Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Odds and ends 11/6/2013

Patrick Deneen summarizes Alexis de Tocqueville’s foresight in the American Conservative:

Once democratic man recognizes his membership in “humanity” at large, he becomes devoted to the improvement of everyone—and no-one in particular. In a democratic age, shorn of all positions and status, a new and nearly universal passion for perfectibility comes to predominate—the improvement of society constantly in the name and belief in the ever-increasing democratic equality of all humanity. Only when the aristocratic order has been displaced, and the individual has been liberated from the old order, can “the human mind imagine the possibility of an ideal but always fugitive perfection.”

The liberation of humanity from all partial and mediating groups and memberships finally culminates in what Tocqueville famously calls “the tutelary State”—the rise of a new form of tyranny, “democratic despotism,” particularly chilling because it comes about not through the imposition of force and violence, but at the invitation of an individuated and weak democratic citizenry. No longer able to turn to the old orders and organizations to which he might once have belonged, “he naturally turns his eyes toward the huge entity which alone stands above the universal level of abasement”—the State—amid his individuated weakness.


Nine amendments to the Texas Constitution were put to the people Tuesday. Here’s how I voted:

  1. AGAINST
  2. FOR
  3. AGAINST
  4. FOR
  5. BLANK
  6. AGAINST
  7. AGAINST
  8. FOR
  9. FOR

All the amendments passed.

Coloradans pondered deeper issues Tuesday, such as whether to tax marijuana and whether to secede. The Hill reports:

The debate over secession is framed in rural vs. urban terms.

Weld County, located on the northern border of Colorado, is by far the most populated county, with more than 250,000 residents, to sign onto the measure.

Most of the other 10 other counties that will vote on the measure hold populations of less than 10,000 residents. Rural voters in Colorado gave Mitt Romney nearly 60 percent of their vote during the 2012 election.

...

Voters statewide will also cast their ballots on a marijuana tax, after Colorado became one of two states to legalize the drug for recreational use.

“Combine that with the state’s marijuana legalization initiative, and voters and activists in the more rural and conservative parts of the state feel like the state government has grown completely alien to them, and they no longer want to be a part of it,” [University of Denver political science professor Seth] Masket said.

If northern Coloradans vote to form their own state, they disown their Colorado citizenship. If they are successful, common sense dictates they not be allowed to vote on matters such as taxing marijuana that affect the state they voted to secede from.

Ironically, if Coloradans reject the marijuana tax, it will nullify the legalization effort. Social libertarians are in the awkward position of supporting a tax on their drugs, something libertarian Charles C. W. Cooke actually favors.

One of the reasons I don’t want a 51st state is because I like the symmetry of an even 50 states. There’s a workaround, however. While conservative enclaves split from liberal states and liberal enclaves split from conservative states, they can combine to form their own states, thereby reducing the necessity of changing the number of stars on the flag. Northern Colorado can join Nebraska and/or Wyoming. Western Maryland can join West Virginia. The District of Columbia (and Northern Virginia) can join Maryland. Puerto Rico can join Florida. Monolithic New England can form a superstate. By the way, it’s not fair that the 15 million people of Yankeeland get 12 senators, while the 27 million people of Texas get only two.


Ross Douthat writes on marijuana and gambling:

Both have been made possible by the same trend in American attitudes: the rise of a live-and-let-live social libertarianism, the weakening influence of both religious conservatism and liberal communitarianism, the growing suspicion of moralism in public policy.

And both, in different ways, illustrate the potential problems facing a culture pervaded by what the late sociologist Robert Bellah called “expressive individualism” and allergic to any restrictions on what individuals choose to do.

This is clearer in the case of casinos, whose consequences for the common good are straightforwardly disastrous. As the Institute for American Values report points out, the alliance of state governments and gambling interests is essentially exploitative, and the tax revenue casinos supply comes at the expense of long-term social welfare. Casinos tend to lower property values and weaken social capital in the places where they’re planted, they’re more likely to extract dollars from distressed communities than to spur economic development, and their presence is a disaster for the reckless and the addiction-prone.

Pot is a more complicated issue, given its essential harmlessness for many users and the crying need to lock up fewer Americans for nonviolent offenses. But one can support decriminalizing marijuana possession, as many states have done, while still doubting the prudence of legalizing (and, of course, taxing) its open manufacture and sale.

Whatever benefits legalization brings with it, it will almost certainly increase marijuana use, which has already risen sharply in the last decade. And as purely recreational as a joint may be for casual tokers, steady use isn’t always so harmless: it can limit educational attainment, and with it economic mobility, to an extent that mirrors the impact of growing up in a single-parent home.

I don’t recall the freedom to get stoned was anywhere in the Constitution. Don’t miss this insightful line:

Perhaps these costs are just the price we pay for liberty, in the same way that certain social liberals and libertarians regard the costs of family breakdown as a price worth paying for emancipation from sexual repression.

“Repression” is the birds and the bees. “Repression” is action and equal and opposite reaction. Lacking the ability to willfully destroy women’s ability to conceive was the norm for thousands of years.


Gay discrimination bill moves forward in the Senate, the Washington Post reports. Nihilists celebrate. No one mentions sexuality is mutable and not a fixed trait. “Discriminating” against foul behavior is not comparable to discriminating against skin pigment.

Most opponents, including Boehner, have focused their concerns on allegations that the legislation would benefit trial lawyers and have shied away from the morality and family-values questions that once dominated the issue.

“There’s been a softer tone, and there’s been a recognition that anti-gay politics that may have worked in 2000 and in 2004 don’t work anymore,” said Jeff Cook-McCormac, senior adviser to the American Unity Fund, a pro-gay-rights group funded by Republican mega-donors.

Substitute “Republican mega-donors” with “social liberals.”


The problem isn’t that Ken Cuccinelli is a social conservative, it’s that he’s a strident social conservative, David Brooks says. Strident how? Strident in the narrative the wicked Terry McAuliffe painted. So it’s not Cuccinelli’s stridency that burned him, but the false perception of stridency. Brooks suggests countering this by “toning down” a nonexistent policy assault on abortion “rights.”

There is no better modern example of gratuitous hatred than women and their male enablers who claim the gendered right to youth cleansing. Virginians deserve what they get.


“To hell with the middle,” Brent Bozell says. Yes, insofar as sycophantic appeals for their votes go. The “middle” are just liberals who are ashamed of the title.


Socialist Stuart Chase is credited with saying: “Common sense is that which tells us the world is flat.” This claim, if true, would bolster critiques of whatever claims “common sense” made in Chase’s day. But it isn’t true. Ships, the farther they sail away, sink further below the horizon, suggesting a convex—not a flat—surface of the world. Common sense says the world is curved. Common sense also says a centralized state economy will not be as prosperous, liberating, or fair as a free economy.


Texas women support Texas’ 20-week abortion ban 59-30. Wendy Davis doesn’t represent Texas women. Daniel Kuebler writes in Public Discourse:

It turns out that women are much more supportive of the fictitious “war on women” than men. This seems counterintuitive, at least to those immersed in radical feminist politics. However, when one considers how abortion on demand alters the fundamental sexual dynamics between men and women, it starts to make sense.

As Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker explain in Premarital Sex in America, the cost of sex in modern America is rather low. For women, in particular, changes in sexual expectations, widespread use of the pill, and abortion on demand all have reduced the cost of sex significantly. There is little social stigma associated with women who are sexually active and/or have multiple sex partners, and the risk of pregnancy and childbirth has been mitigated by both the pill and easy access to abortions. The cost to women now looks very similar to the cost to men, and, as a result, the young women of today are nearly as sexually active as the young men.

While feminists champion this leveling of the sexual playing field, the altered sexual calculus has actually placed women at a significant disadvantage. If women are more willing to engage in sexual activity, men are more than willing to play along—but they are likely to provide very little in return.

No-strings-attached sexual encounters have become the norm for young adults on college campuses, while dating and long-term commitment continue to fall by the wayside. Whom does this benefit?

As more sexually active women enter the marketplace, it is the young men that seem to be reaping the benefits, not women. For example, Regnerus and Uecker found that on college campuses in which women outnumber men (meaning there are more sexually active women in the marketplace), the women had a more negative view of the men on campus, they went on fewer dates, and received less commitment in return for sexual relations. What was meant to be the triumphant sexual liberation of women has turned college campuses into something that resembles a frat boy’s fantasy world. It is a world that leaves women isolated and lonely.

I laid it all out here.

Don’t this miss priceless nugget from Kuebler:

While the abortion issue is often cloaked in terms of choice, many women feel that their ability to choose actually has been taken away. Not by pro-lifers, but by men who abandoned them in their time of need or who emotionally or physically manipulated them into procuring an abortion. And for the men who choose manipulation, it is only a small step from coercion to outright deception and force. The recent Florida case in which a man deceived his girlfriend into taking a drug that induced a chemical abortion is a case in point. But if a woman can choose to abort her child, why can’t the father? That is exactly where the pro-choice mantra has led us.

“Remember, before the Affordable Care Act, these bad-apple insurers had free rein every single year to limit the care that you received, or used minor pre-existing conditions to jack up your premiums, or bill you into bankruptcy.” –President Obama

Lies. Only monopolies (created by government regulation and centralization) do whatever they want without fear of losing their customers. Competition in the free market and a fair justice system ensure “bad-apple insurers” don’t do what the President accuses them of doing.

“The genius Ivy League technocrats that a formerly self-governing citizenry apparently prefer to be ruled by have bet they can get away with wrecking the lives of millions of Americans whose only mistake was to make prudent and sensible arrangements for their own health-care needs.” –Mark Steyn

A conversation between Rep. Renee Ellmers and Kathleen Sebelius:

[Ellmers:] “And that is why health care premiums are increasing, because we are forcing them to buy things that they will never need. Thank you.”

[Sebelius:] “The individual policies cover families. Men often do need maternity care for their spouses and for their families, yes.”

“A single male, aged 32, does need maternity coverage. To the best of your knowledge, has a man ever delivered a baby?”

One size doesn’t fit all.

A wordsmithing (read lying) Jay Carney leaves glaring contradictions unresolved. Redaction in bold:

As the law says and as the president made clear in the statements that you cite, if you had insurance coverage on the individual market when the Affordable Care Act was passed into law and you liked that plan and you wanted to stay on it even though it didn’t meet the minimum standards that the Affordable Care Act would bring into place on January 1, 2014, you can keep that coverage. You’re grandfathered in.

In other words, “bad” insurance plans before March 2010 are permissible, but “bad” insurance plans after March 2010 are subject to the wonderful ministrations of Obamacare.

Since hardly anyone stays at the same company with the same health insurance his whole life, eventually everyone will succumb to Obamacare.

Kimberly Strassel writes in the Wall Street Journal:

Jeanne Shaheen doesn’t sound like a Democrat who just won a government-shutdown “victory.” Ms. Shaheen sounds like a Democrat who thinks she’s going to lose her job.

The New Hampshire senator fundamentally altered the health-care fight on Tuesday with a letter to the White House demanding it both extend the ObamaCare enrollment deadline and waive tax penalties for those unable to enroll. Within nanoseconds, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor had endorsed her “common-sense idea.” By Wednesday night, five Senate Democrats were on board, pushing for ... what’s that dirty GOP word? Oh, right. “Delay.”

After 16 long days of vowing to Republicans that they would not cave in any way, shape or form on ObamaCare, Democrats spent their first post-shutdown week caving in every way, shape and form.

How pathetic that Democratic senators who failed to do their jobs in 2010 when they passed Obamacare without reading it, and continue to fail to do their jobs in 2013 as Obamacare accrues victims, cede their legislative authority to a tyrant in a play for political cover so they can continue to fail to do their jobs in 2015 and beyond.

William Murchison turns his razor-like pen on planners:

A certain kind of personality, as I have hinted, believes with fervency in the uncanny ability of “experts” to prescribe and control economic inputs and outputs. The Harvard faculty is conspicuously of that kidney. Prof. Rogoff mentions 6 percent inflation as if he knew with certainty precisely the right dosage and precisely the right length of time to administer it. This is the fantasy of the centralist, the administrative-state acolyte who is confident always that knowledge and insight count for more than the whirl and tumult of the marketplace.

There have always been such people. There always will be. The trick is to keep them in their place by ignoring them, by insisting on the historic truth that choice in the free marketplace always delivers better results than direction from above. How would we know this? Well, from reading history. Or from looking around.


Ramesh Ponnuru and Rich Lowry speak for the GOP loser caucus in National Review:

The defunders often said that those who predicted their failure were “defeatists.” Yet it is they who have given in to despair. They are the ones who entertain the ideas that everything has gotten worse; that the last few decades of conservative thought and action have been for nothing; that engagement in politics as traditionally conceived is hopeless; that government programs, once begun, must corrupt the citizenry so that they can never be ended or reformed; that the country will soon be past the point of regeneration, if it is not there already.

This is not giving in to despair, but giving in to reality. In the universe I live in, Democrats scare the living daylights out of seniors by slandering Republican efforts to reform their unsustainable government benefits. People corrupted by addictive dependency cannot be relied upon to strive or sacrifice for the national interest.


Patrick Ryan of the American Spectator explains how pedophilia will be tolerated:

Modern Western society views the expression of sexuality as a primary component of human identity. As each autonomous individual can form his own happiness and welfare, sex is an essential component of human flourishing.

As sex leads to the creation of life, it is indeed an essential human act. Yet the West is currently trying to isolate sex as a pleasurable, inconsequential form of recreation. The paradox rests in the very fact that it becomes banal, while also life-affirming and essential to our identities.

Speaking of deviancy, CNN reports:

As the concept of open relationships rises in pop culture and political debates, some polyamorous families like the Holders and Mullins see an opportunity to go public and fight stereotypes that polyamory is just swinging, cheating or kinky sex.

It’s not just a fling or a phase for them. It’s an identity. They want to show that polyamory can be a viable alternative to monogamy, even for middle-class, suburban families with children, jobs and house notes. (emphasis mine)

“Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness?” No, no. License, Entitlement, and the pursuit of Identity.


Russell Moore on evangelism:

Without speaking to the conscience, and addressing what the sinner already knows to be true about the day of giving an account, there is not love, only the consigning of the guilty conscience to accusation and condemnation. If the church is right about the personhood of unborn children (and I think it is), then why would we not be “obsessed” about speaking for them, and for the women and men whose consciences are tyrannized by their past sins?

It is not good news to say to such consciences, “Well, we’re all brothers and sisters,” if what they feel in their psyches and read in their Bibles (and in their Catholic catechisms) is that those who commit such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. We must speak with tenderness and gentleness, but with an authoritative word from God, that there is a means of reconciliation. The burdened conscience doesn’t wish to hear “It’s all okay.” The burdened conscience is freed by “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ” (Rom. 8:1).


“By supporting H.R. 15 I am strengthening my message: Addressing immigration reform in the House cannot wait. I am serious about making real progress and will remain committed to doing whatever it takes to repair our broken immigration system.” –Rep. David Valadao

“Doing whatever it takes,” or doing whatever?


I started reading C. S. Lovett’s book Dealing with the Devil after I wrote the allegory of the cobra. I was floored to find this description of the devil in the first chapter:

He was enamored with his own beauty, impressed with his wisdom, and exalted by the importance of his job. Though a created being, he deluded himself into thinking he could be “like the Most High.” The blinding power of self-affection is manifested when a created being thinks to replace his creator.

You would think I had written “Snakebitten” with this quote in mind, but I wasn’t aware of it until 3 days later! It gratifies me to no end to later discover the themes of my writing reflected in others’ work.


I did it first.


“Nine out of 10 writers, in my imaginary but plausible statistic, will tell you that the best thing about writing is ‘having written,’ which is politesse for being done with it so the little bugger isn’t gnawing at your brain anymore.” –Jeremy Lott

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