alone is worth the price of reading this article in the American Spectator by George Neumayr: “Claptrap About Compromise: It is the establishment’s euphemism for collusion in corruption”:

The difference between bank robbery and politics is one of degree, not kind. But if you control the media, education, and culture, as the redistributionists in America largely do, politics as organized theft can be presented as good government. The “extremists,” according to this understanding of politics, are the ones who refuse to participate in the fleecing.

The whole fiscal cliff debate revolves around redistributionist hectoring that casts collusion in organized theft as compromise. Under the patronage of the media, the politicians most responsible for the debt get to dictate the terms of compromise to the ones least responsible for it.


Jeffrey Lord rips “quisling” Republican consultants:

The real problem the Republican Party faces is the rise of a political consulting class that feeds off the beast that is the federal Leviathan.

What Mr. Schmidt does – and by no means is he alone – is depend on the growth of government to so entangle the private sector that it needs people like Steve Schmidt to simply stay alive. So when it comes to candidates – or talk radio hosts or the Tea Party or anybody that wants to take an axe to the insatiable beast that demands your tax dollars – Schmidt and company will use their Establishment podiums to go after them.


Scott D. Farver writes in Education Week about how he started wearing a tie to school:

By the end of the first week, my 5th graders were asking me why I was so dressy, and one teacher scoffed, “Isn’t that a bit much for here?”

For better or worse, regardless of the comments, I stuck to my bet for a month and ended up really liking wearing a tie to school. I felt more professional. I felt more important. I felt like my students felt like they were more important. I decided to continue my bet for the entire year.

My male principal occasionally tossed on a bolo, which fit the school’s style quite well. Seeing this made me think a lot about what I was doing and gave me incentive to stick with it. Yet the comment from that one teacher ate at me. What did families and the other teachers think of me? Was it too much? Was I supposed to conform to the prevailing culture and dress more like my co-workers, even if sometimes I felt like they were too dressed-down for our profession?

Contrast that story with this headline: “NH Teachers Union Outraged: Teachers Told They Can’t Wear Flip-Flops And Tank Tops To School, Calls Policy ‘Derogatory And Condescending.’


First Things reports “Tigerman kills himself”:

This poor Brazilian man thought he was a tiger and did everything surgically he could to make it so. Dennis Avner has committed suicide.

In the end he was likely frustrated that he could not really be a tiger, though advocates would say he died from tigerphobia.

I mention this not to make light of a tragic situation, but to point out that surgery—however drastic—cannot change underlying psychological problems.

I predict a similar fate for “genderless” children raised by delusional parents. Such striking ambivalence of your very nature can do you in.


Peter Lawler writes on the plight of uncultured, hyperliberal millennials, represented by Lena Dunham:

Dunham is a genuine defender of women’s right to choose, but the girls she shows on Girls so rarely actually choose well. So we conservatives are tempted to say we have no reason to believe their voting behavior is better than, for example, their sexual behavior.

The girls on Girls—mostly graduates of elite liberal arts schools—have no idea who they are and what they’re supposed to do. They’ve been failed by their education and the whole way they’ve been brought up. Despite their privileged backgrounds, they have almost no manners and no morals. Well, the Dunham character—the most confused of them all—does manage to say thank you for any kindness or ambiguous compliment that comes her way. But she’s also just about never moved by generosity or charity or even ordinary self-restraint. The other girls have plenty of reason not to regard her as a good friend.

...

The quality of relational life on the show is often abysmal—with the resulting visit to the abortion clinic, STDs, various pathetic hook ups, and whiny pretend marriages. It turns out that these girls, like us all, want meaningful work and personal love, but they have very little idea how to find them. We just know those girls would be happier if they were more about living for something more than themselves, for, for example, some principle or some family or their country or even God.

...

The general message of the show is what’s wrong with these girls is that they lack character—and they are, to a point, victims of an easygoing world of privilege that deprives them of the experiences that allow them to develop character. And if you want a basically a conservative (or libertarian/productivity) indictment of what passes for “liberal education” these days, watch Girls.


Steve McCann summarizes the depressing circumstances in the American Thinker. The first line excerpted below calls to mind Francis Schaeffer’s inspired line from How Then Should We Live?:

This nation is living on the residue of the economic growth begun in the 1950’s and accelerated in the 1980’s. That tidal wave of prosperity has ebbed. The United States has entered into a death spiral of unrestrained spending, excessive taxation, printing near worthless money, and stagnant economic activity. Rather than be straightforward with the populace, the governing class is content to paper over the problem by the usual shell games of phony long-term spending cuts, more borrowing, and prevarications about the efficacy of raising taxes on “the rich.”


Congress implored to denounce sexual-orientation therapy.

Successful sex orientation therapy disproves the myth of sexuality as monolith, which is why the gay mafia wants to ban it.

Robert Stacy McCain of The Other McCain agrees.


The lucid and insightful gender issues writer Kay Hymowitz uses the Petraeus affair as a springboard to reveal some hard truths:

Powerful men cheat because even when they are 60, women still want them. And we judge those men because given the temptations, how else are we going to get them to behave?

Often enough, the women in question are young, beautiful, or, in the climacteric term in widespread use, “hot,” even if the men in question are not. In this respect, the world, and likely nature itself, remains indifferent to our rules of gender equality; with rare exceptions – Madonna, say, or heiresses with an eye for their groomsmen – peri- and post-menopausal women, even very powerful ones, are not nearly so alluring to younger men.

In the Petraeus affair, the contrast between the younger mistress and the older wife painfully illustrates this injustice. Commentators have made much of the “highly attractive” Paula Broadwell’s “curvaceous” body and “sculpted” arms; they have been notably less forthcoming in describing Mrs.Petraeus, and for understandable reasons. Let me simply put it this way; by all accounts a tough, loyal, and generous woman who deserved better from her husband of 37 years, the 59-year-old mother of two does not look as if she has been fending off many suitors in recent years. Her 60-year-old husband, on the other hand, is awash in female attention.


Collette Caprara writes of community’s effectiveness in dealing with Sandy at the Heritage Foundation (an eloquent rebuttal to “Mother isn’t there”):

Throughout this tragedy, the response of churches, community organizations, and neighbors was inspiring. Volunteers stationed near one closed FEMA office continued to hand out supplies. While thousands of families remained without temporary housing or heat two weeks after the disaster, in even the earliest days of the tragedy, residents north of 40th Street in Manhattan who still had power took in people who had lost theirs.

Church community halls and gyms teemed with donations that had been rushed in from across the country. These included more than 2,500 boxes of coats, winter clothes, diapers, and other supplies from Mormon congregations in D.C. and surrounding areas, which hundreds of volunteers sorted and loaded into five 26-foot trucks.

The immediate responses of neighbor-to-neighbor outreach in the first hours of the disaster were nothing short of heroic. In the devastated Belle Harbor community of New York City, one man created a lifeline from twine, rope, extension cords, and lamp cords that families clung to as they escaped from a raging fire through torrential flood waters in the streets. Another man moved through chest-high waters, shepherding two women—with a toddler on his shoulders—to safety.


Michael Goodwin writes of the double standard Israel is held to in the New York Post:

While the hatred is shouted with a clenched fist on the smoldering streets of Gaza City, equally absurd claims are made by striped-pants diplomats and left-leaning sophisticates who insist Israel is guilty of “disproportionate” force because it uses its huge military advantage.

Their argument moves the goal posts. They tacitly accept Israel’s right to respond, but only up to a point. No matter its losses, the Jewish state must never “escalate” because that would be unfair.

Think about that: Affirmative action has come to the battlefield, where the results must be level for the sake of fairness.


Over at Hang Together, Greg Forster describes a “Great Conjunction” of conservative themes into a coherent, unifying, explanatory worldview. This is the stuff that excites me.

In the lawsuits over Obamacare, the administration has asserted the theory that a profit-making business or a hospital or a school cannot be said to exist primarily for a religious purpose or mission. If the courts endorse this claim, Christianity has been made illegal. Christianity cannot be what it is if the total primacy of God’s claim on our lives and the mission he has given us in the world is not permitted to achieve institutional expression in all areas of life, rather than simply in churches narrowly defined. This is not to say that all Christians must attend distinctively Christian schools or work in distinctively Christian businesses; far from it. However, if the formation of such institutions is illegal, Christianity is illegal.

Romantic individualism has a contradiction at its core: it is not as individualistic as it thinks it is. It has always sought, and achieved, institutional embodiment – all while denying to itself that it seeks this. The two chief places it has been embodied are in the state - hence the need for a state-controlled “civil religion” in the Social Contract - and in educational institutions. The near-total triumph of Romantic individualism in these two sectors has coincided with a continual contraction of actual liberty for the individual, as both these types of institutions have become more rigid in imposing Romantic individualism as orthodoxy.

I think “Romantic individualism” is their phrase for what I call “humanism” and for what Mark Levin calls “statism.” Hm, maybe this “Great Convergence” would be easier to explain to the uninitiated if we called it the same thing...


Joel Gehrke reports in the Washington Examiner:

Sixty-three percent of college graduates believe that the American Dream is dead, leading some to consider moving out of the country, according to a survey conducted by a discount coupon company.

“We all have heard about the ‘American dream’ and we were curious to discover whether or not current graduates were still optimistic about their future,” said Mark Pearson, chairman of Couponcodes4u.com. “We were shocked to discover that the majority of the graduates polled believed that the American dream was dead and with increased debt, inability to find work and trouble finding affordable housing, it is no wonder they are quite pessimistic about their future.”

Such a dismal outlook is the driver of Millennials’ uncertainty.


“We need to start using the word female instead of woman. Woman is patriarchal word,” tweets Roseanne Barr.

This is foolish even from a feminist view, as the fundamental reality that men and women are different remains. What excising the word “woman” from our language does achieve is a clinical level of dehumanization. Imagine the Nazi reports to central command on the numbers of Jews murdered in a given week: “2,454 males extinguished Oct. 1 – Oct. 7. 3,029 females extinguished over same period.”


The pope addresses “practical atheism”:

Christian witness is always hard, [the Pope] said, because people are prone to “being dazzled by the glitter of worldliness,” but in the Western world sharing the faith is even harder today.

As he described it, the Christian faith was the everyday reality for most people in what used to be called Christendom. The burden was on non-believers to justify their disbelief.

But today the tables have turned following a long slide into atheism, skepticism and a secular worldview that was ushered in by the Enlightenment.

This, in turn, has paved the way for moral and spiritual disaster in the Western world. People have become confused about ethics once commonly held, making room for relativism and fostering “an ambiguous conception of freedom, which instead of being liberating ends up binding man to idols,” the Pope said.


A liberal college student at the University of Chicago smugly describes a liberal “Inquisition” on campus:

It’s a hard life out there for Republicans on our campus. They learn to avoid confrontation and deflect attention away from their political leanings. Whenever the subject comes up they’ll find renewed interest in what’s happening elsewhere in the apartment or in their fantasy football teams. Even when pinned down and forced to admit their wrongs, Inquisition-style, these Republicans have a number of evasive maneuvers at their disposal. There are a few things that you should look out for so that in your next Republican witch-hunt you don’t let them get away.

An apt metaphor for Leftism as dogma.


Let’s reach into the past for this article by Daniel Greenfield, on the futility of micromanaging society to avoid severe societal traumas like the Denver theater shooting:

We escape tragedy by searching for control and this is an obscene gift that we give to liberalism and its counterpart, the police state. Both promise us a better and safer world in exchange for our freedom. After every tragedy they promise us that they can keep it from happening again. They can’t. No one can.

The illusion of control attempts to tie James Holmes to some larger issue, whether it’s gun control or movie violence. It ignores the banality of individual evil, to make him into some larger monster that we can fight. But sometimes there is no meaning to evil except that it exists. No way to make sense of it or transform into a social crusade. Evil just is.


Shocker: France’s socialist government is redistributing marriage (via France24):

France’s Socialist government Wednesday approved a draft law to authorise gay marriage and adoption despite fierce opposition from the Roman Catholic Church and the right-wing opposition.

President Francois Hollande, who made the issue a key part of his electoral platform, told a cabinet meeting the move was “not only a step forward for some but for all of society,” government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said.

Platitudinous nonsense.