Friday, November 30, 2012

Sacrifice for change

To become a better person, you cannot leave yourself alone. You have to cajole and agitate yourself to change. Otherwise you will remain mired in the suffocating confines of your limited self.

It does not start with people telling you what is wrong with your life; those people you shouldn’t, but can and do ignore. It starts with you receiving and accepting what they say. No one is better at convincing yourself to change than you.

When you change, you sacrifice a little of your pride. You expose yourself to failure, and at some point you will fail. The wound will sting, and you will question why you started this journey in the first place. Then you will remember: You could not go on living as you were before.

Faith is key to overcoming failure. The worthiness of the cause dulls the pain. The more powerful the vision, the more of yourself it transcends.

It’s a mistake to call what drives this process pure unselfishness. It is, to put it crudely, quid pro quo. The person you want to be is happier, more active, more generous, more selfless than the person you were. You are joyful in the company of others. Petty slights slide more easily off your back into the gutter where they belong. You are a better person. In retrospect your sacrifice was no sacrifice at all.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Odds and ends 11/27/2012

Keith Koffler of White House Dossier doesn’t want to hear any more Republicans denounce Mitt Romney for accurately citing the real reason he lost the election: Obama expanded the welfare state.

Only on Mars is what Romney said untrue. Instead of governing, Obama in fact spent the last year parceling out nicely wrapped little gifts to various constituencies.

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A gift to gays: Obama’s position on same-sex marriage finally, in an election year, finished “evolving” to the point where he could accept it. Apparently the timing of Obama’s conversations with God on this issue couldn’t have worked out better.

A gift to Hispanics: In a probable violation of the Constitution, Obama stopped enforcing the law of the land, decreeing he would no longer deport illegal immigrants under 30 who came to the United States as children. In doing so, he basically implemented a portion of the Dream Act – creating by fiat legislation Congress refused to pass.

A gift to young voters: Obama bashed Congress into keeping student loan rates at 3.4 percent.

A gift to women: He resisted all efforts to change the Obamacare mandate that the ladies get free contraception.


Trevor Thomas writes a sobering article in the American Thinker on how America must suffer its mistakes.

I’m convinced that millions of Americans voted for Obama, et al, for no other reason than for their support of legalized killing of children in the womb, and for their support of perverted (same-sex) marriage. Too many Americans want the social and legal approval of sex without consequences. [link mine]

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What liberals forget, or choose to ignore, is that even if such social and legal protections are achieved, this does not remove the tough natural consequences of immoral behavior. In other words, winning elections isn’t going to bring back a child killed in the womb or cure the many diseases that stem from illicit sexual activity.

Whoever wins elections does nothing to change the natural consequences of disobeying what is often referred to as Natural Law. There is no getting around it; human beings were meant to behave themselves in a certain way. When we violate the standards set by Natural Law, or when our own laws are in conflict with Natural Law, hard consequences await. The important thing is to learn from our mistakes, and as in the parable of the lost son, to return to what is right.


A quote from Yasser Arafat via Neil Snyder, in an aptly titled piece, “Peaceful Coexistence with Radical Islamists is Impossible” (re: “Herem”):

Peace for us means the destruction of Israel. We are preparing for an all-out war, a war which will last for generations. Since January 1965, when Fatah was born, we have become the most dangerous enemy that Israel has...We shall not rest until the day when we return to our home, and until we destroy Israel.


Glenn Fairman waxes poetic on the deterioration of the civil society at the American Thinker (re: “Mother isn’t there”):

We as moral beings are once again granted a ringside seat to an equally stripped subterranean view of the human condition – an odyssey into the ethical default state of man when reduced to primal powerlessness and carnal frailty. How axiomatic, then, that once the veneer of technology is exposed, our civility closely follows. What began, then, as The Day After soon crystallized into William Golding’s Lord of The Flies.

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Beneath our parchment-thin wallpaper of moral obligation, mankind, whether residing in Calcutta or the Hamptons, is a seething cauldron of self. Any major urban center in America, faced with an overwhelmingly catastrophic earthquake, a flood, or even the detonation of a dirty bomb, will bring out self-interest, fear, and despair in the best of us – and, for the worst of us, transform our ethical countenances into those of cruel and clever beasts. Moreover, an apocalyptic war of “all against all” does not necessarily need to occur in order to bring this reptile out of its psychic lair, as any shopper at a department store on Black Friday can readily attest to. Try as I might, I cannot deny that there is a savage living under my skin.

In an age where government does everything it should not and fails in doing what it ought, we must keep in mind that the glib courtesies of civil society are only a mask for a measured depravity entrenched deep within us all – and we should develop at least a modicum of self-sufficiency should our time come.


Thomas Sowell eulogizes Hostess:

The work rules imposed in union contracts required the company that makes Twinkies, which also makes Wonder Bread, to deliver these two products to stores in separate trucks. Moreover, truck drivers were not allowed to load either of these products into their trucks. And the people who did load Twinkies into trucks were not allowed to load Wonder Bread, and vice versa.

All of this was obviously intended to create more jobs for the unions’ members. But the needless additional costs that these make-work rules created ended up driving the company into bankruptcy, which can cost 18,500 jobs. The union is killing the goose that laid the golden egg.


At First Things, Amy L. Wax reviews Christine Overall’s Why Have Children? The Ethical Debate:

Along came modernity, giving men—and especially women—an ever-expanding set of choices. Contraception, artificial insemination, prenatal diagnosis, and the legalization of abortion meant that people could routinely determine when to have children, which children to have, and whether to have them at all. There are limits, of course, and science has yet to master nature. Men still need women’s bodies, and women still need men’s sperm, but much that was once left to merciless chance is now within our control.

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She gives long and careful consideration to disagreements between biological parents over whether to continue a pregnancy and allow a child to be born. Taking a distinctly feminist tack, and consistent with current law that views abortion as a right that is individual, fundamental, and virtually absolute, she insists the mother’s prerogative always trumps the father’s. The father can never prevent the mother from obtaining an abortion or insist that she have one.

She recognizes that this asymmetry can curtail a man’s capacity to become a parent or refuse that option, and so it potentially limits his reproductive “rights,” but she justifies this incursion by pointing to men’s need to enlist a women’s body and thus her consent and cooperation. This natural necessity, she believes, more than justifies limiting a man’s right to become a parent or not.

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She seems unaware that channeling people’s behavior through imperfect and sometimes arbitrary conventions that assign intelligible and reciprocal responsibilities, burdens, and benefits might best minimize the evils she seeks to avoid. The most important convention is, of course, marriage. It is indeed an astonishing shortcoming of this book that the word “marriage” is almost entirely absent—it does not even appear in the index.

Traditionally, marriage carried implicit premises and promises. “Only if you marry me and stand by me can you count on me to bear and help raise your children.” Charles Murray once suggested that marriage should form the sole channel through which men’s rights and responsibilities toward women and children are recognized. Women and their offspring could not call upon unmarried fathers to support them, and unmarried men would have no power over or access to their children without the mother’s consent. This draconian suggestion certainly comes at some cost to innocents, but its logic is a bracing reminder that an individualistic and rights-based approach too often gives short shrift to the social systems that promote virtuous behavior.


J. Robert Smith summarizes the modern Left in the American Thinker:

The modern left has shed faith in God. God – who is foundational to our rights and being as a nation. The left seeks, in fact, to infringe on the rights of churches and their agencies regarding the provision of contraceptive and abortion services. That’s a first step in subordinating religion to the state. It has sought to drive and largely succeeded in driving out faith from the public square. It pushes to impose a smothering political correctness – a tyranny on expression and action. It acts to hobble and punish enterprising and productive citizens and nurture government dependence.


A sobering article on debt from Bill Bonner at The Daily Reckoning:

Debt has become a major burden in the economies of the US, Europe and Japan. It blocks them from saving, spending, investing and creating new wealth. Why? Because the resources that might have been put to work building the future have already been claimed by the past. Debt was contracted. Now, it must be paid. It is as if Pharaoh had already borrowed the needed grain…as if the grain needed to plant for next year had already been eaten. Once consumed, it cannot be borrowed. It is gone. When you owe money on your credit card, it is often for things that no longer even exist. Hamburgers eaten a month ago. Clothes that went out of style last summer. Ski vacations in last winter’s snow. With this burden of the past on your shoulders, you find it harder to move into the future. Your footsteps drag; your life shrinks. You are forced to use your time tomorrow to make up the time you borrowed yesterday.

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Readers may consider the magnitude of the current problem by realizing that, according to the US Federal Reserve, total debt in the US is now about 353% of GDP. At 5% interest, forgetting taxes, the debtor must work nearly 1 day per week just to pay for past consumption.


Dan Amoss, also at The Daily Reckoning, writes:

A critical mass of voters demand government services, including health care — health care that remains waiting for bureaucrats to define. Here is a guess, based on government intrusion into markets: The health care system will become as popular as your local Department of Motor Vehicles within five years. Tuesday’s exit polls revealed that the popular American characteristic of self-reliance is not so popular anymore. Many voters see a European-style welfare state not as a bankrupting failure, but as a model for the U.S. They’re trading their freedom for the illusion of economic security.

Why is government-provided economic security an illusion? Simple: There is no way to pay for these benefits without raising tax rates to a degree that would destroy both the economy and the financial markets or annihilate the value of the dollar. Confiscating the income and assets of the “rich” (ignoring the fact that this would put countless people out of work) would make an unnoticeable dent in the budget deficit. This is a fact, not an opinion. Unfortunately, rather than start a factual conversation about the deficit, politicians choose to inflame the toxic emotion of envy.


Glenn Harlan Reynolds at USA Today suggests federalism to cure secession fever:

Let the central government do the things that only central governments can do – national defense, regulation of trade to keep the provinces from engaging in economic warfare with one another, protection of basic civil rights – and then let the provinces go their own way in most other issues. Don’t like the way things are run where you are? Move to a province that’s more to your taste. Meanwhile, approaches that work in individual provinces can, after some experimentation, be adopted by the central government, thus lowering the risk of adopting untested policies at the national level. You get the benefits of secession without seceding.

Sound good? It should. It’s called federalism, and it’s the approach chosen by the United States when it adopted the Constitution in 1789. As James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 45, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”

In other words, states’ rights. No EPA, no Department of Education, no Obamacare. No top-down, government-directed society. Isn’t that what conservatives have been arguing for, and what the Democratic Party, the party of big government, stands against?


William Doino, Jr. writes in “The Temptation of Secular Conservatism” at First Things:

In his famous book, God and Man at Yale (1951), William F. Buckley lamented the collapse of Christian consciousness among higher academics, and hoped conservatives could reverse the trend. Russell Kirk followed with his classic, The Conservative Mind (1953), arguing that conservatism was nothing if it was not supportive of a transcendent Judeo-Christian order. And Clinton Rossiter’s neglected study Conservatism in America (1955), declared that “no conservative can afford to be casual about religion. Those political or cultural conservatives who are indifferent are to that extent—and to a goodly extent it is—imperfect conservatives.” In recent times, many of these notions have been challenged. While many conservatives still embrace faith, and defend the Judeo-Christian heritage, the idea that modern conservatism is synonymous with faith and tradition has lost traction. A whole new generation of self-styled conservatives want little or nothing to do with either.

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Intimidated by loose (and often ludicrous) charges of “theocracy,” many committed religious believers have hesitated to cite the Bible in support of anything political, even though our Founding Fathers did. A few misleading accusations against the Bible—on slavery or women’s rights, for example—are enough to cause modern conservatives to abandon Biblical arguments altogether. They have adopted a secularist tongue, albeit one that stresses conservative values and the Natural Law (as close to Biblical morality as they are willing to get.)

The debate over how to attract young voters is symptomatic of the challenges faced by American conservatives. Because the young are more liberal on social issues—at least at this point in their lives—traditionalists are being counseled by secularists to either remain silent about abortion and same-sex marriage, or even change their beliefs. But that would be tantamount to repudiating authentic conservatism itself. And since when did conservatives, who believe they have an “adult” understanding of human nature and culture, start deciding they should be deferring to the young for moral instruction? Wasn’t that destructive concept a distinguishing feature of the left during the 1960s? Shouldn’t responsible adults be instructing the young, and not the other way around? And if the young are allowed to drive our moral decisions, where does that leave the commandment, “Honor thy father and thy mother”?

Doino, Jr.’s argument unfortunately runs off the rails when he describes the CIA’s responsible use of waterboarding detainees known to be withholding key information on terrorist networks and impending terrorist attacks as a “direct assault on the dignity of the individual.” Oh well.

Even some “adult” conservatives have proven poor role models for the young. It’s not just a relaxed attitude to adultery, divorce, and pornography; it’s a swerve into political immorality as well. After 9/11, it was perfectly reasonable and just to respond to the terrorists with force (and still is), restrained and guided by just war principles. But then, something happened along the way, and certain conservatives—not all, but far too many—snapped, and came out in defense of torture as a means of resisting terrorism. To this day, many still defend “enhanced interrogation,” a euphemism if ever there was one, and a direct assault on the dignity of the individual.


So obvious is the economy in shambles, I find the necessity to even make the argument against big government condescending. This shit sells itself, is my attitude. Apparently, it’s not so obvious to a great many Americans. J.T. Young makes the argument at the American Spectator:

The federal government spent $3.5 trillion in fiscal year 2012. As CBO observes: “Federal spending has totaled between $3.5 trillion and $3.6 trillion in each of the past four years…” Prior to these four years, government spending had never broken $3 trillion.

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Little surprise then that Washington racked up mind-boggling deficits over these last four years. Before these last four years, Washington’s annual deficit had peaked at $459 billion. Last year’s deficit? $1.1 trillion – well more than twice the record high before these last four years’ – and the lowest of the four.

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For all this federal spending, deficits, and debt, what has America gotten in return? The worst economic recovery of any post-Depression period. In 2009, the economy shrank 3.1 percent. In 2010, it grew 2.4 percent; in 2011, 1.8 percent; and in 2012, it is projected to rise 2.1 percent.

Barely keeping pace with increases in the population.


Conn Carroll of the Washington Examiner performs an autopsy on California:

Don’t think for a second that California’s chronic deficits are caused by low taxes. Even before last Tuesday’s tax hikes, California had the most progressive income tax system in the nation, with seven brackets, and the second-highest top marginal rate. Now it has the nation’s highest top marginal rate and the nation’s highest sales tax. And the budget still isn’t balanced.

The real cause for California’s fiscal crisis is simple: They spend too much money. Between 1996 and 2012, the state’s population grew by just 15 percent, but spending more than doubled, from $45.4 billion to $92.5 billion (in 2005 constant dollars).

What are Californians getting for all this government spending? According to a new census report released Friday, almost one-quarter, 23.5 percent, of all Californians are in poverty. One-third of all the nation’s welfare recipients live in the state, despite the fact that California has only one-eighth of the country’s population. That’s four times as many as the next-highest welfare population, which is New York. Meanwhile, California eighth-graders finished ahead of only Mississippi and District of Columbia students on reading and math test scores in 2011.

Middle-class families that want actual jobs, not welfare, are fleeing California in droves. According to IRS data compiled by the Manhattan Institute, since 2000, almost 2 million Americans have left California for other states. Their most popular destination: Texas.

Go South, young man.

It isn’t a tough move to make. Thanks to low taxes and simple regulations, Chief Executive magazine ranked Texas as the best state to do business in for 2012. Guess who ranked dead last? That’s right, California. And not only does Texas (6.8 percent) have a far lower unemployment rate than California (10.2 percent), but, according to the Census Bureau, income inequality is worse in California than it is in Texas.

Wealth redistribution via job creation. Who’d’ve thunk it? Texas, Marxist utopia!


Andrew Ferguson writes an interesting article in the Weekly Standard on libertarian economist William Niskanen and the “starve the beast” myth:

[Jonathan Rauch:] “Voters will not shrink Big Government until they feel the pinch of its true cost.”

For that reason, the great libertarian pot-stirrer [Niskanen] said that spending would never decrease—that government would never get smaller—until federal revenues increased from 15.8 percent of GDP, where they are today, to higher than 19 percent of GDP: an amount totaling in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

This part of Niskanen’s argument follows economic logic too—raise the price of something and people will want less of it—but it’s still conjectural. He had no way to measure whether demand for federal benefits was rising or falling among voters at any point in time.

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Yet not all voters are taxpayers, at least not to the same degree. A progressive tax code like ours is meant to redistribute wealth, so that people with less of it get more of it, in the form of government benefits. Under such a system, an increase in taxes— say, on the upper 2 percent of tax- payers—won’t reduce demand for government services, because the demand isn’t coming from the people who will “feel the pinch.”

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The only system that would sustain Niskanen’s logic—raise taxes to reduce demand for government benefits—is one in which everyone pays the same percentage of their income in taxes. When taxes were increased to pay for government, everyone would feel the pinch. Such a system is called the flat tax. Good luck with that.


Margaret Wente writes a perfect article on the male crisis in The Globe and Mail:

Boys’ existential issues are different from girls’. For a boy, the two most important life questions are: Will I find work that’s significant? And will I be worthy of my parents? When boys themselves are asked what they need, they say: I need purpose. I need to make a difference. I need to know I measure up. I need challenge. Above all, I need a meaningful vocation.

No wonder so many boys are so miserable. The modern world of extended years in school and delayed adulthood cuts them off from what they need most. As Adam Cox, a clinical psychologist who interviewed hundreds of boys across the English-speaking world, writes: “The primary missing ingredient in [their] lives – the opportunity that separates them from a sense of personal accomplishment, maturity, and resilience – is purposeful work.”

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In the modern world, boys are often treated as a problem. The dominant narrative around difficult boys – at least in the public school system – is that they’re unteachable, unreachable, disruptive and threatening. Many commentators – men as well as women – blame male culture itself for the problems with boys. In their view, what we need to do is destroy the death star of masculinity and all the evil that goes with it. What we need to do is put boys in touch with their emotions and teach them to behave more like girls.

This argument might make some sense – if you’re someone who believes that masculinity is nothing but a social construct. But people who care about real boys know that’s not true. They know you have to celebrate boys’ boyness – and work with it.

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If boys are failing schools and schools are failing boys, it’s really not too hard to see some of the reasons why. They really are fish out of water. Before the Industrial Revolution, boys spent their time with fathers and uncles, often engaged in strenuous physical activity. Now they spend their time in the world of women, sitting behind desks. If schools threw out the desks, they’d probably be a lot happier.


Mark Steyn writes a piece on immigration in National Review that is darker than usual:

It may be that Charles Krauthammer is correct that Hispanics are natural Republicans merely pining for amnesty, a Hallmark Cinco de Mayo card, and a mariachi band at the inaugural ball. Or it may be that, in defiance of Dr. Krauthammer, Grover Norquist, and Little Mary Sunshine, demographics is destiny and, absent assimilationist incentives this country no longer imposes, a Latin American population will wind up living in a Latin American society.

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Republicans think they’re importing hardworking immigrants who want a shot at the American Dream; the Democrats think they’re importing clients for Big Government. The Left is right: Just under 60 percent of immigrants receive some form of welfare. I see the recent Republican proposals for some form of amnesty contain all sorts of supposed safeguards against gaming the system, including a $525 application fee for each stage of the legalization process. On my own recent visit to a U.S. Immigration office, I was interested to be told that, as a matter of policy, the Obama administration is now rubberstamping all “fee waiver” requests for “exceptional hardship” filed by members of approved identity groups. And so it will go for all those GOP safeguards. While Canada and Australia compete for high-skilled immigrants, America fast-tracks an unskilled welfare class of such economic benefit to their new homeland they can’t even afford a couple of hundred bucks for the necessary paperwork.


Aside from essentially endorsing multiculturalism in this article in the Jewish Journal, Dennis Prager makes a good argument against pro-choice Jews who refuse to speak on the immorality of abortion:

I presume that just about every Jew — from ultra-Orthodox and politically conservative to completely irreligious and politically left — would oppose criminalizing adultery. In other words, all Jews are pro-choice on adultery. Yet, I would also presume that nearly all Jews, and certainly all rabbis, if asked whether they are pro-choice on adultery, would respond that while they are, they want to make it abundantly clear that they regard adultery as immoral.

Why, then, can’t pro-choice Jews — especially rabbis — say the same thing about abortion? Why can’t they say that while they are pro-choice, as Jews and as moral humans they regard most abortions immoral?

Is it moral to abort a female fetus solely because the mother wants a boy?

Is it moral for an affluent married woman to have an abortion solely because she just doesn’t want a child at this time, or just doesn’t want any more children?

Is it moral to have an abortion when the fetus can live outside the womb — and there is no medical necessity to have one?

Is it moral to have an abortion for no medical reason even though there are myriad married couples who ache to adopt a newborn?


Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, infamous for ginning up the Rick Perry “niggerhead” controversy, says he’s worried about Republicans. Poor Republicans, they just don’t know what’s good for them.

He ascribes Republican opposition to Susan Rice to racism. He doesn’t mention the fact that she blamed the murder of an American ambassador on Muslim hypersensitivity to a YouTube video, belied by the Administration’s censoring references to a bona fide terrorist attack in the CIA’s briefing materials. According to USA Today:

Former CIA director David Petraeus told lawmakers in a closed-door session earlier this month that that the CIA’s draft talking points written in response to the assault had referred to it as a terrorist attack. But he also said the reference was removed from the final version – although he wasn’t sure which federal agency deleted it.

However, Rice appeared on several Sunday talk shows on Sept. 16 and insisted the attack was prompted by the video. She recently said she was only relating the intelligence information she was handed by the White House, and Obama defended Rice, saying it was not her fault.

It doesn’t end there. The Washington Post editorial board caught Capehart’s race card infection:

Could it be, as members of the Congressional Black Caucus are charging, that the signatories of the letter are targeting Ms. Rice because she is an African American woman? The signatories deny that, and we can’t know their hearts. What we do know is that more than 80 of the signatories are white males, and nearly half are from states of the former Confederacy.

As James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal notes:

The Post acknowledges that “we can’t know their hearts.” But it finds a (literally) prima facie reason to suspect them of invidious motives: Almost all of them are persons of pallor. The Post is casting aspersions on Duncan and his colleagues based explicitly on the color of their skin. And it is accusing them of racism!

M. Catharine Evans takes a more cynical view:

When members of this administration watched for 7 hours as our people were brutally murdered and did nothing to help, even denying repeated requests for help, Clinton or Panetta wouldn’t do. Too white. The quickest way to stop all the tough questions was to make Rice a victim of racism.

Capehart goes on:

The GOP is about to face another test with Hispanic voters on the question of statehood for Puerto Rico. In a commentary Sunday, D.C. political analyst Mark Plotkin called the Caribbean island’s embrace of statehood “a good deal for the District and Puerto Rico” because it could provide the District its own, long-awaited path to statehood. Included in Plotkin’s piece is a killer quote from Ricardo Aponte, executive director of the Republican Party of Puerto Rico.

“If the Republican Party rejects statehood for Puerto Rico because it has a Hispanic population, that explains and perpetuates the 71 percent [of Hispanics] who voted for Obama,” Aponte said. “This is an opportunity for the Republican Party to redeem itself.”

In summary: For Republicans to gain traction with Hispanics, they have to give Democrats two guaranteed Senate seats from the District of Columbia, and pray Puerto Rican voters don’t follow the majority of their brown-skinned brethren into government dependency and largesse. Such foolish pandering has never worked, will never work. It will only accelerate America’s demise. Or, in Capehart’s view, its transformation.


Speaking of the Hispanic vote, here’s a little post-election demographic wisdom from Pat Buchanan:

Hispanics constituted 10 percent of the electorate, up from 7.5 in 2008. But Mitt got only 27 percent of that, the lowest of any Republican presidential candidate.

This, we are told, was because of Mitt’s comment about “self-deportation” and GOP support for a border fence and sanctions on employers who hire illegals. If only we embrace the Dream Act and provide a path to citizenship – amnesty – the GOP’s problem is solved.

The Republican capacity for self-delusion is truly awesome.

Set aside the idealized Hispanic of the Republican consultants’ vision. What does the real Hispanic community look like today?

Let us consider only native-born Hispanics, U.S. citizens.

According to Steve Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies, which analyzed Census Bureau statistics from 2012:

-- More than one in five Hispanic citizens lives in poverty.

-- One in four Hispanic-American men 25 to 55 is out of work.

-- More than half of all Hispanic women 25-55 are unmarried.

-- Half of all Hispanic households with children are headed by an unmarried woman, and 55 percent depend on welfare programs.

These numbers do not improve with time, as they did with the Irish, Italian, Polish, Jewish and German immigrants who poured into the United States between 1890 and 1920. Third-generation Hispanics do worse than second-generation Hispanics in all the above categories.

This is a huge community being sucked into the morass of a mammoth welfare state.


Speaking of the welfare state, Christopher Chantrill writes of its inevitable, violent end:

The basic divide in this country is between two ideas of the individual. There is the “responsible self,” a notion that Robert Bellah attributes to the Axial Age when all modern religions got their start. And there is the client self, the powerless peasant that attaches himself to a powerful patron.

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The end game of the patronage/client business, when there is no more money, provokes people to seek an answer in the street.


Willful ignorance of science, or just plain Christian common sense? Marco Rubio and Barack Obama, respectively:

I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.

I believe that God created the universe and that the six days in the Bible may not be six days as we understand it … it may not be 24-hour days, and that’s what I believe. I know there’s always a debate between those who read the Bible literally and those who don’t, and I think it’s a legitimate debate within the Christian community of which I’m a part. My belief is that the story that the Bible tells about God creating this magnificent Earth on which we live—that is essentially true, that is fundamentally true. Now, whether it happened exactly as we might understand it.


Finally, a quote from William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection: “When people criticizing Republicans need to start their argument by announcing that they are “reality-based,” you know an epistemic closure argument cannot be far behind.”

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pillar of Cloud

In the eyes of the anointed, Israel’s original sin was giving the boot to stateless Muslims who engaged in total war against Jewish refugees arriving from Europe in the ’30s and ’40s. If the Palestinians are victims of anything, it’s the irrational Jew-hatred of their forefathers, which they continue to perpetuate via rockets launched at Israeli civilians and propaganda aimed at their own children. Their exile in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is self-imposed. The Arab Muslims who live the best are the ones who chose coexistence with the Jews.

Only a “pragmatist” (see moral relativist) or Palestinian sympathizer (see The Audacity of Hope) would want to put daylight between the United States and Israel. On the world stage, standing up for righteousness and truth is a losing position, especially when said truth is an actionable offense to a billion Muslims constantly on the verge of throwing a temper tantrum, and who wittingly give cover to guerilla terrorists. In such a world, the only possible peace is a fake peace, bought by enforcing the illusion of Islamic supremacy through silence on Islam’s backwardness and corruption. The most recent example of this is the State Department’s conspicuous lack of outrage at Turkey calling Israel a terrorist state.

Invisibility of alternative religions is an integral part of sharia law. By driving them underground, Islam becomes the dominant cultural force by default. In honoring this fake peace, our leaders find common cause with the enemy. Hence an obscure Florida pastor threatening to burn Qurans is treated as a bona fide national security crisis, warranting condemnation from the President, the Secretary of Defense, and General David Petraeus. As leader of the coalition in Afghanistan at the time, Petraeus needed the Afghans’ cooperation to complete the mission of excising the Taliban from that benighted country. But if he could not trust his Afghan partners not to react irrationally and violently to a silly Christian pastor on the other side of the world, how could he possibly trust them with the security of a country?

“The right thing sets you up to be incredibly lonely, sometimes,” said Alex Cormier in Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes. That book was about predatory bullying and how the silence of a community can enable a minority of evildoers. It serves as a parable of human nature. Our cowardly government’s calls for “de-escalation” and “ceasefire” of Israel’s offensive against Hamas delay a fight that needs to happen and betray a dismaying degree of indifference on who wins. In the battle of right against wrong, good versus evil, there’s a side worth fighting for.

Read here for more information on the Biblical allusion in Operation Pillar of Cloud.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Consumed with banality

I harbor a deep resentment of the trivia and superficiality that govern public discourse. Emotions seem to outweigh truth in every venue that matters to people. About a year ago, I was downright depressed about this situation, and I wrote this poem:

Day to day, consumed with banality,
Heedless, decadent, stupid,
We race through the crumbling architecture,
Held together by the threads of past principles,
While the inevitable looms ahead,
A return to nature, lawless and wild,
Suspended by time and luck,
Descending, descending.

The seeming insurmountable death grip political correctness has on the culture can lead one to give up and focus his energies in other areas better suited to personal satisfaction. But I find pleasure in the argument, even when it fails.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Retrograde dependency

Reading Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is an unsettling experience, because the further you read, the less clear it is what makes Nurse Ratched (aka “Big Nurse”) the villain. When the hero, McMurphy, shows up at the psych ward, the setup of the battle of good vs. evil couldn't be more obvious: He's big, brash, and rebellious; Nurse Ratched is cold, controlling, and manipulative. Ostensibly she is in charge of the psych ward, but her influence runs deeper than setting the patients' schedule and telling them what they can and can't do. Somehow, she has the entire psych ward, including the hospital staff, cowed. McMurphy aims to fix that.

He is mostly successful at implementing his agenda. He wins the patients' rights to play cards, watch the World Series, and leave the hospital to go fishing. None of these victories seem to carry weight, however. Nurse Ratched maintains control, and she wears McMurphy down with kindness and patience. Over time, he begins to question his own motives. He, along with the reader, loses clarity of purpose.

Who is Nurse Ratched, and what is the source of her power? Kesey gives us several clues. She's about 50 years old, never married, and, by the inmates' description of her, quite beautiful in her prime. But she is completely asexual. By my read, she possesses but one feminine quality, which she executes with nun-like precision: motherhood.

Ask any mother what the hardest thing about raising children is, and she will tell you it’s letting them leave when they’ve grown up. It is with a heavy heart she watches them leave the nest, should that be their choice. But if they choose to stay for whatever reason, she will understand. She will not push them away. The “failure to launch” phenomenon has two guilty parties: the young adults, typically men, who refuse to grow up; and the mothers who discourage them from leaving.

Dependency is natural for children, but in adults it is retrograde. Adult life isn’t lived in the womb of one’s childhood home. It’s lived outside it, initiated by the child as he matures. He goes to mom for comfort, but to dad for advice.

Nurse Ratched represents the tug of perpetual childhood on the most vulnerable parts of our selves. She is more an unconditional caregiver than a vengeful authoritarian. Unfortunately the effect on the men in the psych ward is the same. They are free to leave any time they wish, but they choose not to because they’ve grown accustomed to the security blanket she provides.

The purpose of a psych ward is to rehabilitate patients so they can reenter society. By denying her patients the freedom to do that, Nurse Ratched robs them of any chance at real rehabilitation. McMurphy, who enters the psych ward a man, becomes like a child. When he tries to reclaim his independence, Nurse Ratched has him lobotomized, rendering him literally infantile, the ultimate form of dependent.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Odds and ends 11/18/2012

If there was an upside to the contraception mandate issued by HHS Secretary/nominal Catholic Kathleen Sebelius, it was that it brought clarity to the secular humanist worldview. At the time, analyses of that worldview were stark and eloquent. Examples are legion, but here are two:

Obama’s Milton Wolf defines freedom at the Washington Times:

Liberals say that man is not free until he is free from want and so the government must guarantee his comforts - everything from housing to health care, cell phones to sustenance. But this notion inherently contradicts itself. For the government to provide for all wants, or even just the important ones – and our leaders know the difference – they must plunder the property of other would-be free Americans. Worse yet, by attaching strings to every giveaway, they plunder the liberty of those on whom they lavish their largess. This notion of freedom destroys freedom. So a better definition must exist.

Freedom is man’s power to exercise his own faculties as he chooses as long as he prohibits no other man from doing the same. Law exists to ensure that no man takes another man’s life – other than in self-defense – or deprives him of his liberty or property.

Peter Wehner writes about “Barack Obama’s Theory of Government” over at Commentary:

[Obama] would trade off greater prosperity in all classes and income brackets in order to narrow the gap in income inequality, which he considers to be a moral offense.

...

Obama wants government to weaken, and eventually replace, civil society, create greater dependency, and expand the state’s reach into every nook and cranny of life, including into the internal life of the church.


Mitt Romney understands why he lost the presidential election. Obama bought the electorate’s support by expanding the base of people on the government dole.


James V. Schall writes in the Catholic Thing on our postmodern concept of rights:

If freedom is the pursuit of whatever we want, which was, for Aristotle, the formal element of a “democratic” form of government, we soon discover that we want everything.

We insist that we have a “right” to everything. By looking at what is owed to us, we become oblivious to what we need to do to provide for ourselves. We understand the common good as a distributive justice in which the state provides everything for us.


George Neumayr looks at disgraced America and the modern Republican Party:

“It is dying but it laughs,” said the Romans of their collapsing empire. The chortling of the Bill Mahers last week deserves a similar line. The smugness seems to grow in proportion to America’s problems and pathologies. Their assertions about Obama’s socialism stimulating the economy or gay marriage strengthening the family are on the same level as their claim that pot is good for public health.

Desperate to win in a declining culture, prominent Republicans have already called for a more “modern” party. It only took a couple of days for them to embrace the wisdom of the Democrats and call for a relaxed abortion stance among other “evolutions.” But why stop there? If the purpose of politics is not to win on sound principles (so that problems can actually be solved when you do win) but to win through pandering, the Republicans should discard their whole platform. After all, fiscal conservatism didn’t fare very well either. America could then move forward even faster toward destruction, with two liberal parties of varying degrees, jostling with each other in a competition to see who can deliver bread and circuses to the mob to greater cheers.


Paula Broadwell is cute, but she’s no ditz. She has a mature view of human sexuality:

Writing in the Boston Globe in 2009 [Broadwell] tackled the issue of fraternisation between the sexes on the front line, ‘Human sexuality will always present a challenge to organisational discipline. In isolated outposts [it] could create a situation where issues of sex impede an organization’s survival skills’.

Rather presciently she concluded, ‘Banning sex is futile and impossible; the best approach is to set rules regarding fraternization, maintain awareness of relationships within the command, and strictly and fairly discipline transgressors.’


Peter Hannaford draws an analogy between California Governor Jerry Brown and Dr. Kevorkian:

The patient had a terminal illness. The medical term for it is “gross fiscal irresponsibility.” If not treated, it leads to total collapse of all systems. Having ignored the symptoms, California is now in the late stages.

The pending collapse of a once great state is so painfully obvious, it makes the election of Democratic supermajorities in both state houses all the more infuriating.


Reuters analyzes the bankruptcy of San Bernadino, California:

San Bernardino succumbed to a vicious circle of self-interests among city workers, local politicians and state pension overseers.

Little by little, over many years, the salaries and retirement benefits of San Bernardino’s city workers — and especially its police and firemen — grew richer and richer, even as the city lost its major employers and gradually got poorer and poorer.

Unions poured money into city council elections, and the city council poured money into union pay and pensions. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (Calpers), which manages pension plans for San Bernardino and many other cities, encouraged ever-sweeter benefits. Investment bankers sold clever bond deals to pay for them. Meanwhile, state law made it impossible to raise local property taxes and difficult to boost any other kind.


The Orange County Register editorializes on the futility of welfare spending:

The United States spent $61,000-plus last year supporting welfare programs for each household in poverty, according to U.S. Census, Office of Management and Budget and Congressional Research Services data.

If the money had been handed directly to those families, they would have arrived in the middle class, their poverty eradicated, at least until they spent the money. Instead, hundreds of billions of dollars were passed through costly, inefficient and, apparently, ineffective government channels.


Boy genius Michael W. Hannon writes in Public Discourse on the fallacy most same-sex marriage backers make:

Despite their very laudable subjective motives, [Ted] Olson and [David] Boies have completely overlooked the central question in this debate: What is marriage? Since they haven’t asked or tried to answer this pivotal question about the reality of marriage, but have instead based their arguments purely on political terms of equality and fairness, they have mischaracterized the entire dispute as a battle of discriminators against the discriminated. Misunderstanding the debate’s true point of contention has led them unintentionally but fatally to beg the question in all of their arguments.

...

Olson, Boies, and their allies have systematically confused a debate about metaphysical possibility with one about political permissibility. They are arguing that our government ought to let same-sex couples marry, and they are convinced that their opponents are arguing over the same point, just on the other side of the issue.

But that is a gross mischaracterization of the disagreement. For our position is not that the government should refuse to let such couples marry, but rather that the government is utterly impotent with regard to this question. Our response to same-sex couples desirous of marriage is not “You may not,” but rather, “You cannot.” We do not seek to bar anyone from marriage; we just believe marriage is a union that is necessarily and by its very nature heterosexual. Maybe we are right, or maybe Olson and Boies are. But regardless, the question to be settled in this debate is not whether to bring a latent potency into actuality, but whether there is in fact any potency present in the first place.

...

Granted, in the most generic sense, distinguishing between opposite-sex and same-sex couples is indeed a discriminating act. But in that broadest sense, all distinctions are discriminating, and no party to this debate is so foolish as to believe that we should abolish all distinction-making.


Sticking with the subject of marriage, Peter Lawler writes at Big Think:

The Christian view of marriage and the family doesn’t negate the merely natural and political purposes of marriage. Marriage is for propagation of the species—a natural function that we share with the other animals. Marriage is also for perpetuating political order; it has the civil function of producing citizens. But Christians put this natural good and this political good in their proper places by denying that they have a theological foundation. Serving the species and serving one’s country are not the highest purposes of marriage, and so marriage, and children, too, can’t be understood to exist for the species or the country. We aren’t in fact made in the image of the God as merely natural—in the sense of biological—or political beings.

True theology, as St. Augustine says, is personal—and so not civil or natural. And so the high or sacramental purpose of marriage is for the uniting of persons for the procreation of persons—beings who can know and love each other and God. The institution that corresponds to our personal purposes is the church. That means, of course, the authority of the state is limited by both the family and the church, and the education of children is to be more than for being citizens.


Gene Fant rants at First Things:

New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg has decided that they must outlaw food donations to the poor because the materials cannot be assessed for falling within the guidelines for salt and fat. Apparently he has misread Luke 11:11 in the King James, “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone?” I have read that stones can fill hungry bellies with a false sense of satiety, and I suppose that stones are the ultimate in low-salt / low-fat material, at least as long as they aren’t halite. Unfortunately, stones are not very nutritious. Neither is the gift of nothing, like the Marie Antoinette-ish admonition, “They have no bread? Let them eat arugula with low-fat dressing!”

This, then, is where we are. We now not only say, “You can’t serve the poor because of your religious beliefs,” we even tell the poor, “You can’t be served because of our secular beliefs.” And it’s the radical secular fundamentalists who are the new Taliban, destroying religious artwork and, apparently, turning into soup kitchen Nazis. This makes perfect sense, after all, because we now live in an era where “up” is “down,” “hot” is “cold,” and “right” is “wrong.” Too bad “hunger” can’t become “satiety” through the mere wave of a bureaucratic hand.


Rodney Howsare offers food for thought on the matter of church and state:

The [social contract] is Rousseau’s attempt to retrieve Hobbes (for whom he had significant respect) without the authoritarianism. Rousseau’s “state of nature” is much less nasty than Hobbes’, but equally requires some version of society. Even if the human person is most himself and freest when least encumbered with social, traditional, religious or familial ties, society is a necessary evil which protects as much as possible the freedom of the individual without being much of a threat to it. That society is the social contract, which is designed to express the will of the people.

Like most modern thinkers, Rousseau has an enormous amount of confidence in the ability of the “moral law within” (to quote another Rousseauian philosopher) to point each of us in the right direction. Indeed, the natural law is indistinguishable in his thought from private, individual conscience. And conscience is no longer rooted in something “above” the individual, which therefore needs to be formed by a healthy and traditional community; conscience is a perfectly functioning tool residing already intact in the heart of every individual.

This leads to Rousseau’s understanding of civil religion. If the social contract is the structure of his thought, civil religion provides its soul. This civil religion is intimately connected to conscience, insofar as it contains very few commands and only one restriction: against intolerance.

Because conscience is present in every individual and corresponds so nicely to the contents of civil religion (i.e., Deism), the role of organized religion (read, the Catholic Church) is thought to be not only unnecessary for but also the enemy of Democratic society. Why? Because it divides people’s allegiances between two kingdoms, and provides an institutionally robust alternative to the state.


Peter Ferrara at the American Spectator lays out some economic facts:

Obama says that his tax increases would not affect 97% of all small businesses. But that top 3% of small businesses earn 91% of all small business income, and employ 54% of the total private sector U.S. workforce.

In 2009, the top 1% paid over 22% of all federal taxes...while earning 13% of the income...In addition, in 2009 the top 20% paid nearly 70% of all federal taxes, while earning 50% of the income. The middle 20% of income earners, again the true middle class, paid 9% of federal taxes, which was about two-thirds of their share of income at 15%.

Over the last 45 years, every time the capital gains tax has been raised, capital gains revenues have declined rather than increased.

If envy didn’t override truth in postmodern America, these facts might mean something.


Jeremy Egerer, editor of American Clarity, writes:

We see that business has an advantage over charity, but that it must be kept within certain bounds. We see that in a market economy, the iron-hearted customer guides all commerce, and so the foundational principle of business must be entirely different from that of charity. We see that business is not heartless, but rather the ribcage which holds the heart; that two philosophies, almost like the yin and the yang, converge in a dance of humanity, the paradox upon which civilizations are built.

What, then, shall we do with our lives? Produce within the Law, and when needs have been met, and the masses empowered with goods, and justice brought to the poor and the rich alike, then we rest our checkbooks and ledgers and return home, and give as we are called.


William J. Haun presents the limited-government case against same-sex marriage:

A limited government can remain limited only when citizens take responsibility for the consequences of their choices. The less people take responsibility, Benjamin Franklin observed, the more they need government. The same is true with marriage. Marriage as traditionally understood ensures that a man and a woman channel their attraction for one another into a stable, committed relationship that gives any children they have the best developmental benefit: a mom and a dad.

In the absence of an independent institution that holds men and women accountable for their relationship’s public effect—the having and raising of children—government must make greater expenditures to fight crime, improve the education system, enforce child support requirements, aid abandoned single mothers, and provide general social services.

To be sure, the increasing severance of marriage from procreation—not same-sex marriage—caused these problems. Same-sex marriage, however, represents a further break. Marriage’s purpose as the only institution that unites children with their mother and father disappears if a union for which that purpose is inherently irrelevant is also considered a marriage. The marital union is distinct in this regard.

...

A society where marriage is divorced from its procreative purpose within a stable union is a society that neuters its ability to prevent predatory men from impregnating women and abandoning them and to ensure that men take responsibility for their offspring. And it denies the child an incontrovertible social benefit: a present mother and father.

In such an alternative society—where marriage is divorced from procreation—the government steps in to look after children and relationships. And why not? If same-sex advocates view government validation of relationships as the means to achieve their social legitimacy, why not also look to government to solve the social failings of relationships?


C. John McCloskey, in “The Recent Unpleasantness,” goes full post-apocalyptic in his assessment of an America that reelects Barack Obama:

In fact, the U.S. is no longer a Christian country. Our nation is in a spiraling decline, and the cause is neither politics nor economics but moral breakdown.

For the first time in human history the greatest health problem is obesity—read gluttony. Millions of men and even (believe it or not) women are addicted to pornography, and our birthrate is at its lowest in history. Cohabitation before marriage and multiple divorces are not unusual. Out-of-wedlock births are at an all-time high. And the holocaust of unborn babies by the millions continues.

Our country is morally as well as fiscally broke. Of course, these signs of decline are all interconnected. This is not the time to go into how all this came about, but to my mind the individual states have become too dependent on our central government for matters that should fall in their own purview, clearly and seriously violating and abusing the Catholic principle of subsidiarity.


Lee Habeeb writes in National Review:

The desire to scrub Ole Miss of any possible remnants of racism projects not only a lack of confidence about the future of the university, but a lack of trust in the present. And it represents a false hope of perfecting human nature.


Last, but not least, I just finished reading Coming Apart by Charles Murray, an analysis of America’s social breakdown along class lines. Hallmarks of the social breakdown in America’s lower class since the 1960s include falling rates of marriage, church attendance, and employment. It’s chockfull of wisdom.

Of course sexual mores would be profoundly changed when, for the first time in human history, women had a convenient and reliable way to ensure that they could have sex without getting pregnant, even on the spur of the moment and with no cooperation from the man. (p. 10)

[Francis Grund:] “The American Constitution is remarkable for its simplicity; but it can only suffice a people habitually correct in their actions.” (p.127)

[James Madison:] “To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people is a chimerical idea.” (p. 129)

The importance of honesty in making a limited government work is self-evident—nothing short of a police state will force people to refrain from crime if they are predisposed otherwise. (p. 132)

[Francis Grund:] “I consider the domestic virtue of the Americans as their principal source of all their other qualities. It acts as a promoter of industry, as a stimulus to enterprise, and as the most powerful restrainer on public vice. It reduces life to its simplest elements, and makes happiness less dependent on precarious circumstances.” (p. 137)

[James Madison:] “The belief in a God All Powerful, wise, and good, is so essential to the moral order of the World and to the happiness of man, that arguments before which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources.” (p. 139)

The belief that being a good American involved behaving in certain kinds of ways, and that the nation itself relied upon a certain kind of people in order to succeed, had begun to fade and has not revived. It came to be tacitly assumed that the American system itself would work under any circumstances as long as we got the laws right. (p. 142)

[Bronislaw Malinowski:] “No child should be brought into the world without a man—and one man at that—assuming the role of sociological father, that is, guardian and proector, the male link between the child and the rest of the community.” (p. 160)

George Gilder predicted it even earlier, in Sexual Suicide, through a more inflammatory argument: Unmarried males arriving at adulthood are barbarians who are then civilized by women through marriage. The inflammatory part was that Gilder saw disaster looming as women stopped performing this function, a position derided as the worst kind of parochial sexism. But, put in less vivid language, the argument is neither implausible nor inflammatory: The responsibilities of marriage induce young men to settle down, focus, and get to work. (p. 181)

Prime-age men are much more than three times as likely to be out of the labor force if they are unmarried, and this was true through the entire half century from 1960 to 2010. (p. 182)

Kensington was still inordinately proud of its community, much to the exasperation of the social service establishment. “Kensingtonians are psychologically unable to face up to their social, cultural, and economic deprivation,” said one Philadelphia social services administrator. “Pride prevents them from taking advantage of social services. For them to accept these services might be to admit they’re not all they claim to be.” (p. 212)

Another group consists of men who making a living and women who are not single mothers, but who are disconnected from the matrix of community life. You probably recognize the type: They have friends, but purely for social purposes—friends good for going out and having a good time, not ones who are good for helping out in tough times. They live in the neighborhood, but are not of it. They don’t get involved in anything. (p. 229)

The role of marriage—specifically, marriage with children—is obvious. Some large proportion of the webs of engagement in an ordinary community are spun because of the environment that parents are trying to foster for their children. (p. 245)

One point of view (which I do not share) argues that the hallmark of high social capital—neighbors helping neighbors cope with their problems—is inferior to a system that meets human needs through government programs, because only the government can provide help without the moral judgmentalism associated with charity. (p. 252)

Longitudinal evidence reveals that people don’t get happier as they from a modest income to affluence, (p. 265)

People need self-respect, but self-respect must be earned—it cannot be self-respect if it’s not earned—and the only way to earn anything is to achieve it in the face of the possibility of failing. (p. 281)

The purpose of life is to while away the time between birth and death and pleasantly as possible, and the purpose of government is to make it as easy as possible to while away the time as pleasantly as possible—the Europe syndrome. (p. 284)

The hollow elite is as dysfunctional in its way as the new lower class is in its way. Personally and as families, its members are successful. But they have abdicated their responsibility to set and promulgate standards. (p. 294)

The founders believed that certain aspects of human nature were immutable and that they tightly constrain what is politically and culturally possible. Madison’s observation in The Federalist, no. 51, “that “if men were angels, no government would be necessary,” is famous, but the preceding two sentences get more directly to the point: “It may be a reflection on human nature that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” (p. 297) Age-old human wisdom has understood that a life well lives required engagement with those around us. (p. 306)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A future to outlast our lives

As Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler writes, “barren worldviews lead to barren wombs.” Nothing screams hopelessness in the future than disinterest in having and raising children. We invest in our progeny the values to carry forward the moral project that is our unique culture. Having fewer children betrays indifference to this project, a crisis of cultural confidence. Why waste the incredible effort of childrearing on perpetuating an unwanted legacy?

In Europe, a clean separation from the past has produced a hopeless, nihilistic future. Far degraded are the social institutions that used to bind the people together. Church attendance is way down. Work is seen as a necessary evil to fill the time between leisure activities (a Marxist attitude). Every year, hundreds of thousands of immigrants, most of them Muslim, discover a profound void where there should be a native culture to assimilate to. Naturally, they fill the void with that which they grew up with in their old countries. Europe, insofar as it still retains a distinct identity, is dying.

Such a people as the Europeans are ripe for the picking, willing to be led in new and likely terrible directions. People prone to stand up to usurpers of freedom and democracy are people whose voluntary bonds to each other are numerous and strong. On that score, by what country was French historian Alexis de Tocqueville so impressed in the 1830s?

Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions, constantly form associations. They have not only commercial and manufacturing companies, in which all take part, but associations of a thousand other kinds—religious, moral, serious, futile, extensive, or restricted, enormous or diminutive. The Americans make associations to give entertainments, to found establishments for education, to build inns, to construct churches, to diffuse books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; and in this manner they found hospitals, prisons, and schools…Wherever, at the head of some new undertaking, you see the government in France, or a man of rank in England, in the United States you will be sure to find an association.

In postmodern Europe, freely entered into, “subjective” associations have come under attack, and, to a great extent, they have been replaced by more “objective” means of directing resources to solve society’s wants. Those means are centralized bureaucracies, which coddle, cajole, and smother freedom, seen as selfish, disorganized, and misdirected. Initially the people may object, but eventually they rest easy knowing they are being taken care of. The nanny state is aptly titled: Feeble, incontinent people who can’t change their own diapers have nannies do it for them.

Of this, de Tocqueville adds: “A despot easily forgives his subjects for not loving him, provided they do not love each other.” And George Will says:

This is what the progressive state does. It tries to break all the institutions of civil society, all the institutions that mediate between the individual and the state. They have to break them to the saddle of the state.

America reproduces at a rate of 1.9 children per woman (not much below the replacement level rate of 2.1 children per woman). Europe reproduces at a rate of 1.3 children per woman, what Mark Steyn calls a “demographic time bomb,” wherein the native-born population shrinks to parity with the immigrant population in a generation.

As far as I’m concerned, the crisis facing the Western world isn’t demographics, it’s culture. Fix the culture, and people will invest their resources in a future that will outlast their lives. They will start having babies again. As Charles Murray writes:

Families with children are the core around which American communities must be organized—must, because families with children have always been, and still are, the engine that makes American communities work.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sexual vitality

We’ve long understood the male libido as a fact of life, but its power over the powerful still fascinates us. Add Generals Petraeus and Allen to the list of men who had it all and screwed it up. You can blame their downfall on their libido, but in fact their libido is what drove them to accomplish great things and serve their country with such distinction.

As George Gilder writes in Men and Marriage, the male sex drive is the most powerful compulsion in his life. His sexual identity is bound up in his accomplishments. He knows, to attract women, he must accomplish something. He “has to perform…has to offer something beyond himself and beyond her reach—if she is to receive him.” The urge to philander is a natural consequence of that. It doesn’t die with marriage, but gets channeled to purposes approved of and sanctioned by society, including especially vocation and fatherhood.

Reading an article about the whole scandal, what I noticed first in the pictures of Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley is their sexual vitality. Married with children or not, they can drive a man to distraction. Due primarily to social exchanges with admiring men did they reach positions in high society. Broadwell’s claim to fame is being Petraeus’ biographer. How could she not admire him for his greatness, and how could he not find her admiration stimulating? Who else but to a beautiful woman would a rock-star general open up to most willingly?

Kelley married a prominent Tampa surgeon, and hosted parties for officers in her home. No doubt her intoxicating femininity served the crucical role of social lubricant, which is usually the case at mixers. In General Allen she sparked an obsession. That may be putting it mildly. Kelley’s attentions validated and affirmed Allen’s deepest motivation for success, giving him a huge testosterone boost. If he was addicted to anything, it was that, not her.

Finally, it’s worth asking whether integration of women into service on the front lines is really the best thing for our troops, when our highest-ranking officers can’t seem to control themselves. The emotional and physical intimacy of the war theater is bound to translate into more frequent sexual incidents in mixed units, putting unit cohesion and troops’ lives at risk. These effects will be compounded now that servicemen and -women can openly admit their attraction to the same sex, an announcement of sexual availability that the stress of war would push some to take advantage of. As history and current events show, without discipline, sexual urges usually find an outlet.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Life worth living

When someone close to me once asked, “What are you afraid of most?” I told her “Pain.” But that wasn’t accurate. I should have said “Suffering” instead. Of all my fears, I fear suffering through life the most.

The things most worth living for—family, faith, and vocation—entail the most risk. That risk is the exposure of the wounded, isolated self to the wider world for criticism and rejection.

Is life a blessing or a curse? Is it to be cherished or endured? When asked in such a way, the answer is self-evident. Yet many of us choose to stagnate, whiling away our time on earth in fleeting pleasures, never venturing far from the comfortable or the routine, skipping opportunities to grow.

Eventually, time catches up to us. We’re locked in a cycle of personal shortcomings, lacking orientation to the future. The frustrations mount upon each other. If only we could get over ourselves, we could begin living a life worth living. As George Gilder writes in Men and Marriage:

It is not merely a desire for companionship or “growth.” It is a deeper alchemy of change, flowing from a primal source. It seeps slowly into the flesh, the memory, the spirit.

From it issues forth the courage to get out of our own way. Gilder continues:

The man who is in touch with his mortality, but not in the grips of it, is also in touch with the sources of his love. He is in contact with the elements—the natural fires and storms so often used as metaphors for his passions. He is a man who can be deeply and effectively changed. He can find his age, his relation to the world, his maturity, his future.

Gilder was writing about men and how they overcome their sexual isolation from society. The Ted Mosby and Barney Stinson characters in How I Met Your Mother are prime examples of pre-middle-aged men living glamorously. Yet we know, and so do they, behind the glossy women they take to bed and the late-night benders, they’re doing little more than waiting for life to really begin.

The lesson doesn’t apply only to men. In Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw and company jump from club to club, orgasm to orgasm, repeating to each other ad nauseum how sorry they feel for their pathetic married friends and how great it is to be an “independent woman.” The end of the series renders the ultimate verdict, however, as they all find true happiness in love and marriage.

The tragedy of a life not lived is relayed in this brutally honest autobiographical article by Claudia Connell in the Daily Mail. The gist of the article can be summed up in this revelation:

Freedom is great when you can exploit it; but when you have so much that you don’t know what to do with it, then it all becomes a little pointless.

Nevertheless, the 46 year-old Connell insists “being single still has some incredible upsides...”

If I had a family, I wouldn’t have been able to spend a month in Australia earlier this year, or a weekend shopping in Milan, and I would probably have felt too guilty ever to spend £3,000 on a rug (as I have just done).

In the greater context, what are these extravagances but the continuation of a selfish pattern inflated by personal wealth? Despite all the material comforts, she still lives alone in an empty house, trapped inside herself. She is suffering through life.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Odds and ends 11/9/2012

Welcome to a special post-election/post-apocalypse-themed edition of “Odds and ends.” Sit back and enjoy the ride.

First, Daren Jonescu’s invaluable pre-election primer:

Other nations have their advantages – Korea’s low tax rates have helped her to grow from third-world to top-tier economy in little more than a generation; Canada’s banking system weathered the 2008 recession better than America’s – but there is only one nation in which individual freedom is regarded not as a “system” or a “policy,” but as a pre-political principle, a true foundation. If you share this principle, then America is, at present, your only practical hope for the future of mankind.

...

In the case of America, the outsider (or new arrival) has another practical advantage – namely, an insight into the subtleties of decayed or extinguished liberty which may be overlooked by those still at an earlier stage of decline. Tocqueville, a Frenchman, saw firsthand how a revolution in the name of liberty and equality can produce an outcome far murkier than the promise implied in its noblest declarations. Thus, even in the obscurest minutiae of his travelogue of the American spirit, one senses the deep, satisfied inhalations of a man finding the fresh air he had spent his young life seeking without avail at home.

...

It is no accident, for example, that [Mark] Steyn, a Canadian, has been perhaps the strongest, most relentless voice over these past few years on the dangers of ObamaCare. I, too, have returned to health care again and again. To have lived in a socialized medical system is to have witnessed the heart of the stealthy darkness Tocqueville foresaw. Socialized medicine is the demise of individual liberty in the guise of “equal access,” a gluttonous economic shark masked as “affordability,” and a final denial of the dignity of all human life, euphemized as “universal care.”

...

As we who have lived it can attest, modern socialist oppression does not bring the secret police to your door. The old folks will not be rounded up. Rather, the tax collectors and regulators are at your door – all the time, intractably, until their omnipresence in your pay slips and personal decisions feels so normal that you no longer question the loss of property rights and self-determination, and would even suspect or hate the man who would propose to remove that smothering security blanket.

...

Treating leftist authoritarianism as one side of the nation’s healthy political debate is by definition a violation of the American founding. Socialism cannot be put into practice to any degree without violating the Declaration’s primary rights and the Constitution’s delineations of the role of government. By allowing leftist policy to metastasize through all branches of the federal government for generations, a large portion of the population – including, sadly, many who see themselves as conservatives – have unwittingly forsaken most of what America, as a philosophical idea, stands for.

The leftist regulatory apparatus is already woven so thoroughly into American life – redefining and delimiting America beyond the reach of the Founding Fathers, let alone of any elected official – that the sturdiest, most clear-eyed Americans of this moment have come to see the election of a new president as merely one small victory in what must be a long, almost unwinnable war. Their perception is accurate.


Now that we’re stuck with President Obama and Obamacare, let’s renew our scorn for chief justice John Roberts. I was flabbergasted by Roberts’ foolish legal “reasoning.” Read Liberty Legal Foundation’s explanation of why it was such a terrible ruling:

The commerce clause was never intended to allow Congress to do anything it wants to do. The Court didn’t overturn Wickard v. Filburn, as we wanted, but it did agree that the individual mandate was beyond Congressional authority under the commerce clause. The Court said that even the Wickard standard doesn’t justify the individual mandate.

Unfortunately the Court then issued completely new and completely unexpected precedent granting Congress authority to enforce any regulation Congress can dream up; as long as enforcement is via a fine collected by the IRS. The Court’s Obamacare ruling blew all tax and spend clause precedent out of the water. It opened a completely new avenue for Congress to assert authority that was explicitly denied to Congress by the Founding Fathers.


Rabbi Aryeh Spero writes:

Is the “I care more” claim a qualification for leadership, or is doing what is right and workable a better formula? Better yet, should we as a country, founded on the unique morality of the Judeo-Christian ethos, knee-jerkily accept a platitude asserting the more we take from Peter to give to Paul the greater is our commitment to caring when, by so doing, we destroy the moral foundation of personal responsibility upon which the Judeo-Christian ethos is built?

History has shown that self-aggrandizing feel-goodism showered top-down from the “caring class” is mere sentiment and falls far short of that which the individual gains through virtue and fulfilling his personal moral obligations. While that which is intrinsically moral uplifts and builds, that which is emoted from feel-good sentiments alone often weakens the individual and results in catastrophic dependency.


I couldn’t believe the final IBD/TIPP poll before the election, favoring Obama by 1.6 percent. I suppressed my incredulity until I saw how tight Virginia and Florida were. I won’t distrust that poll again. It was the most accurate poll in 2004 and 2008.


Watching the returns come in on Fox News, I was pleased by Tucker Carlson’s analysis of the changing electorate. Religious observance is way down, and religious “nones” are way up, he observed. Marriage is on the decline, and single women are ascending. These people break two to one in favor of Democrats.

I know why. Lacking belief in a higher good, nones indiscriminately aspire to nothing more than fleeting personal pleasure. In their world in which anything goes, they see in conservatives, who preach moral restraint, an enemy. As for single women, they are not really single. They are as wedded to the state as “married” women are wedded to their husbands.

I couldn’t find video of Carlson’s analysis Tuesday night, but it’s an argument he has made before.


In line with the Carlson’s point about religious nones, Mark Tooley observes:

Weekly church goers of all churches, who comprised 42 percent of the electorate, supported Romney by 59 to 39 percent. By contrast, more occasional church attenders, comprising 40 percent of voters, supported Obama by 55 to 43 percent. Those who never attend, comprising 17 percent, supported him by 62 to 34 percent. The 12 percent who report no religious affiliation supported Obama by 70 percent to 26 percent.


Dennis Miller offers excellent layman’s analysis of the election:

I like a country where people bust their tookus, and I think this country’s gone a long way towards becoming more of a European model. And I would say, once again, read the book, Amity Shlaes’ book, The Forgotten Man...if you are out there now, making $45,000 a year busting your hump, being away from your family, because it’s in your hard drive to do the right thing...the right thing changed in this country yesterday. You can get close to that from the government.


Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner is optimistic, although I don’t know why. The exit poll data don’t matter if, when it counts, the majority of people ask government to play the largest role in steering their miserable, uninspiring lives.

According to exit polls as described by Politico, “53 percent of those surveyed said the government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals – a figure that’s risen 10 points since the 2008 election. Comparatively, 41 percent of voters said they believe government should be doing more.”


Joseph Farah at World Net Daily copes with the loss this way:

For those of us who fundamentally reject Obama’s policies, things are going to get very rough for the next four years. We have allowed our fellow Americans to pronounce judgment on the nation.

That’s what Obama represents to me – God’s judgment on a people who have turned away from Him and His ways and from everything for which our founders sacrificed their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.


Selwyn Duke writes why conservatives can’t ignore the culture war in making their argument to the electorate:

Fighting in the political arena while losing the culture is like trying to grow beautiful leaves on a tree whose roots are beset with steady rot. Sure, we may win some battles, but they’re merely a rightward movement of deck chairs on a ship steadily drifting left.


How many million illegal immigrants do every day what Mark Basseley Youssef did and don’t get a year in the federal pen? We know Youssef’s real offense: offending Muslims.

Says Afshin Ellian, via Diana West:

If you cannot say that Islam is a backward religion and that Muhammad is a criminal, then you are living in an Islamic country, my friend, because there you also cannot say such things. I may say Christ was a homosexual and Mary was a prostitute, but apparently I should stay off of Muhammad.


Ron Miller writes in “Slavery and the Constitution”:

Slavery was a great evil, to be sure, but the Constitution was neither its source nor its guarantor. Indeed, the rhetoric of the Revolution and the principles of the Constitution both seemed to undermine claims for arbitrary power and the private use of force, which were inherent in the relationship between master and slave. This tension between slavery and the principles of American government was palpable during the Revolutionary era, and denunciations of slavery were commonplace. James Madison, long remembered as the Father of the Constitution, considered chattel slavery to be “the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man,” and Madison expressed his own view during debates at the Constitutional Convention that it would “be wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men.” The influential Virginian (and slaveholder) was not alone in his reticence to name the institution, and it is telling that the word “slavery” never appears in the constitutional text.

Consider, along these lines, Abraham Lincoln’s interpretation of those three main constitutional compromises with slavery. “I understand the contemporaneous history of those times,” Lincoln maintained during his famous 1858 debates with Stephen Douglas, “to be that covert language was used with a purpose, and that purpose was that...when it should be read by intelligent and patriotic men, after the institution of slavery had passed from among us—there should be nothing on the face of the great charter of liberty suggesting that such a thing as negro slavery had ever existed among us.”


Gary DeMar has another take on slavery:

It’s true that many blacks are not slaves to the liberal slave system. They’ve broken free, but this has not stop [sic] many of them from supporting the Democrats and their policies of generational dependency. In effect, they’re contributing to economic slavery among their own people.

Wealth transfer subsidies have led to the immobility of the poor, the breakup of the family, and dependency on government programs. Poor people on government subsidies find it difficult to break free because getting a job will mean a loss of benefits and the payment of more taxes. I spoke with a man who owns several businesses. He tells me that many of the people who work for him only work a certain number of hours per week because if they work one more hour, they’ll lose their benefits. They’re trapped.


Celebrating the “marriage equality” victories in four of four states (which I sadly predicted for Maryland), Ana Marie Cox writes in the Guardian:

There is good news and bad news for backers of marriage equality: the good news is that you’ve won the argument; the bad news is that you might not have needed to spend quite as much money as you did. Gay rights have inertia, not momentum, on their side: the effort it takes to convince someone to oppress someone else has become greater than the effort needed to maintain the status quo. This is civil rights not as the unstoppable force, but the immovable object.

This is the stupid reductionism you get when you see any and all discrimination as bad. The traditional definition of marriage is “oppressive.” So is the driving age, one presumes.

I may have mentioned this already, but it’s worth repeating: Radical egalitarianism (re: “Redistribution of marriage”) is a cult of indiscriminateness. Evan Sayet was right.


Tom Gilson at First Things critiques a same-sex marriage activist’s dramatic performance linking traditional marriage to anti-miscegenation laws:

What was [his] argument? Apparently it was supposed to be something like this: “Racist white preachers used the Bible to support segregation, which was wrong; therefore conservative Christians who use the Bible today to oppose gay rights today are wrong. Future Christians will be as embarrassed over today’s opposition to gay rights as we are now over the racism in our past.”

But racist preachers (whoever they may have been) didn’t get their teachings from the Bible. To the extent they used the Bible to support racist conclusions, they were twisting it beyond recognition. From early in Genesis, through the ministry of Jesus Christ, even all the way to the end in Revelation, the Bible celebrates and supports the value of “all peoples” (ethné in the Greek, meaning tribes, colors, languages, and nations). There is nothing there that supports racial segregation.


Jim Powell writes in Forbes:

Perhaps Romney’s most critical weakness was his inability to defend American taxpayers from Obama’s relentless class warfare, the moral crusade to drain more and more revenue out of the private sector. Romney appeared helpless when Obama accused him of proposing generous tax cuts! It was embarrassing to see Romney backtrack as if he were guilty of something, saying he wasn’t really cutting taxes — he was just taking away deductions, especially for the rich.

Amidst America’s alarming economic stagnation, Romney failed to champion a program for economic growth via across-the-board tax cuts like Ronald Reagan had done with spectacular success three decades ago. Incredibly, Romney hardly said a word about tax cuts at the Republican National Convention or in his stump speeches.

If the Republican Party cannot defend American taxpayers against endless assaults from the bloated public sector, then what good is it?

Class warfare involves a moral appeal (“fairness”), and it must be met by a moral appeal (liberty).

And we need to explain the philosophical and historical origins of those distinct moral systems. One belongs in the post-Enlightenment Judeo-Christian tradition, the other in secular humanism.


I support the Keystone pipeline, but eminent domain is immoral. Property is a sacred right. One’s right to pursue property must not curtail another right to retain property.

Eminent domain is a touchy topic in Texas. In 2002, Gov. Rick Perry proposed a Trans-Texas Corridor, a private sector network of highways. The main artery would be a 600-mile road running from Mexico to the Red River that would be the width of four football fields. After an outcry about the seizure of private land – and increased traffic from Mexico – the state transportation department killed the idea.

For that reason alone I voted for Carole Keeton Strayhorn (mother of turncoat Scott McClellan) for governor in 2006.


Courtney E. Martin writes a touching piece in the Christian Post about community in the wake of disaster (re: “Mother isn’t there”):

In “A Paradise Built in Hell,” Rebecca Solnit wrote that in disasters, “how you behave depends on whether you think your neighbors or fellow citizens are a greater threat than the havoc wrought by a disaster or a greater good than the property in houses and stores around you.”

We couldn’t turn away from the greater good of these two random human beings that Sandy had introduced to us – this woman, her hair thin on her head, worry on her face, or this man, hobbling around on his cane, telling us what to keep and what to pitch in his thick Italian accent. Plaster puppy statue – keep. Wicker bench – pitch. Painted plates – keep.

I looked around at my husband and our three dear friends, Brooklyn creatives all covered in mud, faces obscured by hospital masks, shoveling densely matted drywall in heaps on the driveway into a wheelbarrow, wordlessly.

The physicality, immediacy, and selflessness – not heroism, but literally the disappearance of the self – was dignifying.

They said that we could come back a year from now and all raise a glass together. It was their way of saying thanks. I smiled and told them that I looked forward to it, even as I knew that it would never happen.

But that’s okay. It was never about that.


Brent Dean at Red Pill Report explains how communities are supposed to respond to disaster:

When examining the help from private entities and citizens, the response time is shorter and is actually helpful. Glenn Beck’s charity organization MercuryOne.org was the first to arrive in New York to give out food and water. They beat out FEMA and the RedCross. They targeted churches to distribute the aid. Why? Because churches are part of the communities. They are affected just like the family down the street, and they know where aid is needed and can get it there immediately.

In light of the rise of the nones and the fact that we now live in a secularistocracy, it’s debatable whether local churches really are part of the devastated communities in New York and New Jersey.


I find the energy to carry on from scum like Martin Bashir: “For once, hate lost.”


Jeffrey Lord sounds like a regular visitor to and fan of this blog (re: “Slaves to nature”). He writes in the American Spectator:

Let’s review the fundamental principles again. One cannot plunge the country into astronomical debt without there being a financial come-to-Jesus reckoning. One cannot tempt aggression with weakness. One cannot tax one’s way to prosperity. One cannot build a behemoth federal government and expect the country to prosper. One cannot, as Mark Levin puts it, not understand the “interconnection of liberty, free markets, religion, tradition and authority” – and not pay a price for that lack of understanding.

...

White, brown, black, yellow, red, male, female, gay, straight, young, old, near-sighted or far-sighted, athlete or couch potato – to one and all, forever and ever the laws of gravity both physical and political will apply eternally. And to the extent these laws are willfully ignored there will be a price to be paid. History is chock full of stories of people and whole countries getting hurt by ignoring the political laws of gravity as surely as if they were ignoring the physical laws of gravity. They may have been convinced they could make that leap unscathed from the political Empire State Building – but they always, always, always found out otherwise. And they found out the hard way.


At the Washington Post Chris Cillizza handicaps the 2016 presidential race. My own prediction is Marco Rubio and Martin O’Malley will win the Republican and Democratic nominations, respectively.

O’Malley was my governor for 5 years. Federal bloat keeps his welfare state flush with cash. The District of Columbia is literally too small for the federal government, which has spilled over into Maryland and more recently into Virginia. Many lies will be spread about the booming Maryland economy O’Malley led. But he’s no different than the rest of them: He’s a tax-and-spend liberal, a marriage redefinist, and an illegal immigrant panderer. A faux “Catholic” through and through.


Tom Bethel of the American Spectator writes a piece in praise of George Gilder, whose Men and Marriage is the best nonfiction book I’ve ever read.

George Gilder is the most original thinker of our time and perhaps our leading conservative writer. One of his great strengths has always been his optimism. There are some downbeat notes in his new edition, so I asked him if he was still an optimist.

“I get up in the morning,” he replied, “I write books, I make investments.” But he allowed that he is concerned about what might happen if Obama is reelected. For one thing, there could be “war in the Middle East.”

I, too, get up in the morning, write books, make investments, etc. But, unlike Gilder, I haven’t lived yet. I’m 26 years old. He’s 72, approaching the twilight of life. Merely enduring the rest of life probably doesn’t seem as bad to him as it does to me.


Adam Gopnik libels Paul Ryan an “Ayatollah,” so Albert Mohler springs to Ryan’s defense:

Ryan stated the obvious — “Our faith informs us in everything we do.” Any faith of substance will inform every dimension of our lives. It is hard to imagine that Adam Gopnik would have complained or even taken offense if a similar statement had been made, for example, by the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., concerning his advocacy for civil rights.

Our total worldview inevitably “informs us in everything we do.” Paul Ryan was simply responding with honesty, and he did not call for a theocracy. Interestingly, Joseph Biden, though a champion of a woman’s right to choose, has repeatedly claimed the influence of his Roman Catholic faith in other arenas of public policy, especially economics. This has not elicited similar cries from liberals, accusing Biden of attempting to forge a theocracy.

Gopnik attempted to make his position clear, arguing that religious beliefs “should not inform us in everything we do, or there would be no end to the religious warfare that our tolerant founders feared.” Mr. Gopnik would no doubt be surprised to discover that many of the founders were not so tolerant, in his sense, as he believes. A good many argued for the absolute necessity of theism as a foundation for morality and civil society. In any event, does he really believe that a candidate’s most deeply held convictions should have no influence in his or her thinking on the most serious of issues? That is not only impossible; it is absurd.


In “Why Liberals Are Misreading Mourdock,” Amy Sullivan “defends” Richard Mourdock:

Lots of Republican politicians oppose rape exceptions. Paul Ryan, for one, opposes abortion in the case of rape. Rarely does anyone bother to offer an explanation for why he holds that position. (Todd Akin famously did earlier this year, and that didn’t go so well for him.) I’m not sure what justifications people had imagined for opposing a rape exception that would be more acceptable than Mourdock’s.

Despite the assertions of many liberal writers I read and otherwise admire, I don’t think that politicians like Mourdock oppose rape exceptions because they hate women or want to control women. I think they’re totally oblivious and insensitive and can’t for a moment place themselves in the shoes of a woman who becomes pregnant from a rape. I think most don’t particularly care that their policy decisions can impact what control a woman does or doesn’t have over her own body. But if Mourdock believes that God creates all life and that to end a life created by God is murder, then all abortion is murder, regardless of the circumstances in which a pregnancy came about.

Why do even “nuanced” liberals like Amy Sullivan think Republicans are “totally oblivious and insensitive”? Because they, in the spirit of hyperpartisanship and hypersensitivity, construe a statement on the value of human life into disdain for rape victims. It goes without saying rape is a terrible trauma. But liberals in their obsessive empathy would allow rape victims the choice to murder the unborn. In the rare cases of pregnancy resulting from rape, that life deserves the law’s protection. Period.


Scott Klusendorf at the Gospel Coalition offers the best pro-life argument I’ve ever read:

Here’s how I engaged the student at Colgate University. When she said she was personally against abortion but wanted to keep it legal, I asked a very simple question I learned from Greg Koukl: “Why are you against abortion?” When she replied, “Because it’s killing, and I personally think it’s wrong to do that,” I asked: “What does abortion kill?” She was hesitant, but honest: “Um, I guess a human being?”

She’s right. If abortion doesn’t unjustly kill an innocent human being, why oppose it at all? Then, very gently, I pressed the point home. “Let me see if I understand you correctly – and if I don’t, please feel free to clarify. You’re personally against abortion because you think it wrongly kills a human being, but you want it to be legal to kill that human being?”

I appreciated her candid reply. “I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure that out.”


Last, but not least, Dean Kalahar, writing for RealClear Markets steps up to the plate and hits a grand slam. Before reading on, I recommend removing any sharp objects within arm’s reach.

The electorates’ decision once and for all confirms a definition of America that values hopes, feelings and equality of results over the realities of human nature, history, and the foundational principles that hold western civilization together. There is now no doubt that the tipping point of geometrically increasing cultural decline has been crossed. America has now firmly changed from a nation where the founding principles of the great enlightenment have been substituted for a utopia of widespread human suffering. There is no going back.

This change is not due to one person or event. For fifty years we have seen systemic institutional decay to the vital institutions across our cultural landscape that sustains America. And like a canary in a mine providing an early warning signal to dangers, we have been warned time and time again that we were losing our footing and chose to ignore the obvious.

Today the foundational pillars of civilization that have sustained America have been voted insignificant and will be allowed to collapse. The result is a New America for sure, but it is not a greater America. It is an America that has sown the seeds of its own demise, blinded by self inflicted wounds, disguised by false compassion, and based on trust in a human condition that is not in our nature.

A callous society focused on self has been defining deviancy downward, as the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned us, for a long time. Sometimes covertly and other times overtly, a cultural war was being raged in America by a progressive “tolerance” movement that is intolerant of institutional traditions, principles, and laws that were created and tested over thousands of years of trial and error. Those who have lectured us have shown a condescending hypocrisy of moral relativism towards any concept that might interfere with their self-anointed sensibilities of creating a utopia so as to avoid self awareness. The walls of the republic have been crumbling for some time. Now the collapse is all but inevitable because, and let’s be clear, they have won.