Sunday, July 14, 2013

Odds and ends 7/14/2013

Humanists like to think they have a rational view of the world; but their core belief in progress is a superstition, further from the truth about the human animal than any of the world’s religions. –John Gray, Straw Dogs

Logic at the Atlantic: “Men and Women Often Expect Different Things When They Move In Together: A new study suggests that men are more likely than women to be not ‘completely committed’ to their partners.” Excerpt:

At 33, my friend (I’ll call her Shannon) had little to show for her five-year relationship with her live-in boyfriend. No ring. No baby. No future. So she finally decided to break up with him.

Back when Shannon and her (younger) boyfriend moved in together, things had looked a lot brighter. They shared a love of indie music and the Charlottesville arts scene. She thought they both wanted a future together. But over time, her boyfriend turned aside her queries about their shared future—queries that started off subtle and became more explicit as the years passed by. Finally, when she turned 33, Shannon told him she wanted a wedding date, to which he responded that he was not ready for marriage.

Shannon’s experience with a live-in boyfriend with commitment issues, it seems, is not all that unusual. According to a new paper from RAND by sociologists Michael Pollard and Kathleen Mullan Harris, cohabiting young adults have significantly lower levels of commitment than their married peers. This aversion to commitment is particularly prevalent among young men who live with their partners.

All the benefits of marriage without the lifelong commitment is a sweet deal for short-horizon men. I wonder how many people will read this and fail to follow it to its logical conclusion?

Between becoming a church regular last November and being baptized July 7, everyone understood I was working towards committing my life to Jesus. If an elder told me I could be saved without making that commitment, I probably would never have made it.

The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto observes:

If it were 50 years earlier and “living in sin” were still frowned upon, Shannon would have had the leverage to insist on marriage much earlier—or, if the boyfriend proved unwilling, the impetus to move on. The option of cohabitation tends to give men the upper hand in relationships. Even though it was Shannon who dumped her boyfriend, he manifestly had the stronger position.

That “living in sin” is no longer frowned on is evidence of a cultural recession. This CNBC story hits familiar notes:

The [birthrate] drop comes amid a longer term trend toward women having their children later in life. The average age for a woman having her first child was 25.6 years old in 2011, up from 21.4 years old in 1970, according to the CDC.

It also has coincided with an excruciatingly long period of high unemployment and weak economic growth.

Economists say the slump has meant that some people in their 20s are getting a slower start on landing a career-track job, or a job at all. That can have a lifelong impact on earnings, and it also can also mean that it takes longer to feel financially ready for other big steps, such as buying a house, getting married and having children.


Helen Alvaré despairs:

Defenders of human life, religious freedom, and children’s interests in marriage should excuse themselves these days for sputtering—for having literally no words to offer in response to recent events. It appears words are currently useless. All the words we would ordinarily reach for are taken, and have suddenly been redefined.

I sounded a similar note at the Red Pill Report a few weeks ago:

We have the numbers. We have the arguments. We more or less accurately perceive the world as it was made and as it was meant to be lived in.

It matters little. The enemy does not give us the time of day. We cannot penetrate the sweet-sounding music with which he plugs the ears of so many. His melody goes: “There is no limit to your knowledge. You are the author of yourselves. Impose your designs on the world. Remake it in your image.”

Linus commented on that piece:

On the facade of the courthouse in Richmond, Missouri, is this inscription: “Obedience to law is liberty.” Lefties are deceived into believing that liberty is achieved by an egotistical defiance of Nature’s laws and of Nature’s God. It cannot be done with impunity! Such defiance will lead to society’s misery, captivity and demise.

Staying in that theme, on July 3 at church we sang all 8 verses of “America the Beautiful.” I had never heard the second verse before then, but now it’s my favorite of the eight:

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

George Weigel writes a beautiful review of Pope Francis’s frist encyclical, Lumen Fidei. This article is a MUST READ. I’ll try not to quote too much from it. The extended italics are from the encyclical.

Lumen Fidei is an extended meditation on the truth that Walker Percy articulated decades ago: that life lived within the ambit of faith in the God of the Bible — the God of Israel and the God of the Church — is far richer, far more intriguing, and much more authentically human than any of the agnostic, atheistic, pantheistic, or solipsistic alternatives available in the early 21st century.

Faith, the encyclical teaches, is a divine gift; it is not something we achieve by our own efforts. Yet unlike the siren songs of the imperial autonomous Self, which lure us into the sandbox of self-absorption where the horizon of our apprehension rarely extends beyond the navel, the grateful reception of this supernatural virtue sets everything alight: “Those who believe, see,” Francis writes; “they see with a light that illumines their entire journey...”

This light, Bergoglio and Ratzinger note, has grown dimmer in our time. Post-modern humanity has convinced itself that faith is “incompatible with seeking,” with courage in the face of uncertainty — thus the profoundly influential Nietzschean critique of Christianity as “diminishing the full meaning of human existence and stripping life of novelty and adventure.” Determined to assert autonomy and what was understood to be maturity, Nietzschean humanity tried various antidotes to what were imagined to be the crippling effects of faith in the God of the Bible. The most common was the effort to separate faith from reason: Athens trying to make sense of life without the aid of Jerusalem. But that eventually came a cropper, the encyclical suggests:

Slowly but surely...it [became] evident that the light of autonomous reason is not enough to illumine the future; ultimately the future remains shadowy and fraught with fear of the unknown. As a result, humanity renounced the search for a great light, Truth itself, in order to be content with smaller lights which illumine the fleeting moment yet prove incapable of showing the way. Yet in the absence of light, everything becomes confused; it is impossible to tell good from evil, or the road to our destination from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere.

...

Radical skepticism honed by an ironic sense of life constricts the horizon of human vision and aspiration. We can see only so far through lenses ground by cynicism; and if we view our life through them, our line of sight is sooner or later bent back toward the autonomous Self, in what becomes a wilderness of mirrors. Biblical faith, by contrast, opens up “vast horizons” that suggest a superabundance of life and meaning. Biblical faith satisfies the yearning that led the ancient world to worship Sol Invictus, the sun god; but the sun’s light, however bright, “cannot penetrate to the shadow of death, the place where men’s eyes are closed to the light.”

...

Idols, as the story of the golden calf in Exodus reminds us, are gods we can control because we fashion them in our own image and likeness; those idols, as Psalm 115 teaches, “have mouths, but they cannot speak.” And in the West of a.d. 2013, it seems difficult to deny (although many are in denial) where all this leads:

Once man has lost the fundamental orientation which unifies his existence, he breaks down into the multiplicity of his desires; in refusing to await the time of promise, his life-story disintegrates into a myriad of unconnected instants. Idolatry, then, is always polytheism, an aimless passing from one lord to another. Idolatry does not offer a journey but rather a plethora of paths leading nowhere and forming a vast labyrinth.


Michael Sean Winters writes in Religion & Politics about Pope Francis’ critique of capitalism:

The new pope’s critique of the current world economy has left conservative Catholic commentators in something of a bind. For years, they have denounced “cafeteria Catholics” on the left, those who differ with the Church on issues such as same-sex marriage or abortion rights. Now, it is these conservatives who need to either change their public policy positions or stand in the cafeteria line. “Before, Catholic economic conservatives like George Weigel and Robert Sirico could pretend that Vatican apparatchiks were smuggling traditional anti-capitalist language into papal pronouncements,” says Trinity College’s Mark Silk, who serves on the editorial board of Religion & Politics. “But no one can doubt that this language comes straight from Pope Francis’ heart. That’s what’s freaking the conservatives out.”

I am not freaking out. We are a people with an economy, not an economy with a people. Just as we are a people with a government, not a government with a people.

While it is true that Papa Francesco does not subscribe to certain varieties of liberation theology, he is also not likely to be found at a Tea Party rally, reading Ayn Rand, or otherwise evidencing much sympathy for the anti-government, pro-capitalist positions common among Catholic conservatives in the U.S.

The tea party protests big government statism, which, whether people who identify with the tea party know it or not, is consistent with the Catholic doctrine of subsidiarity. Tea party hosannas to Ayn Rand and her seminal work Atlas Shrugged don’t often include praise of the protagonists’ atheism, coldness to others, and empty personal lives. Conservatives love Rand for her accurate depiction of whom Thomas Sowell calls the “anointed,” the planners who presume to reauthor man and his driving instincts. I’ve laid this all out in “Failure is the only option” and “Welfare state vs civil society.”

Pope Francis as cardinal drafted a document in 2007 that reads in part:

When science and technology are placed solely at the service of the market and profitability and what is functional are the sole criterion of effectiveness, they create a new vision of reality. Thus, through the use of the mass media, an esthetic sense, a vision of happiness, a perception of relationship and even a language have been making inroads, and the aim is that it be imposed as an authentic culture. The result is the destruction of what is truly human in the processes of cultural construction that emerge from personal and collective exchange.

I honestly don’t know what the tension is between full-spectrum conservatives and Pope Francis, other than a misunderstanding on the part of some conservatives who read socialism into the Pope’s commands to love your fellow man and give charity to the poor. In order to keep big government out of our lives, we must be individually willing to take on the responsibility of sustaining our communities.

Speaking of reauthoring man, Francis Beckwith delves deep into the lyrical apotheosis of this Leftist fantasy:

The late John Lennon implied in this famous tune that utopia requires the absence of real human differences and firm convictions, as if the communities, beliefs, and civil societies that arise from a free people are the enemy rather than the fruit of peace. Lennon imagined a world in which nothing was worth dying for (and thus not worth living for), that the afterlife offered no hope (“above us only sky”), that a man may not own what is rightly his (“no possessions”), and that life’s meaning is forever severed from a transcendent source (“no religion too”).

Unsurprisingly, Lennon’s cultural children, who now occupy the seats of power in virtually all our public institutions, view any opposition to their flower-child idealism as by its very nature inconsistent with the “good society,” even if such opposition is a consequence of a free people exercising their rightful powers as citizens. Thus, they do not view their visceral hostility to contrary voices as a prologue to tyranny, but rather, as a legitimate reaction to those who propagate “injustice.” Consequently, given human nature, and the diversity of social, intellectual, and religious paths that arise from a free people committed to ordered liberty, the world of “Imagine” can only be achieved by suppressing the opposition.



This is depressing not for the scumbags who assaulted the preachers, but for all the punks who cheered them on.


At the American Conservative, Jonathan Coppage explains much better than me the danger of regulating rural American business. Again, the extended italics are excerpts from a New York Times article.

Why, then, is this anything other than a tale straight out of Dickens, or Upton Sinclair? How could this story be anything other than muckraking of the finest order, revealing the wanton disregard displayed by a company for the health of the vulnerable workers it employs in a hard-hit region? Because of Dr. Ben Wofford, of Newton, NC:

Reluctantly, he wrote a letter in 2005 alerting OSHA about problems at Royale. One worker was in especially bad shape, he wrote: “Indeed he may die as a result of his exposure.”

But Dr. Wofford also urged OSHA not to overreact. “I would hate to see this plant’s multiple shortcomings result in its being shut down,” he wrote, warning of jobs that could be lost. “Many are my patients and are already in dire straits economically.”

This was not an idle, theoretical consideration, derived from a “pro-growth” platform, embodied in the classic Washington whitepaper. The Times describes how the doctor came to his cautious, concerned position:

Royale workers became regular visitors at local health clinics, including the Clinic for People Without Health Insurance, then run by Dr. Ben Wofford. Looking like “upright cadavers,” Dr. Wofford said, cushion workers arrived unable to stand on their own, supported under their arms by family members. They had showered and changed out of their work clothes, he said, but their breath still carried an odor he remembered from his boyhood days putting together model airplanes.

He had watched for years as his patients’ suffering worsened with the bottoming out of the state’s tobacco, textile and furniture industries. When people are out of work, he explained in an interview in his office above the pharmacy in Newton, N.C., a diabetic ulcer that would normally cost a toe takes a leg. Their nonfatal hernia bleeds them to death.

“You kill jobs,” Dr. Wofford said, “you kill patients.”

The issues of regulation, safety, health, well-being, are all enmeshed in a fabric of struggle amidst tightly limited resources.


In high school, I used to watch Bill O’Reilly from beginning to end. In the last 5 years, I’ve watched maybe two full segments. What turned me off were his attacks on “speculators” during the 2008 oil spike. Thinking people know prohibitive environmental regulations and the de facto moratorium on new refineries have led to consistently high oil prices. What are “speculators” but working people who sometimes earn money and sometimes lose money in trading oil futures? Anyone telling me otherwise is not worth my time. Well, I’m sorry to see O’Reilly hasn’t lost his touch:

O’Reilly also criticized another email from a viewer called Jim, who suggested that immigration reform would not be needed if the federal government would enforce the laws already on the books.

“So that means federal agents will begin forcibly rounding up millions of illegal people, entering their homes and removing men, women and children, taking them to holding pens where they will be awaiting deportation. Is that your vision, Jim? Because that’s what enforcing existing laws would mean,” O'Reilly said.

Why not just scrub all threat of deportation out of the law, then, if deportation is so terrible? More here.


George Will sums up Egypt:

It is difficult to welcome a military overthrow of democratic results. It is, however, more difficult to regret a prophylactic coup against the exploitation of democratic success to adopt measures inimical to the development of a democratic culture.

Tyranny comes in many flavors. Some are much worse than others because they are more comprehensive and potentially durable. The tyranny portended by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood promised no separation of politics and religion, hence the impossibility of pluralism, and a hostility to modernity that guaranteed economic incompetence. Theologized politics, wherein compromise is apostasy, points toward George Orwell’s vision of totalitarianism — “a boot stamping on a human face — forever.”


Krugman’s inconsistency (hat tip Taranto):

“Public policy designed to help workers who lose their jobs can lead to structural unemployment as an unintended side effect...In other countries, particularly in Europe, benefits are more generous and last longer. The drawback to this generosity is that it reduces a worker’s incentive to quickly find a new job. Generous unemployment benefits in some European countries are widely believed to be one of the main causes of ‘Eurosclerosis,’ the persistent high unemployment that affects a number of European countries.” –former Enron adviser Paul Krugman and Robin Wells (Mrs. Krugman), “Introduction to Macroeconomics,” second edition, 2009
“In general, modern conservatives believe that our national character is being sapped by social programs that, in the memorable words of Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, ‘turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.’ More specifically, they believe that unemployment insurance encourages jobless workers to stay unemployed, rather than taking available jobs...The move to slash unemployment benefits...is counterproductive as well as cruel; it will swell the ranks of the unemployed even as it makes their lives ever more miserable.” –Krugman, New York Times, July 1, 2013

Hey, it pays well.


Eric Holder called us a “nation of cowards.” President Obama said if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin. These men are not sincere racial healers. They are Leftists for whom race is a proxy for class. It does not serve their interests to stave off race riots in the event of George Zimmerman’s acquittal. Nevertheless, that’s what Arnold S. Trebach demands of them in the American Spectator:

The harmful behavior of our national leaders is historic in a negative sense and thankfully rare. The actions those leaders should now take must meet the terrible challenge of the situation they have had such a heavy hand in creating. These actions will take guts and courage on their part because they would involve doing something that is completely out of character up to now for them.

Remember when the Miami Heat honored Trayvon Martin by releasing a photo of the team in hoodies? The team said in a statement: “We support our players and join them in hoping that their images and our logo can be part of the national dialogue and can help in our nation’s healing.”

What would the nation need to heal from, other than non-blacks’ collective racism against blacks that got a young black boy killed? I take offense that this incident has anything to do with me, and that I am thrust into a “dialogue” that implicates me in murder.

Recall this happened between the incident and the time Zimmerman was charged, adding momentum to the lynch mob that resulted in the sham prosecution of Zimmerman.


Like me, Marco Belinelli is 27 years old and knows what he wants. The similarities end there. He just signed with the San Antonio Spurs. Via Project Spurs:

Instead of optimizing his financial potential, and taking a larger contract, he willingly took a sizable pay cut (Belinelli reportedly received larger offers from a few non-playoff teams, but elected to take a paycut of approximately two million per year) in order to be apart [sic] of a championship contender. But it was’t until last season, on a Bulls team without point guard Derrick Rose, that Belinelli knew his future career path.

It’s beautiful to witness people discovering what they want from life and changing themselves to pursue it.

For his part, Belinelli says:

My career in the NBA until now has always been a bet at myself. Step by step I grew up, until I got to Chicago. Last season was crucial for me to finally understand what I want. I want to play with the best and win.

Word.


“Print this!” Bernanke doesn’t say (hat tip Bloomberg):

The overall message is accommodation. There is some prospective, gradual and possible change in the mix of instruments, but that shouldn’t be confused with the overall thrust of policy which is highly accommodative.

What’s the matter, Ben? Afraid people took your commitment to end quantitative easing too seriously? I guess we’ll have to wait a little longer to pay the piper.


On his June 6 radio show, Mark Levin read from his book Liberty and Tyranny:

Like the Founders, the Conservative also recognizes in society a harmony of interests, as Adam Smith put it, and rules of cooperation that have developed through generations of human experience and collective reasoning that promote the betterment of the individual and society.

...

In the civil society, the individual is recognized and accepted as more than an abstract statistic or faceless member of some group; rather, he is a unique, spiritual being with a soul and a conscience. He is free to discover his own potential and pursue his own legitimate interests, tempered, however, by a moral order that has its foundation in faith and guides his life and all human life through the prudent exercise of judgment.

He added this:

The next time you hear some conservative or liberal tell you that the social issues don’t matter, that values don’t matter, that moral issues don’t matter—“just focus on the fiscal issues”—well, that’s not a conservative or a libertarian. That’s a very confused person looking for shortcuts.

Two women soldiers based at Fort Sam here in San Antonio posted a revealing photo of themselves on Instagram. If you recall, Lackland Air Force Base, also in San Antonio, is ground zero for the military sexual assaults scandal. There’s a connection there somewhere, I’m just not sure what it is. Maybe it just reinforces the cultural critique I made here that:

   Men
+ Women
+ Heavily regimented workplace
+ Sexually overstoked culture
= High rate of sexual contact, wanted and unwanted

At the American Spectator, Peter Ferrara notes that President Obama is breaking the law named after him:

The Obama Administration announced, through a Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, that contrary to federal law, the employer mandate of Obamacare shall not become fully effective in months beginning after December 31, 2013, but only in months beginning after December 31, 2014. Making the announcement through such a low level Administration official to me says that Obama has contempt for the American people, and for the rule of law.

This is what happens when you’re addicted to governing by discretion, relying on the judgment of bureaucratic “experts,” rather than by the law. Then again, if you’re Obama, you need the employer mandate start date enshrined in law to protect it from possible future Republican administrations.

Should this baldly unconstitutional act be challenged in the courts, I’d like to see it go straight to the Supreme Court, so we can hear the traitor Chief Justice John Roberts’s ruling on the matter. Will he defend his beloved Obamacare from Obama? Or will he see administrative leeway in establishing the employer mandate where there is none, as he saw a tax where there is none?


Delayed DOMA decision reaction from Spencer Amaral:

For all of Kennedy’s rhetoric about federalism (“By history and tradition the definition and regulation of marriage has been treated as being within the authority and realm of the separate States.”), his argument ultimately undermines itself. The ruling argues that traditional marriage laws “humiliate” gays and deem their marriages “less worthy.” Kennedy writes in his opinion, “DOMA violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government.” Since due process and equal protection requirements also apply to the states, how are state laws defending traditional marriage not guilty of the same?

Patrick Deneen:

Future historians will marvel that a small, well-organized, and wealthy segment of the population was able successfully to deploy the language of civil rights in order materially to gain a raft of benefits that would solidify their economic status and position. Often disproportionately in key positions in the elite cultural, business, educational, and media organizations of advanced knowledge-based capitalist societies, this small but wealthy interest group successfully laid the groundwork for a suit that in reaching the Supreme Court set a clear path to national legal recognition and a host of federal, state, and private-sector benefits. Largely unmentioned today—but perhaps of interest to future historians—were suggestions that homosexuals, especially lesbians, enjoy economic advantages largely because they don’t have children, which could inhibit their economic progress and success.

Ironically, then, public benefits, supported by national taxation—ones initially enacted in order to benefit families in which raising children was the norm—became increasingly available to an economically powerful and culturally influential group whose advantaged position was in part attained by widespread childlessness.


Famous self-alleged gay athlete Jason Collins’ female ex-fiancĂ© speaks out in Cosmo. I feel for her, but she evades the burning questions about her 8-year relationship with Collins. Did they have sex? If so, Collins is a bisexual and, worse, a liar. I only ask because Collins has made it our business to know these things. In all the glamorous reporting on Collins’s sexual identity, I’ve yet to see evidence that rules out heterosexuality, bisexuality, bestiality, or even virginity.


It took me a minute to realize that Taranto is serious:

Even Satanists are protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion, but that doesn’t give them the right to impose their faith on the rest of us.

...

Imagine a pro-Israel rally met by a counterprotest of Arab Muslims in which the counterdemonstrators shout “Allahu akbar!” Would it be charitable to characterize them as mocking the Jews rather than sincerely expressing their own faith?

Muslims by definition worship Allah. Does pro-choice by definition worship Satan?


“The underlying problem with this humanist impulse is that it is based upon an entirely false view of human nature—which, contrary to the humanist insistence that it is malleable, is immutable and impervious to environmental forces. Indeed, it is the only constant in politics and history.

“Humanists believe that humanity improves along with the growth of knowledge, but the belief that the increase of knowledge goes with advances in civilization is an act of faith. They see the realization of human potential as the goal of history, when rational inquiry shows history to have no goal. They exalt nature, while insisting that humankind—an accident of nature—can overcome the natural limits that shape the lives of other animals. Plainly absurd, this nonsense gives meaning to the lives of people who believe they have left all myths behind.” –Robert W. Merry

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