Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I’m gayer than Jason Collins

Since public confessions of sexual identity are in vogue these days, let me announce that I’m gayer than Jason Collins. You read that right. I’m gayer than Jason Collins, and I’m not embarrassed to say so.

I’ve never considered myself gay, but Jason Collins’ coming out has me rethinking my sexual identity. The empirical evidence points to one conclusion: I’m gayer than Jason Collins.

I do not base this conclusion on murky definitions of sexual orientation, attraction, and so on. I will rely solely on documented sexual experience.

Collins was in an 8-year heterosexual relationship with a hot blonde. I haven’t been in an 8-month heterosexual relationship, let alone with a hot blonde. Collins was engaged to marry this woman. I haven’t even proposed marriage to a woman.

Contrary to his reputation as the gay athlete, Collins is not reported to have been in a homosexual relationship. Neither have I, although I have shown affection towards men, most recently when I slapped a male coworker on the shoulder in greetings this morning. And, as a member of the tennis team in high school, I have been seen in the nude by more men than women.

These facts may challenge whether Jason Collins really is gay. Indeed they may challenge your notion of what “gay” even means. Don’t worry about it. All you need to know is that the unique history of Collins’ sexual experience, behavior, and attraction—the complexities of which he himself may not comprehend—is perfectly condensed into a fully understood sexual identity in a single, simple, 3-letter word: gay.

Furthermore, you needn’t worry whether Collins’ implicit announcement of sexual availability to his male teammates will affect the locker room in unforeseen ways. The sexual discipline of heterosexual male athletes is beyond question. Only a bigot would suggest otherwise. Dalliances never occur among ostensibly “straight” men, even when they shower naked together.

Then again, who among them can claim to be straight, if they are as gay as I am?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Liberty is the means

It is curious how Sen. Rand Paul attempts to sell the liberty agenda by appealing to drug users and Louis Farrakhan followers, as if silence bordering on endorsement—instead of wise counseling against poor choices—will win liberal and libertarian converts to the Republican Party. Is this the “new GOP” Paul envisions, in which freedom of choice—and not the choice itself—is the highest exalted good?

The tyranny we are rebelling against is an increasingly aggressive nanny state that thinks it can rewrite nature and the nature of man. To paraphrase the Fabian socialist window, they want to mold the Earth nearer to their heart’s desire. Every civil institution is subordinate to this task. If it can’t be hijacked, as schools have been hijacked, then it is destroyed, as the family has been destroyed.

The tyrants have hijacked liberty. They have turned it from unburdened pursuit of noble ends into a license to sin. They have nothing to say about sexual immorality, which erodes the procreative bonds among parents and their children as well as the threads of the past extending through the present into the future. They have nothing to say about the perils of habitual drug use, synonymous with sloth, irresponsibility, and less sound mind. They understand the more corrupt the people are, the stronger their case for controlling the people.

What good is liberty if we don’t know how to use it? Rand Paul says of the so-called Facebook generation: “They aren’t afraid of individual liberty.” Maybe they should be. Or maybe they should just be more cognizant of how some exercises of individual liberty foreclose them from productive society and upend their lives.

As a matter of principle, one cannot oppose marijuana legalization while allowing alcohol or nicotine use and claim logical consistency. But we know legalizing marijuana will increase habitual usage and hurt communities in ways that repeal of prohibition did not. It’s not paternalistic to suggest there’s a very good reason laws against drugs, gambling, and prostitution are on the books. The effects of these activities permeate the community like osmosis. The stigmas are well-founded. Not many genealogies are perpetuated on a diet of sin.

Further reading: “Bill of bads” and “Pharisees’ cattle.”

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Numbers on a screen

Wealth is created when something ill-suited for human use, like raw earth material, is transformed into a valuable, usable product. The medium of that transformation is human work. As John Locke wrote (hat tip Mark Levin): “He removes out of the state that Nature hath provided and left it in, he hath mixed his labor with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property.” Money doesn’t grow on trees; it grows on the calluses on your hands.

“Money doesn’t grow on trees.” What an outmoded saying in the modern era. One may as well say “money doesn’t grow on computer keys.” But these days it does.

At least, we pretend it does. There is actually zero value in the billions of dollars the Federal Reserve “prints” to buy up illiquid Treasury debt. They are no more than numbers on a screen, but they look the same as the balance in your checking account or savings account, real money with real value that you created with your work. The effect on your money is like when you add water to acid: It becomes diluted. Its buying power, relative to a static market of goods, falls. This is called inflation.

In 5 years, U.S. government debt has increased $6 trillion. Forget for a moment that this is a catastrophic forsaking of the future. That’s $6 trillion that didn’t exist in 2008. If that money were moving through the economy with velocity, prices would be shooting through the roof.

Unless, of course, the money sticks. Obstructions to market knowledge in the form of unpredictable government interventions have ground voluntary transactions to a snail’s pace. Uncertainty has turned us from a country of wealth creators into a country of wealth hoarders.

Retreat is a natural response to danger, but mass flight from the marketplace is a moral ill. It deprives people of otherwise added value to their economic lives. In the parable of the talents, Jesus rebukes the man who hoards the sum of gold He gave him: “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed” (Matthew 25:26).

Our gifts—whether they be our resources, knowledge, or raw talent—are meant to be put to work to better the lives of others. Under these conditions, however, that is less and less likely.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Odds and ends 4/22/2013

This InfoWars commentary is excellent (re: “Mom and dad and the regime”):

“We have to break through our private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families,” says the professor of political science at Tulane University, where she is founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South. Kids belong to whole communities, she insists, and once we realize this we’ll make “better investments” in government indoctrination of children.

Melissa Harris-Perry is regurgitating the Obama “you didn’t build that” meme. “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that,” Obama said during a campaign stop in Roanoke, Virginia. “Somebody else made that happen,” it was not the result of individual initiative. “The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

“Like most people of his ideological bent, Obama either cannot or will not distinguish between society — which is created through peaceful commerce and other forms of private cooperation — and the state — an anti-social artifact built on conquest, coercion, and confiscation of wealth,” writes William Grigg. “Government produces nothing; it is an exercise in pure consumption and, usually, the destruction of capital. As Nietzsche famously said, everything the State has is stolen.”

Stephan Kinsella argues that the primary social evil today is a lack of respect for the fundamental right of self-ownership. Obama and Harris-Perry represent the other side of this argument. They believe, as do all Marxists and socialists, that the state, what Harris-Perry calls the “community,” owns the individual.

Harris-Perry urges us to “break through” the “private idea” that individuals own themselves. Like Marx, she believes the individual is a “communal being” and all human worth is intractably linked to the community, the collective, and the state is the ultimate manifestation of the collective will.

“To whom do children belong?” asks Melissa Moschella at Public Discourse. Answer:

Children belong first and foremost to their families headed by their parents, who, due to their uniquely intimate relationship with their children, are the ones with the most direct obligation and authority to care for them until they are sufficiently mature to direct their own lives.

It is thus not directly but through their families that children belong to the larger political community, and it is also through their parents that the political community exercises paternalistic authority over them (except in cases where the authority of parents is clearly failing to fulfill its function—i.e., cases of abuse and neglect).

In other words, children’s relationship to the political community is fundamentally different from that of adults, because it is mediated through their belonging to a family and living under the authority of their parents.


“Part of the inner architecture of the American ideal of freedom has been the profound conviction that only a virtuous people can be free. It is not an American belief that free government is inevitable, only that it is possible, and that its possibility can be realized only when the people as a whole are inwardly governed by the recognized imperatives of the universal moral law.” –Courtney Murray (hat tip Katherine Infantine of First Things)

George Weigel riffs in National Affairs:

There are no agreed-upon, reality-based reference points to which the contending parties can appeal in order to settle the argument about whose concept of the public good, and how it ought to be achieved, is the course to be followed.

Public policy that fosters individual human flourishing and the common good must take account of reality, and realities. When a culture loses confidence in its capacity to say, with conviction, “this is The Way Things Are,” its capacity to devise ways and means of addressing The Way Things Ought To Be is severely eroded. In a culture without metaphysics, the one trump card in public life becomes individual willfulness. And then, because politics is an expression of culture, both the citizenry and its political leaders increasingly come to resemble Lewis Carroll’s White Queen, who “believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Reality contact, it seems, is important not only for personal mental health. Reality contact is essential to making democracy work. Yet an insistence on avoiding reality is more or less the organizing principle of our political life these days. It lies at the center of a great many of our public problems, and it connects them to one another.

The desire to separate those problems and handle them individually — say, to “put aside the social issues” and just worry about the budget deficit, as many a well-meaning advisor to today’s Republican Party now suggests — is no less naïve and unreal an approach to political life than is the desire to ignore the substance of each problem and pretend we can inhabit a world of our own imagination. Responsible, democratic self-governance, and effective public policy that addresses rather than postpones problems, begins by accepting reality. That this seems awfully difficult for many of our fellow citizens these days is perhaps the most grave of our problems.


On the hook-up culture, Katharine K. Baker summarizes in her abstract (hat tip Anna Williams of First Things):

Hook-up norms [...] perpetuate the sexual double standard, disproportionately hurt lower income women who cannot compete in hook-up status games, and valorize boorish, selfish male sexual behavior. In doing so, hook-up norms likely hurt young women’s ability to secure what they say they eventually want, which is sexual relationships rooted in equality.

Rod Dreher chimes in:

The contemporary left (unlike the Old Left) believes that the only revolution worth fighting for is the Sexual Revolution, and that whatever it takes to preserve and expand sexual autonomy and choice is good and necessary. The thing is, the people who have voices in the media and academia to defend this point of view are middle-class and upper-middle-class people who, as Reihan [Salam] says, are by and large insulated from the human reality of the world they’ve helped bring into existence, and are bringing into existence.

Just the other day I thought, What’s Jill Filipovic up to these days? I navigated to her Guardian column and found this Pulitzer-worthy gem:

Heterosexual women need male partners who are respectful, generous in bed and emotionally competent, and who treat women like people regardless of whether those women are girlfriends, one-night stands or friends with benefits.

Because all lifestyle choices command equal treatment, regardless of how out of step with sexual nature they are. The naiveté (or intellectual dishonesty, take your pick) is breathtaking. But wait, there’s more:

Coy Mathis is six years old, and she just wants to use the bathroom at school. For a year and a half, it wasn’t an issue. But in December, Coy’s school informed her parents that she would no longer be permitted to use the girls’ restroom. She would have to use the boys’ room, the staff bathroom or the one in the nurse’s office. Why? Because Coy was assigned male at birth.

Coy is one of many transgender and gender-nonconforming children in the United States who face discrimination, harassment and bullying – from adults and kids alike – simply for existing. Coy’s school didn’t report any problems with her using the girls’ room; they barred her from it nonetheless, singling her out for a special bathroom.

...

Putting aside the creepiness of the school’s concern for one of its student’s genitals, and that in 29 years of using women’s bathrooms, I have never once caught a glimpse of anyone else’s bare crotch, it’s worth asking: why should the potential future discomfort of yet-to-be-discomfited students or parents trump the right of a six-year-old kid to be treated like everyone else?

Boys in the boys’ room and girls in the girls’ room. Creepy, indeed.

Daniel Greenfield sounds off:

Destroying gender roles was a prerequisite to destroying gender. Each deconstruction leads naturally to the next deconstruction with no final destination except total deconstruction.

Gay marriage is not a stopping point, just as men in women’s clothing using the ladies room is not a stopping point. There is no stopping point at all.

The left’s deconstruction of social institutions is not a quest for equality, but for destruction. As long as the institutions that preceded it exist, it will go on deconstructing them until there is nothing left but a blank canvas, an unthinking anarchy, on which it can impose its perfect and ideal conception of how everyone should live.

Equality is merely a pretext for deconstruction. Change the parameters of a thing and it ceases to function. Redefine it and expand it and it no longer means anything at all. A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but if you change ‘rose’ to mean anything that sticks out of the ground, then the entire notion of what is being discussed has gone and cannot be reclaimed without also reclaiming language.

Lisa Fabrizio writes a blockbuster piece in the American Spectator:

When I was a little girl back in the early 1960s, before the world went mad, life was easier than it is today. Why? Because, as so elegantly put by Edith Bunker above, everyone knew who they were then: girls were girls and men were men. Today, girls are raised to be men and men are, well, they’re just confused. The deadly combination of feminism, socialism, and political correctness have robbed two generations of Americans — aptly named Generation X, and Y; the unknown quantities — of their proper identities according to the Natural Law. Day after day give evidence that the tender mercies of liberals have left millions of people dazed and confused and our moral fiber in tatters.

...

In the past, boys were raised to grow into men who were respectful of women and their elders, but during childhood they were expected to show a certain degree of rambunctiousness; as in “boys will be boys.” Now, their boyish ways are drugged out of them by their communal village parents; until, that is, they reach adulthood, where our modern culture encourages them to act as loutish, irresponsible children forever. Confusing? Not really, when you consider that the aim of liberals seeks to keep them docile as regards their former status as heads of households and responsible American guardians of their family’s autonomy and liberty.

Andrew Durand writes:

The answer to why men are spending large amounts of time “pre-adulthood” is simple; there is nothing better to do. It may anger certain people when I say this but men are programmed as protectors. Whether this is due to a history of patriarchal social conditioning or God imbued virtue has little significance to our present period. The responsibilities of a husband and father are the driving forces in a “good man” and if these are removed the man has no purpose. I’m not saying men will have no purpose if they do not rear their own progeny but if they do not have someone to guide, they will struggle with feelings of insignificance and then only achieve insignificant things.

...

Give a young man a young wife and the prospect of children, and he will work to support and protect the well-being of this unit. Take this away, and he will drift into a hormonal laden man-boy with nothing better to do. I don’t want women to think I am demonizing their decisions to postpone the family for their own career and self-sufficiency. It is precisely because of the deadbeat dads and abusive fathers that have pushed women to seek a safety net before jumping into the nuclear family. Unfortunately for men though, the minority of jerks have been projected onto the gender as a whole as far as how our culture is organized. More depressing still is the jerks have won. Now casual sexual encounters with no commitment, no children, and no feelings, are easily obtained. So easy, that many of the good men are choosing this enticing path in life since it offers no stress or heartbreak.

Donna Brazile doth protest too much, methinks:

If only the Princeton alum’s advice had come out 30 years earlier when I was in college, perhaps I could have avoided the costly mistake of focusing on what makes me come alive and then pursuing it for a living. Perhaps if I’d focused instead on nailing down a man by the time I was 22, I could be going to cocktail parties and co-opting my husband and children’s successes, bragging about them as if they were my own, rather than being forced to talk about the current state of politics or what we can do as a society to engage the next generation in the struggles of today.

Robert Samuelson of the Washington Post makes an argument that I’ve hewed around in several blog posts: that the post-feminist condition of men (contra women) threatens children’s welfare. The war on men is a war on the family.

In his 2012 book Coming Apart, Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute cited shifts in cultural norms. Having a child out of wedlock became more common and acceptable; the sexual revolution enabled men to get sex without marriage. The waning power of religion undermined the importance of family. Feminism and expanding welfare programs made it easier for women to survive — through jobs or aid — on their own. Liberalized divorce led to more breakups.

But there’s also a more strictly economic case. In a paper for Third Way, a liberal think tank, economists David Autor and Melanie Wasserman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology attribute the decline of marriage — which, like Murray, they say is concentrated among the poorly educated — to the eroding economic heft of men compared with women. Women are more independent economically; men are weaker. Marriage has lost much of its pecuniary pull.

Women have adjusted better than men to an economy with more office work and less factory, construction and transportation activity. Autor and Wasserman fear these changes are now feeding on themselves. On average, children in single-parent homes do worse — have lower grades, do more drugs, have higher arrest rates — than similar children raised by two parents, who can devote more money and time to their offspring. Boys seem especially at risk because they often lack “a positive or stable same-sex role model,” say Autor and Wasserman. So boys will do less well in school and less well (later) in the labor market. They will then be less appealing as husbands.

Writing in the Atlantic, Matthew O’Brien decries the plight of the long-term unemployed. His solution? A government program.

It's time for the government to start hiring the long-term unemployed. Or, at the least, start giving employers tax incentives to hire the long-term unemployed. The worst possible outcome for all of us is if the long-term unemployed become unemployable. That would permanently reduce our productive capacity.

Or, you know, free the economy from government meddling.


Justin Green relates to Rod Dreher’s biography of his sister, Ruthie.

I hated growing up in my small town in south-central Nebraska.

I hated the small talk, the old ladies asking about my great-uncles who I didn't even know very well, the odd town traditions I didn't fully understand, and the general lack of cosmopolitanism.

I hated the oppressive social climate, the ostracism, the lack of privacy, the way bookish kids like me were gently laughed at and considered weird, and I hated the corn.

Yes, I hated that damn corn, and what it represented to our town.

I hated that as an able-bodied male, I was expected to go out for football, basketball, and track. I hated that the expectation was for me to explain why I didn't want to participate in an activity, rather than why I should be allowed entry into a club or team.

I hated that people were quick to ask "what's wrong?" when I just wanted to be left alone. I hated that the town response to tragedy and suffering was to suffocate the afflicted family with attention. And I hated the idea that my business was everyone's business, and everyone's business my business.

...

When my Grandma died, I assumed my main connection to Sutton was gone with her. My parents had moved there to be closer to her, and surely they'd eventually move somewhere better suited for my Dad's job (which, sure enough, they soon would.) So what was left of my tie to that little small town in the middle of a corn field in the middle of the prairie?

Everything, it turns out. I've tried to forget the grudges, the painful memories, the resentments I allowed to fester in my heart for so long. I've tried to simply move on from the little town that defined my life for what felt like such a long time.

But every time I try, I realize how much of a selfish ass I really am.

All of it was for us: the stifling nature, the insistence that everyone should know everything about everyone, that we should all be hyperinvolved in a slew of activities that had little to do with us, the small talk, and the identification of people by family instead of individual personality. That's all by design, it's all because of love, and it's something I'm glad I got to experience. It's community, and most kids my age will never know what that really means.

I don't like my hometown. But I do love it, because it – in its own infuriating way – taught me the most important lesson in life: you haven't grown up until you care about someone else more than yourself.


“Hard libertarianism isn’t a winning philosophy, except among some testosterone-poisoned single twenty-something males.” –David Mills

George Neumayr catalogs the encroaching secularistocracy in the U.S. military in the American Spectator.

More on the secularistocracy from Simon de Hundehutte at the American Thinker:

The early Christians lived in the secular society of Rome, but by heralding the good news of salvation, what some might call "thumping," their words along with their deeds changed all of society of their day. In present-day America, however, secularists have taken over and changed the rules of the debate on so many key cultural issues.

Religion, or more accurately, the Christian way of life, is being shoved out of not only politics but the American culture. We believers are being forced to accept things anathema to our way of thinking and living – accept them or be labeled "haters" or, more recently, "thumpers."

...

I walked past a parked car the other day that was plastered with bumper stickers championing a far-left point of view. One that especially grabbed my attention said, "The last time religion and politics mixed, People got burned at the stake!"

After pondering this for a second, I thought, I wish I could meet the driver of this car and let him know that a more accurate statement would be, "The last time religion and politics mixed, William Wilberforce freed the slaves." It has been Gospel-believing Christians, applying the tenets of the Word of God, who have taken on the huge challenges of humanity and, many times through much personal sacrifice (think martyrs), have freed many from bondage.


David DeWolf at First Things reflects on Planned Parenthood advocate Lisa Snow’s ambivalance about the murder of babies “accidentally” born alive during an abortion:

It shouldn’t be surprising that someone representing Planned Parenthood forgot about that boundary line between a baby on that side of the birth canal and a baby on this side. It has always been an artificial distinction. At one time there were clear distinctions between babies who wouldn’t be able to survive outside the womb and those who could. If you artificially expelled a baby from the womb, in virtually all cases there was no realistic chance of survival. But now that babies are surviving at earlier and earlier gestational ages, it is harder to justify why the deliberate killing of one baby is a decision solely “between the woman and her physician,” while the deliberate killing of the other (or the deliberate failure to provide medical care, by placing the child in a closet, for example) is murder.

Collin Garbarino sounds off on the Gosnell trial:

Many Americans will begin to question why it is legal to sever a baby’s spine in the womb when it is murder to sever the same baby’s spine in the examination room. Since when did murder take geography into account?

Robert P. George calls for Gosnell’s life to be spared. His argument is convincing:

Gosnell merely carried out the logic of the abortion license that is enshrined and protected in our law. One might note that there is no moral difference between dismembering a child inside the womb (which our jurisprudence, alas, treats as a constitutional liberty) and snipping a child’s neck after he or she has emerged from the womb (potentially a capital offense). How can our legal system impose the death penalty on Gosnell, given the arbitrariness and irrationality of the underlying law?

Elisabeth Scalia:

For the five or six thousand years preceding the last fifty, no one needed an explicit pronouncement that marriage was an office involving opposite sexes because it seemed obvious. In the last half century, however, human sexual mechanisms have become utilized less for production and more for pleasure, and our national endorphin overdose has left us disoriented enough to argue that if Mom doesn’t say we can’t go skeet shooting with the good china, it must mean we can.

A feminist writing for Slate endorses polygamy.

As a feminist, it’s easy and intuitive to support women who choose education, independence, and careers. It’s not as intuitive to support women who choose values and lifestyles that seem outdated or even sexist, but those women deserve our respect just as much as any others. It’s condescending, not supportive, to minimize them as mere “victims” without considering the possibility that some of them have simply made a different choice.

Jillian Keenan is willing to set aside her prejudice against certain lifestyles, if it means the further unraveling of marriage’s meaning.

The definition of marriage is plastic. Just like heterosexual marriage is no better or worse than homosexual marriage, marriage between two consenting adults is not inherently more or less “correct” than marriage among three (or four, or six) consenting adults. Though polygamists are a minority—a tiny minority, in fact—freedom has no value unless it extends to even the smallest and most marginalized groups among us. So let’s fight for marriage equality until it extends to every same-sex couple in the United States—and then let’s keep fighting. We’re not done yet.

They’re never done.


Daniel Kuebler rebukes Lada Gaga of “Born this Way” popularity in Public Discourse:

The underlying message is that we as a society should just accept any and all manifestations of sexual orientation and sexual behavior because people are merely acting upon their God-given biological inclinations. The end result for those saturated in this cultural marinade is that they are afraid to refuse the designation of marriage to same-sex couples who are only doing what comes “naturally” to them.

...

Human sexual inclinations are much more complex and nuanced, as evidenced by the broad continuum of human sexual orientations and behaviors. Because of this, social scientists lack a clear consensus on what exactly it means to be gay, bisexual, or lesbian. Not only is sexual orientation in humans difficult to pin down—should anyone who has homosexual thoughts be considered gay—it is notoriously fluid, as an individual’s identification as gay, bisexual, or heterosexual often changes repeatedly over time.

Excellent point. One I make here:

The activities of one night to the next, one person to the next, are at the mercy of a million unaccountable factors. Sexuality is mutable and not fixed.

...

Self-identification is arbitrary and contradicts sexual behavior. If a man claims he is heterosexual but is saving sex for marriage, does he qualify as a heterosexual? His behavior is more consistent with a homosexual virgin than a sexually active hetero. If a woman claims she is heterosexual, but has had fleeting experiences with other women, is she not in fact bisexual? The narrow sexual categories of self-identification break down into a history and a multitude of feelings, fetishes, and idiosyncracies for every unique individual.

More from Kuebler:

As primates, our sexual behavior is certainly influenced by our biology (this is true regardless of our sexual orientation). Yet the mere fact that we have a biological urge or tendency does not give us justification to act on it.

In fact, the legal and social framework of civil society is structured by the premise that we should keep our biologically-driven desires in check or channel them for the sake of the common good. For example, males have a biological tendency—it’s in our genetic make-up—to find pornography titillating. That doesn’t mean that our society should promote it or encourage its use. Evidence suggests that pornography use hurts our ability to form the stable committed relationships necessary to a productive, well-ordered society. Thus society has laws (though they are ever being eroded) that limit and restrict where pornography can be displayed and who can view it.

Likewise, the unfettered expression of the male sex drive, particularly by men who claim to have a biologically heightened appetite (addiction) to sex, is hardly beneficial to society. Just ask any kid growing up fatherless or any single mother abandoned by her child’s father. To prevent or mitigate these effects, our society has laws to counter these natural biological urges, laws against adultery, even though they are no longer enforced, and laws that require child support and alimony payments.

Clearly, having a biological predisposition or urge does not justify pursuing it, let alone justify promoting it as a society. The same holds true for same-sex marriage.

Daniel Mattson for First Things:

Though I am encouraged that Hill sees potential hazards in the use of terms like “gay Christian” and “homosexual Christian,” he, along with Gonnerman and Tushnet, may not sufficiently recognize the problems with describing or defining a person in terms of his or her affective desire for the same sex (whether that desire is relational, romantic, or sexual), in place of the clear definition of our sexual identity revealed to us by Scripture and the Church.

The danger of this position is that it leaves its adherents as a puzzle to themselves, because their beliefs about themselves will be at variance with their true nature. Further, it does injury to the dignity of what it means to be created “male and female” in the image and likeness of God. And I can find nothing in the Church’s magisterial teaching that would support the innovation they are proposing.

Words reveal truths about who we are in nature and in grace, and as such, we believe a falsehood about our nature when we embrace a gay identity, or when we believe that anyone has an “orientation” toward the same sex. I believe there is a natural law, and I believe in the truth proposed by the Catholic Church that my body reveals who (and what) I am. This truth about who I am, stitched into my very embodiedness as a man, supersedes any subjective experience I might have of “feeling (or being) gay,” regardless of whether I view that experience as positive (Tushnet and Gonnerman) or negative (Hill). So too with self-identified “transgendered” individuals who painfully feel themselves to be the wrong sex.

It is not just about what sex you’re attracted to. It’s about the manner of the attraction, its intensity, and how you act on it. It’s about how your experiences (all the conquests and failures and missed opportunities), if not unique in themselves, uniquely affect you. The endless variety is confirmed by the parade of teen soap operas like One Tree Hill, a successful genre because no two characters across series have identical sexual and romantic experiences, and evoke something different in viewers.


Krystal Ball teaches her daughter the meaning of marriage. You have to watch this to believe it:

Jeannie DeAngelis wonders: “Is Ms. Ball's point that if a child says it, it must be true – or that grownups who don't think like kindergarteners should be ashamed of themselves?”

Stephen J. Heaney writes a spectacular essay on marriage at Public Discourse. I’ll try not to quote too much of it:

A fellow walks up to the dog-licensing clerk and demands a license for his cat. The clerk points out that there is no such thing as a cat license, and thus he has no need of a cat license. Noting the man’s confusion, she explains that dogs and cats are different kinds of animals. Dogs tend to wander off and get lost, dig up other people’s yards, bite people, get into garbage, and leave their droppings in inconvenient places; cats generally do not do these things. Licensing would be pointless, for the government doesn’t need the same control over cats as it does over dogs.

The customer feels unaffirmed in his choice of a cat, and demands that the government recognize that his cat is just as important as a dog. Oh, but it’s not a question of importance, the clerk insists; it’s just that cats and dogs are quite different, and there is no government interest in licensing cats. He pesters her for so long that, eventually, the clerk, in sheer frustration, grabs a form, crosses out the word “dog” and writes in the word “cat” in crayon. The customer goes away pleased.

Unexpectedly, some of the man’s cat-owning friends soon follow suit. This raises concern for the licensing administrators. They really cannot justify taking money to license cats, yet it seems many people are made quite happy by having their choices validated. Finally, it occurs to someone that, since dogs are four-legged furry mammals with tails and claws, and cats are four-legged furry mammals with tails and claws—and after all, this really is the only set of characteristics that matters—then the obvious thing to do is to redefine “dog” so that it includes cats.

...

The push to redefine marriage is rooted both in human desire and prior policy choices. Given our penchant for liberty as license, we have chosen no-fault divorce and the complete separation of sexual acts from their natural end, children. Thus we now understand marriage in terms of its secondary, non-essential characteristics, like romantic love.

...

Marriage and family law have at their core, throughout history, a basic understanding of a universal fact: the sexual acts of man with woman result in children. For the sake of their offspring, they vow to each other and to the community to be sexually exclusive and remain together, blending their bodies, their goods, and their lives. Society supports them in their task. This is marriage.

Government does no more than recognize this fundamental fact of social life. Marriage comes to us already defined, and governments have typically tried to form policies that match the reality. It may well be that, from time to time and from place to place, there have been alterations in how this social arrangement plays out: which men may marry which women, how many spouses are permitted, how spouses and children inherit, how easily one may be released from the vow.

But never until the 1990s had anyone questioned what marriage is. Never before had anyone simply redefined the institution to be something else entirely, based on entirely non-essential characteristics. The new marriage regime is not about recognizing marriage; it is about validating people’s love interests. But society and its governing bodies have no more use for or an interest in granting a license for people’s loves and friendships than they have in licensing cat ownership.


Anthony Esolen does one better (hat tip Crisis Magazine):

The thing that a married man and woman do, that no one else can do, is to consummate the marriage, bringing it to its fullest realization. The marital act unites across the chasm of the sexes and across the generations, from the past into the future. In it alone do human beings bring together precious strands of human history, from the beginning of our race. In it alone dwells the possibility of new life. The act is biologically, essentially, summative of the past and oriented toward the future.

This is so, regardless of the feelings of those who engage in it; it is a plain fact. That’s why sins against the marital act are always sins against its time-transcending and life-giving meaning. Unlike the beasts, we human beings do more than suffer time. Time is our inn on the way to eternity. If that sentence sounds too theological, consider—we recall past ages, we memorialize our forefathers, we plant trees whose fruit we ourselves will not gather. For us, then, the meaning of coitus cannot be severed from the permanence of marriage. We cannot say, “You and I will now engage in the act that brings new human life into being, a human life that extends far beyond the present moment, in memory and in hope; but we will treat what we are doing as the act of a moment, and no more, and that will be all right.” That is to engage in a selfish contradiction.

Sex without consequences, indeed. More:

It’s important to keep in mind that the biological meaning of an act remains, even when the instance is ineffectual, because of chance, debility, or human selfishness. John and Sally have been married for ten years and have no children. They never will. Sally caught an infection that destroyed her ovaries. John had an accident that hurt his prostate. Sally has acted to kill John’s seed. John has acted to thwart his seed. Yet whether they understand it or not, they still perform the act of marriage. Children see them, by way of example if not in reality, as a mother and father: causa exemplare, though not causa efficiente. Elderly people who marry fall into the same category. Their marriages are real, and they participate in the act (they do what all the other married men and women are doing) that brings new human beings into the world.

Adam J. Macleod discusses the “ban myth.” In short, there is no ban on unlicensed marriages. Excerpt:

To distinguish in law between marriage and same-sex intimacy is to affirm that same-sex intimacy is something other than marriage. But to redefine marriage to include same-sex intimacy while excluding other relational arrangements—same-sex friendship, opposite-sex friendship, multi-partner unions, business partnerships—is also to discriminate. Yet no one could plausibly claim that the marriage law of a state that recognizes same-sex “marriage” operates as a ban on friendship or business partnerships.

...

Redefinition of marriage by the judiciary would force the companionate conception of marriage on all citizens, including religious observers. There are no exceptions or exemptions from the legal definition of marriage. Indeed, the definition of marriage cannot serve its purposes in positive law unless it is a law of universal application. That is precisely why marriage law is the most efficient mechanism for securing societal approval of same-sex intimacy. As a matter of principle, those who seek such approval cannot tolerate safe harbors for dissenters.


Obamacare alert! Health insurance premiums are set to go up, contrary to the president’s promise. Will he resign, I wonder? He should. His disgrace is hard-earned.

Betsy McCaughey writes in the American Spectator:

From day one, it was obvious the law would push up premiums. That’s because it requires insurers to cover services rarely covered in the past, puts sick people in the same risk pool with the healthy, and slaps insurers with $100 billion in taxes to pass along to consumers.

Who will be clobbered by high premiums? Everyone buying insurance on the exchanges: people who customarily buy their own insurance (about 25 million) plus people currently uninsured who will have to get it beginning in 2014, and finally millions of people whose employers will drop coverage in response to the law’s costly requirements. Milliman predicts, 67 million people in all by 2017.

These people will have no choice but to buy the one-size-fits-all “essential benefits package” that includes treatment for drug addiction, maternity care, and dental and vision care for children. Only 2% of plans currently include all these services. When the law compels insurers to cover more, it compels consumers to pay more. It’s like passing a law that your auto insurance has to cover wiper blades and oil changes, or that the only car you’re allowed to buy is a fully loaded Cadillac. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius says “folks will be moving into a fully insured product for the first time.”

An unaffordable product. The Ohio Department of Insurance says the requirements will push up premiums 20% to 30%. It cheats the couple not having more children and the straight-arrow who will never shoot heroin.

I delved into the smokers side of this story over at the Red Pill Report. Excerpt:

The real poison of socialism is the dissociation of effects, good and bad, from their causes. People who smoke say it’s their own choice and no one else’s. Fine. With choice comes accountability. Under the Obamacare regime, smokers won’t be held accountable for their choice.

P.S.: One day, there will be a meeting of great minds to decide whether it’s spelled “Obamacare” or “ObamaCare.”


Michael Moynihan explains “How 1960s Radicals Ended Up Teaching Your Kids” at the Daily Beast.


This Washington Post article reminds me “Apocalypse fetish.” Excerpt (hat tip Jake Meador):

One could dismiss this proliferation of “The End” as a plea for attention by publishers, magazine editors, authors, bloggers, TED talkers and the rest of the ideas industry — a marketing device signaling little more than the end of imagination.

But it is more than that. “The end of” is also the perfect headline for our age. It fits a moment that fetishizes disruption over stability. It grabs an audience enamored of what is next, not what is here. It suits a public debate in which extreme positions are requisite starting points.

We don’t know what is coming; that’s too hard to discern. All we know is that what we have — old jobs, old ideologies, old phones — is boring, dated, over. Ended.

I suspect these “end of ” doomsayers are really dissatisfied with the self, the center of modern man’s universe, and are projecting that dissatisfaction onto the world.


The Washington Post brushes dangerously close to assigning true blame for the housing boom and bust:

The Obama administration is engaged in a broad push to make more home loans available to people with weaker credit, an effort that officials say will help power the economic recovery but that skeptics say could open the door to the risky lending that caused the housing crash in the first place.

With the same policies, expect the same result.


In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Bill Daley and Roseanna Ander compare drunk driving to gun carrying.

The criminal-justice system needs to recognize that carrying a gun illegally imposes a risk of serious harm to society. In this sense it is a lot like drunk driving, which also used to be subject to "no harm, no foul" sentencing. Drunk driving declined only after tough laws and law enforcement made it a grave crime.

Illegal gun carrying should be treated the same way. The risky behavior itself should be punished; waiting until something terrible happens isn't good enough.

Driving sober is a risky behavior. How many traffic fatalities aren’t caused by drunk drivers? A lot. Wouldn’t it be more apt to compare drunk driving and drunk carrying?

By the way, doesn’t every action entail some risk? It is so presumptuous of government to remove the what-ifs out of life.

I am not surprised by this quote from New York’s Mayor Bloomberg: “Every possession of a gun [is] a potential homicide.” Hey, not everyone’s a homicidal maniac.

And now some sanity on guns from Thomas Sowell:

Surveys of American gun owners have found that 4 to 6 percent reported using a gun in self-defense within the previous five years. That is not a very high percentage but, in a country with 300 million people, that works out to hundreds of thousands of defensive uses of guns per year.

Yet we almost never hear about these hundreds of thousands of defensive uses of guns from the media, which will report the killing of a dozen people endlessly around the clock.

The murder of a dozen innocent people is unquestionably a human tragedy. But that is no excuse for reacting blindly by preventing hundreds of thousands of other people from defending themselves against meeting the same fate.

Although most defensive uses of guns do not involve actually shooting, nevertheless the total number of criminals killed by armed private citizens runs into the thousands per year. A gun can also come in handy if a pit bull or some other dangerous animal is after you or your child.

We need to recognize the painful reality that, regardless of what we do or don't do about gun control laws, there will be innocent people killed by guns. We can then look at hard facts in order to decide how we can minimize the number of needless deaths.


Ever heard of the “garbage flotilla” in the Pacific Ocean, supposedly twice the size of Texas? I’ve been hearing about it for years, and I finally looked it up. It’s sensationalism, if not an outright myth. NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Carey Morishige writes:

While it's true that these areas have a higher concentration of plastic than other parts of the ocean, much of the debris found in these areas are small bits of plastic (microplastics) that are suspended throughout the water column. A comparison I like to use is that the debris is more like flecks of pepper floating throughout a bowl of soup, rather than a skim of fat that accumulates (or sits) on the surface.

So the next time you hear someone decry the 300 million-acre garbage isalnd in the Pacific, you should tell them it’s not a mass of garbage at all, but a diffuse gathering of microscopic debris.


In closing, Larry Thornberry of the American Spectator reacts to Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg starting a Left-wing political action committee. This excerpt is twice hilarious:

The only thing positive I can find in this opera buffa is that at a Thursday press conference announcing his Obamaesque enterprise, which took place on one of the rings of Planet California, Zuckerman conceded to propriety so far as to put on a clean T-shirt. Small comfort.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dreams of deportation

“We're not awarding anybody anything. All we’re doing is giving people the opportunity to eventually earn access to our new, improved, and modernized legal immigration system.” –Marco Rubio

What’s the difference between someone who immigrated illegally to America on December 31, 2011 and someone who immigrated illegally to America on January 1, 2012? The 2011 illegal immigrant isn’t deported; the 2012 illegal immigrant is.

This is the compromise St. Sen. Marco Rubio has worked in the “Gang of 8” negotiations. In exchange for giving 12 million illegal immigrants a “pathway to citizenship,” the federal government will agree to enforce immigration laws that are already on the books.

This is a boon for Democrats, whose actions usually square with their destructive priorities. There’s no better way to ensure the perpetuity of the welfare state than to allow a large segment of its clientele to remain in the country and eventually to give them the right to vote for Democrats.

But Rubio et. al, whose priority is the preservation of the republic, commit boundless fallacies:

1. What reasonable expectation is there the feds will enforce laws they have ignored so far? This is the same government that took Arizona to court for asking people to prove they aren’t in the country illegally.

2. What is so special about January 1, 2012 that turns undeportable illegal immigration to a deportable offense? Who will admit illegally immigrating to America after 2011 when he knows he will be deported?

3. The feds rely on the refrain “you can’t deport 12 million people” to justify their dereliction of duty because 12 million people is a lot of people and deportation is cruel. If these premises are true, how will we enforce the future immigration regime against millions more transgressors in the future? If mass deportation is off the table, what will we do with illegal immigrants who refuse to jump through the pathway to citizenship’s legal hoops? Fine them again? Stuff them into a crowded prison cell for one night?

I get that the problem is many illegal immigrants have families and evade the law for so long that they become ensconced in their communities before they are caught. The appropriate response is not “compassion” (read “no stomach to mete out punishment”), but justice. I say again, justice, of which there is such confusion because the laws and their application are in constant flux.

Further reading: “Rubio Deals with Conservatives: ‘It’s Not Amnesty’” at Newsmax, and “They Lied to us Then About Immigration; They are Lying Now” by Daniel Horowitz at RedState.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dollar sign with a heartbeat

You’ll go a long way before finding a more eloquent expression of liberal youth angst in America:

My name is Keenan Glover, I’m an administration of justice major from Rochester, New York. A freshman, as well. You say you want to provide a government that leaves us alone. Quite frankly, I don’t want that. I want a government that is going to help me. I want a government that will help me fund my college education. I want a government that won’t define me by my FAFSA or by my family’s income. I’m a dollar sign with a heartbeat in this nation. This society is a mirror image of Capitol Hill. Do you, Senator Rand Paul, have a formulated solution to come up with new American values so that the citizens of this nation have a worth of more than dead presidents and Ben Franklin?

Where to begin? I don’t think “the government that governs least governs best” is going to cut it.

For starters, whether Keenan Glover knows it, the question is hypocritical. He says he doesn’t want to be treated like a “dollar sign with a heartbeat.” But that’s exactly how he treats the people whose taxes he wants to fund his overpriced education.

How much “help” is a negative $53,000 inheritance? How many opportunities to acquire the capital necessary to pursue your self-interest will you lose while paying that debt back via confiscatory taxes and/or devaluation of the currency? Is the job market for “administration of justice” degrees so rich that this immense cost is of negligible consequence? I’ll hazard a guess and say no.

We don’t need “new” American values. We need to bring back old American values, the values of faith, vocation, family, and community that built this country up from nothing, that overthrew the tyranny of George III, that ended slavery, that maximize men’s happiness in a thriving civil society.

In the zero-sum world Marxists envision, everything—even human life—is reducible to material value. The Democratic Party has no respect for the sanctity of life. They’re for abortion, euthanasia, and softer sentences for murderers. They’re for weakening marriage, the sacred union that ensures the well-being children. They’re for taking the produce of your labor, taxing the very sweat from your brow, and using it to subsidize the lifestyles of the lazy and wasteful pet projects like “green” energy, and to bail out banks and corporations who profited from abusing the public trust.

There is dignity in work. The harder you work, the more you develop your skills, the greater the value you provide to people, the better you’re able to support yourself and your family. The beauty of the free market is that there is no ceiling as to how much value one person can provide. You get as much out of it as you put in. Big government doesn’t believe in that. Big government believes in centralizing its power over the individual, concentrating it in the hands of the few, either through directly controlling the market via smothering regulations, or forging partnerships with megacorporations that act as de facto government agencies.

Never mind all that. What was Rand Paul’s response to the question?

In America you can live and be a follower of Louis Farrakhan if we leave you alone, and we ought to.

Huh?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sex object

Of course California attorney general Kamala Harris is a sex object. Just look at her. Smooth, unblemished, milk-chocolate skin. Flowing brown locks. Hourglass figure. Don’t forget the black nylons and stiletto heels, less “business-professional” than “look at my long legs.” You’d never guess she’s 48 years old. She could easily pass for 30.

As a lawyer, it helps your chances of winning a case if the judge and jury like you. And men, who comprise about one-half of the population, like pretty women, and will endure just about any line of crap pretty women feed them. I’ve heard Kamala Harris’s line of Leftist crap in various appearances on CNN. The only enjoyable thing about her speaking is watching the parting of her moist lips. Definitely an improvement over her hideous predecessor, current California governor Jerry Brown.

Some might accuse me—or the president—of “sexualizing” Kamala Harris, of belittling her personality and professional and political acumen, as if I had a choice between noticing and not noticing what a babe she is. There is no choice. Biologically, men are programmed to notice attractive women and to pursue them. This is how the sorting process for a mate begins.

Once upon a time, women wisely manipulated this to their long-term advantage. Her demands of stability and fidelity combined with his impulse for sexual congress provided the alchemy for a miraculous change in his sexual character. His urgent lust transformed into enduring love. “There will be a knowledge that to treat this treasure as an object—mere flesh like his own, a mere matrix of his pleasure—is to defile life itself,” writes George Gilder. She ascended above her nubility, above the explicit sexual functions of her body, to equal footing with her husband, a helpmate equal to him, to paraphrase Genesis. When done right, his love sustained her to the end of her life, long after the narrow window in which she wielded sexual authority over men had closed.

The same people who decried the president’s compliment to Kamala Harris deny this natural prescription for the sexes. To them, male flattery is chauvinism that can be ironed out by indoctrination, not a sexual imperative. The marital norm, too, is a figment of the past, a prison to be liberated from. But outside this prison, the “liberated” woman finds herself stuck on an island, surrounded by tall cliffs and buffeted by wind and rain. Buying into the technological myth of sex without consequences, she squanders her sexual capital. She accepts men’s boorish behavior, satisfying his immediate cravings, denying him the kick in the pants he needs to become a responsible husband and father. In her twilight years she is bitter, alone, vulnerable, and regretful, as male contemporaries chase after the freshest crop of unsuspecting beauties.

Case in point: Elizabeth Wurtzel, 44, who senses her time has come and gone:

By never marrying, I ended up never divorcing, but I also failed to accumulate that brocade of civility and padlock of security—kids you do or don’t want, Tiffany silver you never use—that makes life complete. Convention serves a purpose: It gives life meaning, and without it, one is in a constant existential crisis. If you don’t have the imposition of family to remind you of what is at stake, something else will. I was alone in a lonely apartment with only a stalker to show for my accomplishments and my years.

...

Women who have it all should try having nothing: I have no husband, no children, no real estate, no stocks, no bonds, no investments, no 401(k), no CDs, no IRAs, no emergency fund—I don’t even have a savings account. It’s not that I have not planned for the future; I have not planned for the present.

What a shame.

Women have always been sex objects, and always will be sex objects. The difference lately is that feminists, whose premises the culture has imbibed, reject life-sustaining, romantic love, which elevates women to men’s equal and satisfies both their needs. Under this time-tested model, men and women flourish.