Friday, December 6, 2013

Odds and ends 12/6/2013

We’re serving up a postfeminist special here at Odds and ends. And by “special” I mean “horrible.” Let’s get started.

Susan Dench explains the real “war on women” in the Bangor Daily News:

Before the sexual revolution, the woman was put on a pedestal, and both sexes expected the man to court her, woo her, fight for her hand, solicit her hard-won affection. Oh, of course there was premarital sex, but it wasn’t as prevalent, and if a girl got pregnant the guy was expected to marry her.

Today, men and women can both sleep around with little consequence—at least looking at things from an emotional distance. If she is on the pill and it fails, there is always an abortion (which is the greatest war against women, if we figure 50 percent of babies aborted are girls and if a baby is aborted for sex selection, it will almost always be a female). Of course, feminists have told us that we women hold all the cards, and we have the “choice,” so one of two things happens to the father: Either his responsibility is eliminated or, if he wants the baby, the heck with what the father wants.

Talk about irony: Men have taken advantage of casual sex on demand and ended up with even more power as they asked themselves, “Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?” and wriggled out of monogamous dating, commitment, marriage and responsibility. Women are left without an emotionally engaged long-term partner and asking themselves in slack-jawed disbelief, “What happened?”

Poor Gen Y. The whole dating thing has got to be confusing for both sides. A New York Times article asserted, “Instead of dinner-and-a-movie, which seems as obsolete as a rotary phone, they rendezvous over phone texts, Facebook posts, instant messages and other ‘non-dates’ that are leaving a generation confused about how to land a boyfriend or girlfriend.” Meeting up at the last minute is typical (no thrill of anticipation there), as is “hooking up,” which entails no-commitment sex. Hey, who cares about the consequences? If it feels good, do it.

By advocating “sexual empowerment,” feminists have sold yet another bill of goods to women, telling them to enjoy a carefree, commitment-free sexual lifestyle which actually results in the denigration of women. Now the men get that, while women are left desperately longing for more.

“Vox” at Alpha Game muses on Japan’s fertility problem:

As women achieve a higher level of education, their hypergamy cause them to increasingly focus on a dwindling pool of men with whom they are also competing. Those who cannot score an Alpha or a Beta tend to elect to remain single and devote themselves to their careers rather than settle for a Delta or Gamma as their mothers and grandmothers did. In reaction to their disdain, the lesser men are not only less attractive to these educated women, they are also less attracted to them as they learn there is no possibility of satisfying relationships with them.

Why is the problem more distinct in Japan than in the USA, where even more women are highly educated? Because Japan is a more rigidly traditional society and its people are less willing to embrace an equality paradigm that has already failed in the West.

Regarding the enmity between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, counter to male tennis stars’ off-court buddiness, Vox writes:

To take everything personally, from a sporting defeat to a minor accident, is to be fundamentally unmasculine. The fact that the interests of others often run contrary to our own does not mean that they have anything to do with us personally. Don’t be afraid to apologize or to accept apologies. Learn to leave the spirit of opposition on the playing field and save your wrath for the wicked, for those whose enmity is specific and personal and temporally unlimited.

It’s not a surprise that the female boxer did not touch gloves after being defeated. She has no male honor and everything is personal for her. The match may be over, but you can be sure that she still sees the man with whom she was boxing as her opponent. In fact, she probably sees many men with whom she has never boxed and never will box as her opponents.

Rather than being a lesson on male sexual nature, Greg Hampikian’s tongue-in-cheek New York Times article ends on a note of ambivalence about the sexual purpose of men. Read the silly comment left by one reader:

When I decided to have a child with anonymous donor sperm, several men I knew were disturbed that it could be done, and I realized then there was a fear that they could become non-essential. My theory is that this fear is behind the desire to repress women world-wide, be it denying rape or forbidding schooling, lest we wake up and realize that men are superfluous! Don’t worry, most of us still like you, but it’s past time for us to truly be equals.

Ah, true equality, the kind modern technology and the patriarchal state produces by advancing the choice of having fatherless children, but not motherless children.

Commenter Brian restores sanity:

If we come out of the ivory tower and back down to earth, the breadwinner factor is bigger than you let on. Ask any single mother who was not lucky enough to be born into wealth, and I can assure you they would appreciate having a partner around to support a family financially so that she can stay home and give the appropriate attention to a baby, in particular during the first three years of life. I acknowledge that a partner need not be a man, but it’s my understanding that statistically, the vast majority of women prefer men.

Try keeping your lunch down as you watch this:

Excerpt from Lifesite’s coverage:

The police reportedly told the media they were unable to intervene because “they are women.”

First of all, no, they’re not. They’re beasts. Treat them as their actions deserve.

Secondly, what a sorry bunch, deferring to women who’ve forsaken the respect due to the fairer sex.

Karen Straughan (aka Girl Writes What) gave a powerful speech about feminism to the New York Libertarian Party. Excerpts:

By the 1960s, when the western world’s love affair with communism had begun to fizzle, communism’s red-headed stepdaughter, feminism, was only growing in popularity. The sexier, less threatening, more benign-seeming Trojan Mare upon which Marxists had relied to sneak their ideology past the gates of the western world had outgrown its helpmeet role, and taken on a life of its own.

By this era, a discrete and quintessentially Marxist theoretical model of gender had become entrenched in the intellectual sphere, a model based on class conflict theory and postmodern discourse. While communist thought was confined to a small pocket of what the mainstream mostly thought of as misguided weirdos, feminist thought, slapped together from the exact same bricks and mortar, became not only fashionable, but had spawned its own branch of academia, sponsored and enabled by unwitting democratic governments across the west.

While historical views on the sexes had maintained that men and women were distinctly different but complementary partners—role mates, as Dr. Warren Farrell has described it—this new feminist model cast all aspects of society as oppressive and exploitive systems wherein men embodied the Bourgeoisie, and women the Proletariat.

Most of this model—The Patriarchy—and its sub-theories are little more than post hoc rationalizations based on emotional reasoning, easily swallowed by the well-meaning public because of the evidence that stands out most starkly to us given our natural, evolved views of gender. Humans have always been more emotionally reactive to the harms, injuries, injustices, complaints and perils affecting women, and more likely to see women as nurturing, benign, kind, well-meaning and deserving of protection. We have always been more likely to see men as strong, sturdy, capable of self-sufficiency, potent and potentially threatening, and these perceptions inform our reactions when men suffer harms, injuries, injustices and dangers, and when they dare to complain about them.

Because of these innate perceptions, when feminists pointed up toward the top of society and showed us mostly men, we didn’t bother to direct our attention down to the bottom of society so we could see the mostly men there, as well. We all saw a glass ceiling, but not a glass cellar, and allowed feminists to convince us that all aspects of society, the formalized and the informal, were male-dominated and male-controlled, and that women, as a class, were utterly powerless and subjugated under this system.

Marriage was redefined under this model, from a partnership where both parties contributed and benefitted, to a form of sexual slavery and unpaid drudgery for women where wives were subjugated and exploited for their husbands’ express benefit. Under second wave feminism, family was reinterpreted as an institution based on exploitation—instead of all members working together for the benefit and shared success of all members, women were recast as powerless subordinates, providing unreciprocated labor toward the raising of HIS children, and the keeping of HIS house, labor that freed husbands to pursue economic and social power outside the home.

It didn’t matter that most men had little more access to economic and social power than most women, or that what power men achieved they were expected to share equitably with their families. Feminists were too busy pointing upward at the congressmen, bank managers and CEOs and crying injustice, to show us the taxi drivers, garbage men, plumbers, loggers, fishermen, miners, construction workers, factory laborers, field workers, roughnecks and janitors. They envied the power of generals and statesmen, but spared no thought for the thousands of young foot soldiers dead in the trenches. They were jealous of the self-determination that made an industrialist rich beyond dreaming, but when that self-determination produced a different outcome for the mostly male population of tramps, beggars and hobos it was invisible to them.

They focus solely on the men above and don’t even notice the men below.

The 23 cent average, apples to oranges, annual wage gap is STILL, in their minds, the height of sexist injustice, but the greater than 90% workplace death gap is...well, who cares?

...

The traditional obligation of a woman to defer to her husband’s authority was defined as “oppression”, but her husband’s obligation to die in a trench to protect his country and family...that became “male privilege” and when enough people protested the hubris of that assertion, it became “Patriarchy hurts men too.”

Under The Patriarchy, all men are privileged by their maleness, and all women oppressed by their femaleness. And if men are, as a class, the privileged Bourgeoisie, if men hold collective power over society, then all men are culpable for the oppression and exploitation of all members of the female Proletariat, and any discrimination a man might face in society is just his own privilege backfiring on him.

...

One need only watch the Life of Julia, Obama’s most naked and blatant appeal to the natures of women—especially young, single women. Julia has no father, and no husband—she needs neither of those things. The state will take care of her needs from birth to death, and will support her when she decides to have a child of her own—a child that, in Obama’s narrative, is also fatherless. The man in Julia’s life, the one who will perform the roles—provision, protection, support—historically performed by husbands, brothers and fathers, is more powerful than any man she’ll ever meet, more able to provide for her, and one she need make no compromises with.

Julia will never have to pick up this man’s dirty socks, or put up with him snoring or farting in bed, or consider his needs, or provide him with respect, love or affection. He is the ultimate provider and the ultimate protector, and he will ask nothing of her in return but her vote.

And he’ll give her all those benefits through a system that coerces net taxpayers and net tax-generators, of whom a disproportionate number are men, to surrender their productivity while offering them neither mutual benefit nor voluntary association. This feels right and just to feminists, because the state is merely assisting Julia in stealing back what was wrongfully taken from women, as a class, by men, as a class. This feels like a great deal to Julia, since all she has done is replace a man with whom she would be required to bargain freely, with a state that provides her all the same benefits without the messy business of having to trade anything valuable for them.

I nominated “Julia” for Person of the Year last year. I better start thinking about who deserves to win the honor this year.

Kay Hymowitz writes on the “gender gap”:

Gender gap fundamentalism creates a zero-sum struggle between the sexes where women’s advantage is always good while men’s is always bad. Take the measurement of “healthy life expectancy.” In keeping with its methods, the report ranks countries not in terms of how long women live, but in terms of the gap in life expectancy. Oddly, there is no disadvantage for a reverse gender gap. So, as John Edale noted on the Good Men Project blog, the report gives the Russian Federation first place on healthy life expectancy because its men die so much younger (55) than its women (65). Japan, on the other hand, sinks to 36th place because even though its women live to 78—13 years longer than in Russia—the men of the land of the rising sun have the gall to live to 73. And so it is that, as the Japan Times announced in its headline on the report: “Japan’s Poor Gender Gap [is] Worsening.”

Equally perverse are the education rankings. In 25 countries, we learn, women are now more educated than men. Those countries get a perfect gender gap score. Same for labor force participation rates, one of the benchmarks for determining a country’s ranking in “economic opportunity and participation.” The winning countries in the LFPR sweepstakes are Malawi, Mozambique, and Burundi; they have a lower gender gap than even the Nordics. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. In deeply distressed countries, anyone who possibly can, including a child, gets a job. The U.S., by the way, comes in at 40th in the gender gap in labor force participation, way behind such lady paradises as Kazahkstan, Ethiopia, and Botswana, though given the ongoing decline in American male labor force participation rates, perhaps we could catch up soon.

These sorts of weird results are not simply numerical outliers. They reveal the report’s underlying indifference to both the interdependence between the sexes and the broader ecology of family and national life, an indifference which is unfortunately commonplace in the universe of women’s studies. It imagines that the world could in some sense be better for women when their husbands and sons don’t graduate high school or go to college, don’t have a job, and die young. All that matters is that women are building human capital in the service of increasing national competitiveness. The media, meanwhile, celebrates all of this as giving us the truth about “the best place to be a woman.”


Some hidden George Gilder gems:

Giving, beginning within the family and extending outward into the society, is the moral center of the system.

...

Marriage is not simply a ratification of an existing love. It is the conversion of that love into a biological and social continuity.

On the latter point, Carson Holloway concurs: “It would be no exaggeration to call this definition a tradition of the human race.”

My lovely girlfriend sent me an article by Kelly Flanagan called “Marriage Is For Losers.” It’s not what you think. Excerpt:

A decision has been made, and two people have decided to love each other to the limit, and to sacrifice the most important thing of all—themselves. In these marriages, losing becomes a way of life, a competition to see who can listen to, care for, serve, forgive, and accept the other the most. The marriage becomes a competition to see who can change in ways that are most healing to the other, to see who can give of themselves in ways that most increase the dignity and strength of the other. These marriages form people who can be small and humble and merciful and loving and peaceful.

And they are revolutionary, in the purest sense of the word.

Because we live in a culture in which losing is the enemy (except in Chicago, where Cubs fans have made it a way of life). We wake up to news stories about domestic disputes gone wrong. Really wrong. We go to workplaces where everyone is battling for the boss’s favor and the next promotion, or we stay at home where the battle for the Legos is just as fierce. Nightly, we watch the talking heads on the cable news networks, trying to win the battle of ideas, although sometimes they seem quite willing to settle for winning the battle of decibels. We fight to have the best stuff, in the best name brands, and when we finally look at each other at the end of the day, we fight, because we are trained to do nothing else. And, usually, we have been trained well. In the worst of cases, we grew up fighting for our very survival, both physically and emotionally. But even in the best of situations, we found ourselves trying to win the competition for our parents’ attention and approval, for our peers’ acceptance, and for the validating stamp of a world with one message: win. And, so, cultivating a marriage in which losing is the mutual norm becomes a radically counter-cultural act.

Selflessness, putting her before me, that makes a marriage last. It’s not losing. It’s winning.


Marta H. Mossburg rants about branding at the American Spectator:

Branding is not about becoming a better person, but advertising you are the right sort of person so that like-minded people – to go back to the dog analogy -- will come sniff your butt. Growing up used to mean shedding that sort of herd mentality but now it is a staple of adulthood.

It’s great that so many people want to “Save the Tatas,” for example, but what about the pancreas, the liver and the epidermis? There are so many pink ribbons and pink everything out there – even on NFL players – in support of breast cancer awareness it seems to have drowned out any information about other types of cancer. Good for the breast cancer people for figuring out how to raise money for their cause, but as a society I can’t help but think that we’ve started to unlearn the difference between popularity and merit and more susceptible to the groupthink that comes from being inundated by seeing only certain images over and over again.

The ‘I brand, therefore I am’ mentality also breeds a need to constantly keep up with the latest important causes and trends in order to stay fresh and relevant to peers. It’s exhausting just thinking about it. So until someone can convince me otherwise, I will continue to drive bumper-sticker-free cars, buy logo-less handbags and enjoy traveling to wherever my family decides to travel anonymously without forcing you to revel in my self-expression as if it were a deity to be worshipped.

I am guilty of this. I have bumper stickers on my car, some strictly for proselytization, but one is a Clif Bar sticker. I don’t like Clif Bars, but I want people to think I’m the kind of guy that eats Clif Bars. It boasts my outdoor adventure-seeking, the kind of branding Mossburg doesn’t like.

On this subject, I wrote a month ago:

People’s individual brands, marketed for consumption, self-serving, skew perceptions of reality, embedding unrealistic expectations in our subconscious.

Read more here.


In USA Today, Jonah Goldberg compares the contraceptive mandate to an imaginary firearm mandate to illustrate how absurd it is:

The right to own a gun is a far more settled issue constitutionally, politically and legally in this country, but not even the National Rifle Association would dream to argue that we have a right to free guns, provided by our employers. If your boss were required to give you a gun, your new employer-provided Glock still wouldn’t be free because non-cash compensation is still compensation. The costs to the employer are fungible, which means whether it’s a pistol or a pill, the cost is still coming out of your paycheck—and your coworkers’ paychecks.

Jill Filipovic doesn’t see a problem:

After all, no one is forcing the owners of the company to take contraception or purchase contraception.

But they are being forced to purchase contraception. Employer-provided benefits, including contraceptives, are in lieu of payments to employees. The mandate forces employers to buy contraceptives with the profits of doing business and give them to their employees in lieu of payments.

By refusing to cover contraception, the Hobby Lobby owners (and the owners of the other companies claiming the healthcare law infringes upon their religious freedom) are in fact using their own religious beliefs to deny benefits to their employees who may not share those beliefs at all. That’s not religious freedom; it’s religious tyranny.

Belied by the fact that employers “have no say over how the employees spend [their paycheck],” which Filipovic cited four paragraphs earlier. So, companies reserving the right to determine how to compensate their employees is religious tyranny. She’s paid to write this. Unbelievable.


As his presidency tanks on a signature law that doesn’t work, Obama channels a phony “whatever works” anti-philosophy, Reuters reports.

“I’m not a particularly ideological person,” said the pragmatist, categorizing his failed faith-based “spread the wealth around” economics as anything but a contradiction of the laws of nature. Pragmatic, common-sense, natural, God-ordained, and just. These are words to describe Obamacare.

“A therapeutic sense of self-sacrifice is fine in the abstract, but in the concrete such magnanimity causes far more harm to the innocent than does a realistic appraisal of self-interest and a tragic acceptance of the flawed nature of man. The theme of the present administration is that it possesses the wisdom and resources to know better what people should do than they do themselves. From that premise arose most of catastrophes that have befallen this administration.” –Victor Davis Hanson

Charles Kessler observes Obamacare clarifies the differences between liberals and conservatives:

What the battle over Obamacare has helped to reveal is that it isn’t just two clashing interpretations of the same Constitution that divide liberals and conservatives today. It is increasingly two different constitutions that are locked in conflict. Liberals support the “living constitution,” which regards the bulk of the 1787 document as dysfunctional under modern conditions, hence obsolete if not, indeed, dead. They recognize only a few phrases in a few amendments as truly vital.

Conservatives cling to the old Constitution (as amended) not merely because it is old but because its principles of justice, based in human nature, are correct, and because its institutions and customs wisely anticipate both human greatness and human baseness. From this point of view, it is the passage of Obamacare—with its hasty party-line votes, corrupt side-deals, and brazen lawlessness—and not its attempted repeal, that amounted to a constitutional dysfunction. (emphasis mine)

Pete Du Pont writes in the Wall Street Journal:

Large government interventions in the market almost always fall short of their backers’ dreams (although not usually this rapidly). Such programs suffer from a common set of flaws, all of which are found in ObamaCare. First, and perhaps foremost, is the hubris inherent in the assumption that bureaucrats in Washington (or Moscow, Beijing or Pyongyang) know better than families, individuals and businesses do what is best for them.

...

Perhaps most disappointing, we can observe in the administration’s handling of ObamaCare a now all too familiar subversion of the rule of law, a fundamental precept of our nation’s founding and of democracies everywhere. George Will notes that the administration has apparently decided it can adopt legislation by press conference as Mr. Obama simply announces changes to the law or that he will not enforce certain provisions. His administration then proceeds to strong-arm businesses and demonize critics.

Du Pont’s colleague at the Journal, the clever James Taranto, summarizes the fascists’ equivocation on President Obama’s broken Obamacare promise:

If you liked your plan and it was cancelled on account of ObamaCare, it’s not that Obama failed to keep his promise, it’s that the promise didn’t apply to you because your plan wasn’t a plan at all.

What he doesn’t spell out is that the legal definition of “health insurance” is part of the ObamaCare legislation. So the Obama pledge qualified by the [James] Carville equivocation is a tautology: If your plan is one that ObamaCare permits you to keep, you can keep your plan.

“Government is us,” quoth the president. He was barely coherent as he was chewing the broken pieces of the civil society.

“It can and should reflect our deepest values and commitments,” he said. That explains why government is forcing changes on us that we don’t want.


Ross Douthat unpacks Pope Francis’s criticisms of capitalism:

It’s true that there is far more continuity between Francis and Benedict than media accounts suggest. But the new pope clearly intends to foreground the church’s social teaching in new ways, and probably seeks roughly the press coverage he’s getting.

It’s also true that Francis’s framework is pastoral rather than political. But his plain language tilts leftward in ways that no serious reader can deny.

Finally, it’s true that there is no Catholic position on, say, the correct marginal tax rate, and that Catholics are not obliged to heed the pope when he suggests that global inequality is increasing when the statistical evidence suggests otherwise.

But the church’s social teaching is no less an official teaching for allowing room for disagreement on its policy implications. And for Catholics who pride themselves on fidelity to Rome, the burden is on them—on us—to explain why a worldview that inspires left-leaning papal rhetoric also allows for right-of-center conclusions.

That explanation rests, I think, on three ideas. First, that when it comes to lifting the poor out of poverty, global capitalism, faults and all, has a better track record by far than any other system or approach.

Second, that Catholic social teaching, properly understood, emphasizes both solidarity and subsidiarity—that is, a small-c conservative preference for local efforts over national ones, voluntarism over bureaucracy.

Third, that on recent evidence, the most expansive welfare states can crowd out what Christianity considers the most basic human goods—by lowering birthrates, discouraging private charity and restricting the church’s freedom to minister in subtle but increasingly consequential ways.

This Catholic case for limited government, however, is not a case for the Ayn Randian temptation inherent to a capitalism-friendly politics. There is no Catholic warrant for valorizing entrepreneurs at the expense of ordinary workers, or for dismissing all regulation as unnecessary and all redistribution as immoral.

That theme has been dominant on this blog since its first days.

I bristle when I hear the pope range about inequality and the free market. The free market is a necessary condition for prosperity to exist, let alone redistribute wealth to productive, hardworking people.

Plutocratic financialization, secular materialism, cronyism—which damage the free market by association—these Pope Francis should condemn. For example:

When biofuel company Amyris went public in September 2010, market watchers were unimpressed. The company was shooting for a $100 million initial public offering. It ended up making $85 million on the day.

Some of its top investors, though, profited handsomely. Venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers pulled down $69 million on its $16.5 million investment. Khosla Ventures, another VC firm, made $65.4 million on its initial $15.6 [million] stake.

The IPO came less than a year after Amyris received a multi-million-dollar stimulus grant through the Department of Energy.

In securing that taxpayer backing, Amyris benefitted from its investors’ wealth of political connections. Those investors saw an opportunity for profit in Amyris and a host of other green energy companies, but they were also deeply committed to leveraging their own – and taxpayers’ – investment to help solve what they saw as pressing social problems.

For Vinod Khosla, a former Kleiner Perkins partner and founder of Khosla Ventures, cleantech investing was “green” in more than one sense of the word. The multiple biofuels companies in which he has invested, from his perspective, produced more than profit.

Khosla is a firm believer in “social entrepreneurship” – addressing social problems through business, technology, and innovation. That belief is apparent in his enthusiasm for green energy projects. “Most of the environmental problems we are facing today, and I consider myself an environmentalist, have technology solutions in addition to political and other solutions,” he said in 2002, while at Kleiner Perkins.

In 2008, Khosla saw an opportunity in Barack Obama. “I am one of those Republicans who is for Obama,” he explained. Khosla served as the head of Obama’s India policy team. He donated $82,000 to Democrats from mid-2006 through the 2008 election. “I think Obama will be much stronger for clean tech” than Republican candidate Sen. John McCain, he said of his support. “So that is going to be good news.”

It was certainly good news for Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins, which together boast more than a dozen companies in their respective portfolios that would receive taxpayer support from the Obama administration.

Khosla’s support for Obama and the Democratic Party continues to pay off. In June, he held a $32,400-per-plate fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at his home. The president and three Democratic Senators attended. At the event, Obama touted the administration’s “climate action plan,” which calls for additional “investment” in biofuels. Months later, Khosla-backed biofuel company LanzaTech received a $4 million grant from DOE.

Days after the department announced that grant, Jim Messina, Obama’s former campaign manager and the head of Organizing for Action, his personal advocacy group, joined LanzaTech’s board. LanzaTech’s grant, its second from DOE, came through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus.

(Kudos to Lachlan Markay on a superb article. Read the rest here.)

It seems as though Pope Francis does not discern the corporatist making backroom deals with regulators and congressmen from the small-business entrepreneur. Andrew B. Wilson writes:

Pope Francis conflates all business—including the larcenous businesses that flourish in poor countries under corrupt, authoritarian governments—with free enterprise, which requires the rule of law and genuine economic freedom—recognizing the fundamental right of every individual to control his or her own labor and property and extending to all the benefit of being able to work, produce, consume, and invest as they see fit within the boundaries of the law.

Temper this with:

“We’ve become too rah-rah about capitalism, what we’re really saying is that wealth creation, which capitalism is supremely good at doing, is really the be-all and end-all of human life. And that reinforces the secularist mentality.” –R. R. Reno

With the passage of time, I become more indifferent to foreign policy, specifically the threat posed by radical Islam. My focus is on the Left. About the most I can muster is that we are in bad shape if we have not the spine or the moral compass to call a spade a spade. It doesn’t help that the doomsday predictors have been saying for years that Iran is “less than a year” from developing a nuclear weapon, or poised to “turn the corner” on its uranium enrichment. The absence of calamity has sapped my fervor.

This bit by George Will rings true:

Some advocates of war seem gripped by Thirties Envy, a longing for the clarity of the 1930s, when appeasement failed to slake the dictators’ thirst for territorial expansion. But the incantation “Appeasement!” is not an argument. And the word “appeasement” does not usefully describe a sober decision that war is an imprudent and even ultimately ineffective response to the failure of diplomatic and economic pressures to alter [the Iranian] regime’s choices about policies within its borders.

In his obituary of Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Bob Bartley, Irving Kristol writes:

Bob and I were allies in the debate on “supply-side” economics, having been converted by Bob’s colleague, Jude Wanniski. The name “supply-side” was almost certainly a mistake. It took me a couple of years to figure out what it was, although Jude explained it patiently more than once. It would have helped if we had simply said that we were committed to the economics of growth instead of the economics of equilibrium and stability.

Bartley died 10 years ago.


Melanie Phillips, author of the brilliant book Londonistan, has penned an autobiography. Excerpt:

As socialism withered and the free market dominated, identity politics replaced economics. Above all, what was emerging was the cult of the individual, which gave rise to the dominance of subjective experience over objective authority of any kind, and was not merely to transform family life but also turn the understanding of what was normal and what was transgressive inside out.

Carl R. Trueman comments at First Things:

As the last quotation hints, one underlying theme, only ever quietly stated, is the ultimate practical similarity between the identity politics of the left and the radical libertarianism which emerged on the right in the ’80s. Both root sovereignty in the individual in a way that transforms notions of self and identity. That in itself makes the book worthy of purchase.

The World Turned Upside Down is another book of Phillips’s that has been on my reading since its 2011 publication. Seeing as how little progress I’ve made on that reading list lately, it will be several more years before I get to it.


Greg Scoblete reviews James Barrat’s Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era:

In 267 brisk pages, Barrat lays out just how the artificial intelligence (AI) that companies like Google and governments like our own are racing to perfect could—indeed, likely will—advance to the point where it will literally destroy all human life on Earth. Not put it out of work. Not meld with it in a utopian fusion. Destroy it.

Wait, government is perfecting this genocidal intelligence? There’s nothing to worry about, then. Shortest book ever! Barrat wasted 266-and-a-half pages.


Finally, Randy Galloway reports in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram that “hate [is] brewing” between the Texas Christian University (TCU) and Baylor University football programs and fans. Galloway writes gleefully:

The Baylor vs. TCU rivalry has now been elevated to a wide-open sports hate category. That is good. Very good.

That is bad. Very bad. My sister is a junior at TCU. I graduated from Baylor in 2007. A split Baylor-TCU flag hangs in front of my parents’ house. Future college football seasons could be tense times in my family. When I talked to Catherine on the phone after the Baylor-TCU game last weekend, which she attended, she sounded a tad angry, probably toned down because she knows I’m a Baylor fan.

We’re not supposed to hate our rivals. Proverbs 24:17 tells us “do not rejoice when your enemies fall, and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble.” Lots of people hate Lebron James. When he lost in the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, people celebrated not for the Mavs winning, but for James losing. That was cruel to James and an indictment of those who dislike him.

Then again, as people living in God’s realm, all are indicted. All are forgiven, too.

1 comment:

  1. Outstanding collection of commentary here! Needless to say, I'm in agreement with the vast majority of it. In fact, I couldn't really quibble with any of it!

    Just as good and pithy are your comments in between the various commentators' remarks.

    Best,

    -- x

    ReplyDelete