Monday, March 31, 2014

Glossing over vanity

How I Met Your Mother almost had a real moment in the season 8 episode titled “Romeward Bound.”

Barney, who is engaged to Robin, spends most of the night fantasizing what his wedding planner looks like underneath her coat. He shares the fantasy with Robin, not even trying to hide his lust-filled ego (par for the course for Barney). Ted, who is close friends of both, tries to explain to Barney that Robin may be hurt by Barney’s continuous fascination with other women, despite how “cool” with it she may seem.

Before Ted gets the point across, Barney stops him, offended that Ted thinks he knows Robin better than he. Ted drops it and offers to buy the next round of beers.

Barney’s pithy, emotionally stunted defense would work within the context of a man who is deluded about whom he is called to be in marriage, and a friend who is too timid to correct him. But that’s not the context provided. Barney’s presumed superiority goes unchallenged, and the notion that a wife would not be “cool” with her husband fantasizing about other women is dropped.

This flies in the face of Robin getting upset when she found out Barney lied about burning his playbook, a book of plays he ran on girls to get them in the sack when he was single. It flies in the face of Barney’s stated reason for settling down, that he felt cold and empty after treating girls as sex dolls his whole life.

Perhaps he needed to be reminded of that cold, empty feeling by his best man, Ted. Perhaps he needed to hear that he would have to be faithful to his wife, and even then that wouldn’t guarantee a successful marriage. Most people in a wedding are there to tell the couple what they want to hear. A few are there to tell them what they need to hear. The best man is such a person. The groom needs his best man to encourage him when he feels doubt and humble him when he gets cocky.

Barney rejected Ted’s prudent advice, and the show’s plotters validated his vanity by glossing over it.

How I Met Your Mother, whose 9-season run ends tonight, is an amusing, diverting show, but its persistent glorification of sexual hijinks as the main characters ostensibly “mature” renders it mild soft-core porn with only marginally better plotting.

UPDATE (4/3): In the series finale on Monday, Barney and Robin separate after being married 3 years. The reason given is Robin’s career as a network news reporter, which takes her all over the world. In reality, Barney’s wandering mind and eyes and his lack of shame and self-awareness of them would have doomed the pair from the start.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Land of the setting sun

Note: This is a companion piece to “Saving to prosperity.”

As the Federal Reserve tapers quantitative easing after a failed 6-year experiment to boost aggregate demand, the Japanese government is quadrupling down, staring down the barrel of a third lost decade since the asset bubble burst in the ’90s.

The AP reports:

The strategy hinges on getting consumers and businesses to make purchases sooner rather than later. But so far wages have not risen, and the rising cost of living seems to be triggering still more belt-tightening.

In Japan, the interest rate hasn’t been north of 2 percent since 1993. Total credit market debt is a whopping 512 percent of GDP as of 2012. Japan boasts the highest government debt burden in the developed world, rising from 77 percent of GDP in 1993 to 227 percent.

Such lascivious monetary and fiscal policies have been intended to water down the currency and “stimulate” the economy, but they haven’t. Inflation has been virtually nil.

Bizarrely, the national sales tax will rise from 5 percent to 8 percent on April 1, breaking the Keynesian internal consistency. The only way a sales tax hike fits logically into the plan is if consumers rush to buy goods before the sales tax hike takes effect.

They’re not. They’re buying gold to hedge against inflation—inflation that will not come as long as capital stays tied up in static markets.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Saving to prosperity

David Stockman gave an amazing talk to the Committee for the Republic, presenting an alternative interpretation of the Great Depression:

The Great Depression was born in the extraordinary but unsustainable boom of 1914-1929 that was, in turn, an artificial and bloated project of the warfare and central banking branches of the state, not the free market.

Nominal GDP, which had been deformed and bloated to $103 billion by 1929, contracted massively, dropping to only $56 billion by 1933. Crucially, the overwhelming portion of this unprecedented contraction was in exports, inventories, fixed plant and durable goods—the very sectors that had been artificially hyped. These components declined by $33 billion during the four-year contraction and accounted for fully 70 percent of the entire drop in nominal GDP.

So there was no mysterious loss of that Keynesian economic ether called “aggregate demand”, but only the inevitable shrinkage of a state-induced boom. It was not the depression bottom of 1933 that was too low, but the wartime debt and speculation bloated peak in 1929 that had been unsustainably too high.

He claims the Great Depression was over by 1932, but President Roosevelt revived it in 1933.

Hoover’s bitter-end fidelity to fiscal orthodoxy, as embodied in his infamous balanced budget of June 1932, got blamed for prolonging the depression. Yet, as I have demonstrated in the chapter of my book called New Deal Myths of Recovery, the Great Depression was already over by early summer 1932.

At that point, powerful natural forces of capitalist regeneration had come to the fore. Thus, during the six month leading up to the November 1932 election, freight loadings rose by 20 percent, industrial production by 21 percent, construction contract awards gained 30 percent, unemployment dropped by nearly one million, wholesale prices rebounded by 20 percent and the battered stock market was up by 40 percent.

So Hoover’s fiscal policies were blackened not by the facts of the day, but by the subsequent ukase of the Keynesian professoriat. Indeed, the “Hoover recovery” would be celebrated in the history books even today if it had not been interrupted in the winter of 1932-1933 by a faux “banking crisis” which was entirely the doing of President-elect Roosevelt and the loose-talking economic statist at the core of his transition team, especially Columbia professors Moley and Tugwell.

The truth of the so-called banking crisis is that the artificial economic boom of 1914-1929 had generated a drastic proliferation of banks in the farm country and in the booming new industrial centers like Chicago, Detroit, Youngstown and Toledo, along with vast amounts of poorly underwritten debt on real estate and businesses.

When the bubble burst in 1929, the financial system experienced the time-honored capitalist cure—a sweeping liquidation of bad debts and under-capitalized banks. Not only was this an unavoidable and healthy purge of economic rot, but also reflected the fact that the legions of banks which failed were flat-out insolvent and should have been closed.

Indeed, 10,000 of the 12,000 banks shuttered during the years before 1933 were tiny rural banks located in communities of less than 2,500. Most had been chartered with trivial amounts of capital under lax state banking laws, and amounted to get-rich-quick schemes which proliferated during the export boom.

Indeed, a single startling statistic puts paid to the whole New Deal mythology that FDR rescued the banking system after a veritable heart attack: to wit, losses at failed US banks during the entire 12-year period ending in 1932 amounted to only 2-3 percent of deposits. There never was a sweeping contagion of failure in the banking system.


During the middle 1930s, the natural rebound of the nation’s capitalist economy continued where the Hoover Recovery left off—notwithstanding the New Deal headwinds. Yet the evidence that FDR’s policies retarded recovery screams out of the last year of pre-war data for 1939: GDP at $90 billion was still 12 percent below 1929, while manufacturing value added was off by 20 percent and business investment by 40 percent.

If it wasn’t New Deal/World War II stimulus that ended the depression, what was it?

The national debt did soar from less than 50 percent of GDP, notwithstanding the chronic New Deal deficits, to nearly 120 percent at the 1945 peak. But this was not your Krugman’s debt ratio—or proof that the recent surge to $17 trillion of national debt has been done before and had been proven harmless.

Instead, the 1945 ratio was an artifact of a command and control war economy which had banished civilian goods including new cars, houses and most consumer durables, and tightly rationed everything else including sugar, butter, meat, tires, shoes, shirts, bicycles, peanut brittle and candied yams.

With retail shelves empty the household savings rate soared from 4 percent in 1938-1939 to an astounding 35 percent of disposable income by the end of the war.

Consequently, the Keynesians have never acknowledged the single most salient statistic about the war debt: namely, that the debt burden actually fell during the war, with the ratio of total credit market debt to GDP declining from 210 percent in 1938 to 190 percent at the 1945 peak!

This obviously happened because household and business debt was virtually eliminated by the wartime savings spree, dropping from 150 percent of GDP to barely 60 percent and thereby making headroom for the temporary surge of public debt.

In short, the nation did not borrow its way to victory via a Keynesian miracle. Measured GDP did rise smartly because half of it was non-recurring war expenditure. But even then, the truth is that the American economy “regimented” and “saved” its way through the war.

So, a decrease in consumption returned the economy to overall good health, and put it in a better position to deal with inevitable cuts in military spending. The post-war “recession” saw GDP fall 12.7 percent, but non-farm unemployment peaked at a disarming 5.2 percent in 1946, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Reflecting an increasingly consumptive economy, the personal savings rate fell from 12 percent in 1981 to 2 percent before the 2008 crash. Household debt grew by an average of 10 percent annually from 2003 to 2007, supported by the housing bubble. Since then, a paring back of non-federal government spending has more than offset the fantastic ballooning of the federal budget. Rex Nutting of Marketwatch reported on this in June 2012:

As a share of the economy, debt has plunged as a consequence of rapid deleveraging by families, banks, nonfinancial businesses, and state and local governments. The ratio of total debt to gross domestic product has fallen from 3.73 times GDP to 3.36 times.


In the U.S., household debt has now fallen to 84% of GDP from a peak of 98%. Nonfinancial corporate debt has fallen to 77% from a peak of 83%. Financial sector debt has plunged from 123% of GDP to 89%. Public debt has risen to 89% from 56%.

Including the rest of 2012 and 2013, household debt has shrunk by an average of 1 percent annually since the recession, according to the Federal Reserve. It’s a repeat of the ’40s. It may not be wartime, but we are regimenting again.

Because of the high savings rate, Keynesian “stimuli” have trouble circulating through the economy. The money accumulates in sinks, usually the accounts of government contractors and large banks. Despite record low interest rates the last 6 years and Federal Reserve injections of $3 trillion worth of digital paper into the economy, inflation has been historically low, averaging 1.75 percent, and coming in even lower at 1.2 percent last January.

This is well below the Fed’s long-term goal of 2 percent inflation; however, Fed chair Janet Yellen knows intuitively she cannot prime the pump forever. She is tapering quantitative easing, and interest rate hikes will follow later.

Contrary to recent Fed thinking, when monetary policy tightens is when inflation will hit. Just as loose credit buoyed housing, loose monetary policy buoys equities, fueling stocks’ historic 5-year bull market. Since bottoming out in March 2009, the NASDAQ composite index has more than tripled. Minus an inflow of funny money, the equities bubble will burst and capital will come flooding out of the stock market into the real economy.

Still, the deflationary pressure of savings, spurred by higher interest rates, will keep inflation in check.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Little sphere

A man called into Mark Levin’s radio show on March 26 and teed off on America’s broken political system. He said he had no hope and there was no sense of right and wrong in the world. He sounded like he was phoning in from a high ledge. Levin let him talk for 2 minutes, then this exchange followed:

[Levin:] “You sound—you don’t have to answer this—personally very depressed. Is that what’s going on, too?”

[Caller:] “Very depressed. There’s no leaders in Washington—”

“But I mean in your personal life. I agree with everything you’re saying. But are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m okay.”

Recall Christopher McCandless’s rant about “society” in Into the Wild. His hatred of a fallen world drove him to isolation and primitivism. But personally he was not persecuted. In 2 years of wandering around the country he was met with nothing but kindness from strangers.

Contrast the preoccupying fear of a harsh and hostile world against a relatively charmed, idyllic existence. Why let the outside intrude so deeply into our thought life?

Media have the extraordinary ability to beam the world’s problems into our homes. It can feel at times like we are oppressed from all sides. Perspective is needed. The world is a big place, and we are very small. What is the sense in worrying? The world will burn, and we would not feel it.

Contributing to the quality of life in my little sphere is my top political priority. Everything else is spectator sport.

“The things within our power are by nature free, unrestricted, unhindered; but those beyond our power are weak, dependent, restricted, alien. Remember, then, that if you attribute freedom to things by nature dependent and take what belongs to others for your own, you will be hindered, you will lament, you will be disturbed, you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you take for your own only that which is your own and view what belongs to others just as it really is, then no one will ever compel you, no one will restrict you; you will find fault with no one, you will accuse no one, you will do nothing against your will; no one will hurt you, you will not have an enemy, nor will you suffer any harm.” –Epictetus

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Forgiveness for Javert

In Les Misérables, the Pharisaical Inspector Javert, adherent to the letter of the law, is captured by French revolutionaries and awaits execution. By a trick of fate, Valjean, a fugitive Javert’s been pursuing for years, is appointed his executioner. But the altruistic Valjean, transformed 14 years earlier by the grace shown to him by a Catholic bishop, in turn shows Javert mercy and lets him go.

Thus arises a conflict in Javert, mirroring the central conflict of the narrative: What is justice? Javert’s conscience tells him he cannot continue to pursue Valjean after he spared his life. On the other hand, his absolute fealty to the law demands he continue the pursuit.

Who is this man?
What sort of devil is he
To have me caught in a trap
And choose to let me go free?
It was his hour at last
To put a seal on my fate
Wipe out the past
And wash me clean off the slate
All it would take
Was a flick of his knife
Vengeance was his
And he gave me back my life

Damned if I’ll live in the debt of a thief
Damned if I’ll yield at the end of the chase
I am the law and the law is not mocked
I’ll spit his pity right back in his face
There is nothing on earth that we share
It is either Valjean or Javert!

How can I now allow this man
To hold dominion over me?
This desperate man whom I have hunted
He gave me my life
He gave me freedom
I should have perished by his hand
It was his right
It was my right to die as well
Instead I live, but live in hell

And my thoughts fly apart
Can this man be believed?
Shall his sins be forgiven?
Shall his crimes be reprieved?

And must I now begin to doubt
Who never doubted all these years?
My heart is stone and still it trembles
The world I have known is lost in shadow
Is he from heaven or from hell?
And does he know
That granting me my life today
This man has killed me even so?

I am reaching, but I fall
And the stars are black and cold
As I stare into the void
Of a world that cannot hold
I’ll escape now from that world
From the world of Jean Valjean
There is nowhere I can turn
There is no way to go on!

The death in life Javert decries is the death of his former self. “‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed’” (1 Peter 2:24). Valjean, the Christ figure, essentially baptizes Javert at the moment of reckoning, as the bishop essentially baptized Valjean, refusing to press charges against him for stealing the church’s silverware.

Remember this, my brother
See in this some higher plan
You must use this precious silver
To become an honest man
By the witness of the martyrs
By the Passion and the Blood
God has raised you out of darkness
I have bought your soul for God

Javert, looking at his dead self from the other side of his baptismal experience, and convinced of his errors and his distortions of justice, ends his life. He admits the fundamental truth of God’s grace, but unlike Valjean he cannot accept it—not for himself, not for anyone.

Still thinking like a Pharisee, Javert judges himself harshly against the new standard and marks his soul as irredeemably condemned. Overwhelmed by his sin, he says among his last words, “There is nowhere I can turn.” That’s not true. He can turn to a life of championing real justice. He can turn to a life of serving others. Valjean can be his model. Jesus can be his model. His suicide is unnecessary and tragic.

Further reading: “Why did Javert kill himself?” by Bruce Kokko.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Half liberal

Robert A. Levy, chairman of the libertarian Cato Institute, concedes that libertarians are half liberal:

The libertarian position on same-sex marriage and drug legalization is indeed liberal, not conservative — even as our position on fiscal issues is conservative, not liberal. Does that mean libertarians are philosophically inconsistent? No, it means conservatives and liberals are. Conservatives want smaller government in the fiscal sphere, but they condone bigger government when it comes to empire building and regulating personal behavior. Liberals want fewer government restrictions in the social sphere, but they embrace strict limits on economic liberty.

Unlike liberals and conservatives, libertarians have a consistent, minimalist view of the proper role of government. We want government out of our wallets, out of our bedrooms, and out of foreign entanglements unless America’s vital interests are at stake.

Conservatives would be inconsistent if they too prioritized liberty in and of itself. But they don’t. Conservatives prioritize virtue. Benjamin Franklin said, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.”

Postmodern America is exhibit A in the argument for taking people’s freedom away. Open a newspaper and witness democracy in action. Look at the choices the citizenry makes. We need laws defining marriage as between man and woman because there are people who think marriage is whatever they want it to be.

Getting government “out of our bedrooms” is a trite, tired line, no longer applicable if it ever was. Forget the bedroom, the argument is about relative values in the public square. The gay mafia has brought illicit activity into the public square to contend for the culture.

Their overreach has exposed libertarians, and hurts their long-term viability. Feigning ambivalence about sin is less easy when its practitioners seek legal sanction.

Related: “Stoned before the state.”

Monday, March 24, 2014

Clear red dot

Empty stimulation cannot compare to the deep, vivid peace hidden from the directionless life, but it is a handy substitute. People who elect slavery need a benign outlet for their passion.

“As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends compensating to increase. And the dictator (unless he needs cannon fodder and families with which to colonize empty or conquered territories) will do well to encourage that freedom. In conjunction with the freedom to daydream under the influence of dope and movies and the radio, it will help to reconcile his subjects to the servitude which is their fate.” –Aldous Huxley

Like a dog whistle, the calls of the flesh overpower the senses, while on a different wavelength calls to transcend futile and temporary concerns go unheeded.

What to do with political and economic freedom? The classical right of self-determination is indistinct, its ends infinite. The target is at once too broad and too small. In this larger realm of freedom, there is no clear red dot that human instinct says to aim for.

Robert Stacy McCain reflects on feminist Amanda Marcotte’s rabid preference for lack of stretch marks over progeny, for distended ego over distended belly:

Christians may perceive in Marcotte’s wicked depravity confirmation of the Bible’s prophetic truth, for she is “full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity ... without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.” But when the mask slips and her ghastly hatefulness is revealed, Marcotte goes off an another deranged rant about “compulsory child-bearing” and “traditional gender roles,” in a transparent effort to distract attention from her own problems.

The “my body, my choice” crowd’s viciousness confirms their nihilist mindset. For this world they live, and they attack anything that blocks the way to realizing their atomized personalities. Wild, they project the power they have assumed over their limited existence outward.

The totalitarian state encourages them. It concedes to them the red dot while annexing the rest of the scope of freedom.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Odds and ends 3/22/2014

“It’s a classic social conservative point: the idea that mediating institutions — family, church, and other associations — are what guarantee our liberties, and protect us from totalitarian control.” –Rod Dreher

Mark Levin quoted from his book Liberty and Tyranny on his March 13 radio show:

An individual may benefit from the moral order and unalienable rights around which society functions while rejecting their Divine origin. But the civil society cannot organize itself that way. It would become unstable and vulnerable to anarchy and tyranny, imperiling all within it, especially the individual. The abandonment of Natural Law is the adoption of tyranny in one form or another, because there is no humane or benevolent alternative to Natural Law.

He read this quote again on March 17 in response to an atheist who objected to his preference for a man of faith to be president.

Daxton Brown explains biflation:

Adherents to the Austrian School maintain that creation of new money ex nihilo (out of nothing) benefits the creators and early recipients of the new money relative to late recipients. Money creation is not wealth creation; it merely allows early money recipients to outbid late recipients for resources, goods, and services. Since the actual producers of wealth are typically late recipients, increasing the money supply weakens wealth formation and undermines the rate of economic growth.

An increase in the money supply rate of growth coupled with a slowdown in the rate of growth of goods increases the rate of price inflation by definition. What we have currently is a fast increase in price inflation (especially fuel and food) and a decline in the rate of growth in the production of goods leading to unemployment. But this is exactly what stagflation is all about, i.e., an increase in price inflation and a fall in real economic growth.

Stagflation is the normal outcome of loose monetary policy. Stagflation is the natural result of monetary pumping which weakens the pace of economic growth and at the same time raises the rate of increase of the prices of goods and services. For loose money policy to work, people would need to be fooled into thinking the increase in money was the same as prosperity, but that game soon wears thin. Where the stagflation model breaks down is that loose money has also led us to experience massive deflation from credit collapse, most notably in housing (inflation + deflation). This leads to a refinement in terms called biflation.


The inflationary aspect of biflation comes when an over-abundance of money is injected into the economy by the central bank. Since essential commodity-based assets (food, energy, clothing) remain in high demand because they are the basis for survival, their price rises with the increased volume of money chasing them. The increasing cost of purchasing essential assets is the price-inflationary arm of Biflation.

The deflationary aspect of biflation comes because the economy is tempered by increasing unemployment, decreasing purchasing power and the decreased velocity of money. Bluntly, no one trusts anyone else in business transactions because of bankruptcies and institutional fraud normalized by the government. As a result, money is directed toward buying essential items and directed away from buying non-essential items. Debt-based assets (homes, high-end automobiles and other typically debt based assets) become less essential and increasingly fall into lower demand. As a result, the prices for them fall due to the decreased volume of money chasing them. The decreasing costs to purchase these non-essential assets is the price-deflationary arm of biflation.

A blatant example of advocacy journalism at the New York Times. President Obama has nominated Stanley Fischer to deputy chair of the Federal Reserve.

[Stanley Fischer’s] academic work in the 1970s helped to provide the intellectual justification for today’s activist monetary policy. His students included the recently retired Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, and Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank.

The crime here is that the reporter, Binyamin Appelbaum, counts this in Fischer’s favor.

Charles Tuttle draws a brilliant parallel to barriers to membership in a community:

The scene is Upper Monarch Lake, ten thousand feet up in the mountains of the Sequoia National Park in California. If you got here, you climbed thousands of feet in elevation through the wilderness, carrying your tent, sleeping bag, and all your supplies on your back. There is not a single graffito or piece of trash to be seen. If you should happen to have neighbors in a nearby tent for the night, you will not worry a bit about whether they will steal your gear or harm you in the night, even though they are strangers. More likely, they’ll invite you to share some of their bourbon.

Why do backpackers feel safe sleeping outside in public at 10,000 feet but not in their own city parks? It is the steep barrier to entry that creates this microcosm of community that so naturally emerges: anyone who has made it here has the physical, material, social, and informational resources to pass this natural test of good character.

“There isn’t much to do in prison except desecrate your flesh,” said sadist Max Cady in the 1991 remake of Cape Fear. That seems to be the attitude today, abdicating humanity and holiness to become like animals.

“You can forget about trying right up front to persuade folks that homosexuality is a good thing. But if you can get them to think it is just another thing—meriting no more than a shrug of the shoulders—then your battle for legal and social rights is virtually won.” –Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen

The LGBT mafia is quelling dissent everywhere. Stanford’s gay mafia doesn’t want Ryan T. Anderson to speak on campus:

“A lot of students who are queer come to Stanford because it’s one of the most LGBT-friendly places in the world,” [Brianne] Huntsman said. “I grew up in Utah, where it was really conservative and a lot of us come from similar backgrounds, and we feel that we every time we go home. Stanford is supposed to be a safe space for us.”

“Safe space” is code for professional victims’ totalitarian control of the public square.

Rachel Lu reports on a “Bullying Bill” coming down the pike in Minnesota that basically codifies relativism:

“Bullying” is defined in a way that conspicuously says nothing about the intent of the “bully” but only about the effect his words or actions have on other students. In other words, it doesn’t matter what your intention was; bullying is measured by the other kid’s feelings. The school doesn’t have to inform anybody’s parents of the incident or the punishment, and schools are expected to introduce “developmentally appropriate programmatic instruction” to diminish bullying, the content of which is unspecified. Taken in a broader context, parents understand that this will almost certainly involve curricular efforts to normalize homosexuality and transgendered behavior, with the obvious understanding that students who oppose the message are vulnerable to being labeled as bullies and punished.

Proponents of such legislation (a similar bill is being considered right now in Massachusetts) obviously have no sense of irony. We already knew that liberals were happy to use state power to steal our lunch money and indoctrinate our kids. Calling this a “strike against bullying” is a little much. But everyone understands that why anti-bullying legislation is suddenly such an urgent priority for liberals. It’s not because at-school bullying is on the rise (it isn’t). It’s because liberals feel they need a still-more invasive and grassroots way to get into the homes of conservatives who stubbornly refuse to yield to their social agenda.

Bingo. She must have read “Bathroom commitment.”

Ross Douthat points out the irony in the “debate”—by which I mean shrill accusations on one side and timid retreats on the other—over Arizona’s since-vetoed SB1062. Hysterics called it bigoted, Kristallnacht, etc. In fact it was a retreat to postage stamp-sized religious liberty, which is supposed to be impregnable because it’s protected by the Constitution (as if that stopped them before). Douthat writes:

What makes this response particularly instructive is that such bills have been seen, in the past, as a way for religious conservatives to negotiate surrender — to accept same-sex marriage’s inevitability while carving out protections for dissent. But now, apparently, the official line is that you bigots don’t get to negotiate anymore.

You should acquaint yourself with the enemy if you haven’t already. Here’s Douthat’s colleague at the New York Times, Charles Blow:

Arizona’s S.B. 1062, part of the conservative “Jim Queer” crusade to use religious liberty as means of codifying discrimination against people for their sexual identities, once again places conservatives on the wrong side of history and further marginalizes an intolerance-obsessed party during an inclusion-oriented era.


The backlash to this bill was swift and strong, and rightfully so, as Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, weighed whether to veto it, which she did on Wednesday. But, in a way, the damage to the Republican brand has already been done. The bigotry continues to coagulate. The harsh read of history draws Republicans further into disapproving resolution.

History doesn’t look kindly on those who stand against equality. Yet, that’s where conservatives have chosen to stand, much to my dismay and their detriment.

The pace of Americans’ changing attitudes has been breathtakingly swift and shows no signs of abating.

Here’s Mike Wilbon and Tony Korneheiser:

Note their approving nod to useful idiot Senator John McCain.

No network has been more zealous in pushing the homosexual agenda than ESPN. A pox upon them.

At the Federalist, Zac Crippen exposes the Military Religious Freedom Foundation:

The mission statement of MRFF claims that “religious faith is a Constitutionally [sic] guaranteed freedom that must never be compromised.” Paradoxically, atop the homepage of MRFF sits an absurdly jingoistic quote, credited to Mr. Weinstein: “When one proudly dons a U.S. Military [sic] uniform, there is only one religious symbol: the American flag. There is only one religious scripture: the American Constitution. Finally, there is only one religious faith: American patriotism.”

So much for the establishment clause.

“When each citizen submits himself to the authority of law he does not thereby decrease his independence or freedom, but rather increases it. By recognizing that he is a part of a larger body which is banded together for a common purpose, he becomes more than an individual, he rises to a new dignity of citizenship. Instead of finding himself restricted and confined by rendering obedience to public law, he finds himself protected and defended and in the exercise of increased and increasing rights.” –Calvin Coolidge

George Friedman doesn’t think securing the seaport in Sevastopol factored into Russian leadership’s decision to invade Crimea:

That Sevastopol is a critical Russian naval base for operations in the Black and Mediterranean seas was not the key. A treaty protected that. But intervention in Crimea was a low-risk, low-cost action that would halt the appearance that Russia was hemorrhaging power. It made Russia appear as a bully in the West and a victor at home. That was precisely the image it wanted to project to compensate for its defeat.

Deposed president Yanukovych signed the lease with Putin’s puppet Medvedev in 2010. Realistically, the pro-Western revolutionary government is under no obligation to recognize treaties signed under the previous regime.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, the “equality” mayor, settled a discrimination lawsuit against New York City to the tune of a $100 million (hat tip Steve Sailer). The discrimination in question was reading comprehension questions in the firefighter entrance exam. For example:

One tool used by firefighters to fight fires is the portable power saw. The power saw improves operational efficiency by aiding firefighters with cutting operations at fires and other emergencies. The portable power saw comes equipped with three cutting blades. Carbide tip blades are used when cutting through tar-covered roofs, wood flooring and similar materials. Carbide tip blades must not be used on steel objects, such as metal security doors, auto bodies, and metal window bars, since the tips of the blade may come loose and cause an injury to the firefighter using the saw or bystanders. Aluminum oxide blades are used to cut through various types of steel, such as metal security doors, auto bodies, and metal window bars. Silicon carbide blades are used to cut concrete and other masonry materials.

Q. Which type of blade must a firefighter use with a portable power saw to cut a metal security door?

  1. A carbide tip blade
  2. A silicon carbide blade
  3. An aluminum oxide blade
  4. A carbide tip or aluminum oxide blade

Blacks and browns performed worse than whites on this type of question. Anything whites do better than blacks and browns is de facto racist.

I’m going to hazard a guess that men perform better than women at physical tests of strength like carrying an unconscious person out of a burning building and controlling a gushing firehose. Anything men do better than women is sexist.

Sailer comments on Putin’s authoritarianism:

I suspect from Putin's point of view, he's just being politically correct and trying to advance tolerance among the diverse elements of his country. He's not going to let Russian nationalist soccer hooligans insult Chechens like his close personal friend Ramzan Kadyrov, and he's not going to let Pussy Riot invade an Orthodox cathedral and insult the faithful, just as he'd arrest anti-Semites for doing the same thing in a synagogue. Putin's just promoting tolerance by cracking down on extremist provocateurs. But, the old KGB man just doesn't get just how Leninist the West has gotten in its Who-Whom thinking.

Multiculturalism is no more successful in Russia than in California. Factionalism is unhealthy. People who can’t get along need tyrants to settle their disputes.

Pete Spiliakos looks at Millennials:

Millennials are more likely to find themselves alienated from institutions like churches, and have lower levels of social trust. Here is the thing: it isn’t clear that millennials want to be alienated. The College Republican report notes that many millennials have put off getting married and having children because of their lousy economic prospects. Many of the single and struggling millennials aspire to getting married and starting their own businesses. The Obama strategy has been to help them manage the personal alienation and collective economic decline—not reverse it. Obama’s “Life of Julia” slideshow was all about how you could get through life without needing to form a stable relationship with anybody but President Obama. He will be there for you.

At World Net Daily, Marisa Martin channels Anglican rector Robert Hart on porn:

Porn addicts and voyeurs become “lower than the pagans” and far more base, Hart adds. They fall from worship of a transcendent being to that of mere created things and sink yet lower into disordered passions, violence and degradation. Hart extends this so far as to claim porn enthusiasts will eventually lose even the “power to bow down to any god “because they are destroying their own inner being, a place hosting honor, respect and awe.

While America frets over mock Zombie invasions, we are barely perceptible of the soulless, half-dead masses of men among us, lost in their digital lust. Spiritually and emotionally they are becoming lepers and are in danger of losing the power to love, to admire, to exalt, to honor and to be faithful to anything or anyone.

Pornography makes love and sex mechanical, dull, lifeless, regimented and one-dimensional. It is the dead opposite of the creative impulse in life, being chained to a man’s diseased and shriveled imagination and bound to an impersonal carcass. As Russell Moore cautions, those who engage in this “isolated, masturbatory compulsion” won’t be writing poems or romantic songs over it. It is entirely self-referential, and so it is utterly meaningless to the greater world.

At the Acton Institute, Jordan Ballor reviews the Lego movie and strikes a soulful chord on the evils of technocracy:

Early on in “For the Life of the World” we are introduced to the idea that everything we have, everything we are, everything in the world, is gift. It’s all gift. It is all the gratuitous and overflowing gift of God. Our created task, which we lose sight of because of the reality of sin, is to take those gifts and, in the context of our callings as stewards, offer them back to God.

The connection here between the LEGO movie and “For the Life of the World” lies in the free, dynamic creativity that God calls us to exercise in our service of others. God calls us to offer these gifts back to him in large part through our work, our creative service of others. At one point in FLOW, Stephen Grabill points out that this vision of moral enterprise requires a context of freedom for responsible and responsive creativity: “If you try to control the process, it’s like we’re trying to control how people offer their gifts to other people. And what we really need to do is to allow people to offer their gifts to one another in free and open exchange so that others can flourish.”

The great conflict in the LEGO movie is precisely over the shape of the larger social system. If President Business – the consummate man of system – prevails, then that space for creative service will be crushed and everyone will be locked into place according to his central plan. But if Emmet and the other master builders prevail, everyone will be free to explore their place of creative service.

“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead. But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.” I tried to fit that into “Rock of help,” but other than appearing in A Christmas Carol, it shared nothing with the theme of the piece.

Glenn Fairman reviews C. S. Lewis’s career. This part stands out:

His short book, The Abolition of Man, remains one of the greatest treatments about education and the dangers that attend the indoctrination of young minds to a moral neutrality. Indeed, the current burgeoning phalanx of modern apologetics owes much to Lewis, who divined that it was not Science and Christianity that were at war, but the clashing theistic and anti-theistic assumptions of the two worldviews.

Lewis revealed that by understanding Science through anti-theistic preconceptions, modern man holds the neutral scientific method hostage to what is in reality a secular theology. In doing so, anti-theism elevates man to the vacated status of God through the dishonest premises of a circular reasoning – wholly biased in the interest of Scientism or Philosophic Naturalism.

A year ago I was sympathetic to libertarianism. I relied on its premises but resisted the sordid conclusions towards which it devolves. I’ve since discovered I don’t need it, which enables me to read things like this and not cringe:

“Libertarianism is basically the Marxism of the Right. If Marxism is the delusion that one can run society purely on altruism and collectivism, then libertarianism is the mirror-image delusion that one can run it purely on selfishness and individualism. Society in fact requires both individualism and collectivism, both selfishness and altruism, to function. Like Marxism, libertarianism offers the fraudulent intellectual security of a complete a priori account of the political good without the effort of empirical investigation. Like Marxism, it aspires, overtly or covertly, to reduce social life to economics. And like Marxism, it has its historical myths and a genius for making its followers feel like an elect unbound by the moral rules of their society.” –Robert Locke

Thursday, March 20, 2014

True to being

Christopher McCandless, immortalized in Jon Krakauer’s book Into the Wild, was an idealist and a romantic. He saw the world he grew up in as materialistic, corrupt, superficial, consumed with banality, dissociated from its truth. He believed by “going Galt,” by divesting himself of society’s trappings he could discover his essential nature.

After college graduation McCandless forsook his belongings, his car, his money, his relationships, and his name, and he tramped around the western United States for 2 years. He never stayed in one place for very long. The remoter, the better. Logically, he came to view the majestic wilderness of Alaska as his ultimate baptismal pool, where “the climactic battle to kill the false being within,” in his words, would be won.

So, to Alaska he went in the spring of 1992. He survived in the Denali Wilderness for a time, but he eventually succumbed to the elements and starved to death. He was 24 years old.

In the biographical movie Sean Penn made about McCandless’s life, McCandless tells his friend Wayne Westerberg:

“I’m going to be all the way out there on my own. No watch, no map, no axe, nothing. Just be out there in it... you know, in the wild.”

[Westerberg:] “What are you doing when you’re there?”

“You’re just living, man. You’re just there in that moment... Maybe when I get back I can write a book about my travels, about getting out of this sick society... You know what I don’t understand? I don’t understand why people—why every person is bad to each other so often. It doesn’t make sense to me: judgment, control, all that...”

“What people are we talking about?”

“You know: parents, hypocrites, politicians, pricks.”

McCandless’s anger at society is relatable. The earth is fallen. Worldly concerns bend you if you’re lucky, break you if you’re not. To cope, many relish the simplicity of being alone in nature. There are two kinds of anger, though: righteous anger and retributive anger. McCandless’s anger is the latter. It’s the wrath of a boy turning his back on a world that fails to meet his high standards.

“What people are we talking about?” Westerberg asks. The hell his drinking mate describes does not reflect the homely South Dakota parcel they find themselves on. There are no parents, hypocrites, politicians, or pricks. There are only the lives they make for themselves, which as it turns out are pretty good, and the people they make it with, who are pretty good, too. The dissonance points not at the world as the cause of McCandless’s frustrations, but at himself.

Weeks before he died, McCandless highlighted this line in Tolstoy’s novella Family Happiness: “He was right in saying that the only certain happiness is to live for others.” If this struck McCandless as true to being, it’s sadly ironic. He spent the final years of his life doing the opposite, shunning the company of others, getting lost inside himself in the minimal context of the wilderness, searching for happiness in the one place he would not find it. The answer was before him all along, he was just too proud to see it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Demand is entropy

Dennis Prager produced this short apologetic for capitalism with George Gilder, author of Wealth and Poverty and Knowledge and Power.

Since the Great Depression and the 1936 publication of John Maynard Keynes’s The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, most mainstream economists have seen aggregate demand as the leading indicator of economic health. High demand translates to high employment and high wages, and vice versa. Accordingly, when demand flags, government goes into debt to boost demand.

Consumerism has thrived on the aggregate demand model. Consumer spending comprised 71 percent of the economy in 2013. The less you save, the more you spend, the higher the demand. The deeper the debt, the “healthier” the economy. But demand cannot rise unabated without a commensurate rise in productivity. The Great Recession started from a collapse in demand caused by the drying up of credit.

Aggregate demand is entropy, a measure of capital that isn’t being invested in the future. The key to a growing, thriving economy isn’t demand. It isn’t consumption. It’s innovation, which requires self-denial and self-sacrifice to bring new products and services to market.

“Entrepreneurs by the very nature of what they do must shun greed ... Entrepreneurs must begin by saving: forgoing consumption to achieve long-term goals.” –Gilder

This long-term orientation of parlaying current wealth into future wealth tracks with the generative cycle of human civilization. Parents leave their children more than they were left with, and so on. Wealth is too valuable to waste on the fleeting here and now.

Related: “You need to read George Gilder.”

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dissocial protagonism

Rod Dreher recently got into it with Andrew Sullivan over the latter’s showing little mercy in destroying Judeo-Christian civil society. I was struck by this conciliatory line in Dreher’s March 10 post. He says of Sullivan and other gay “rights” activists who fought for cultural acceptance:

They did us all a favor by awakening us morally to what it is like to live in a country where what matters the most to you is treated in custom and in law as anathema.

I was under the impression all are born with something fundamentally wrong with them, and that it’s their responsibility to cope with it, not demand the law change to accommodate them.

Unfortunately the “awakening” has moved quickly to acceptance and finally to imposition. Gee, thanks for the favor.

Individuals are not the social nuclei the Constitution’s interpreters claim them to be. Some degree of socialization is good. Perish the thought you owe it to your neighbors and yourself to wrestle privately with your demons rather than courting them in the open.

There is no natural or moral truth the imperative to self-esteem does not mow down. Be anybody. Do anything. Never give up. These are noble rallying cries for sports underdogs and self-conscious child prodigies. For the 99 percent of human endeavors that don’t include beating your sports nemesis or overcoming a handicap to do great things, they indicate any obstacle to chasing your dream is evil. The dream is good no matter what it is, while society is at best neutral, usually antagonistic. It’s others who are the problem, obstructing the self from happiness.

Really, neither an individual or a group of individuals is more innately equipped than the other to do good. Society just proves us wrong faster.

At least implicit in Dreher’s accession is the admission Sullivan’s ilk elevate their sins to the center of being. Accusing “homophobes” of obsessing over sex is, charitably, the pot calling the kettle black.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Brave New World was right

After watching this propoganda video of mothers shilling for Obamacare, ask yourself whether George Orwell’s picture of tyranny as “a boot stamping on a human face” was really all that prescient.

The Big Brother model of intimidation and coercion is too obvious. It’s the iron-fisted father who oppresses his children and inevitably drives them out of the nest. It overlooks a fundamental fact of life: People directly denied freedom will strive with all their being towards it.

Big Mother rules with a caressing touch. She babies her children and doesn’t let them grow up. She keeps them dependent on the comfort and safety she provides because they’re too helpless and ignorant to make it on their own.

With this video, the nanny state has announced its appropriation of the mothering instinct. The sock puppets’ children have left the nest and earned their independence. Yet they shamelessly enlist the government to return their children to an infantile state, at once undermining the hard work they put in to raise their children into adults and undermining other mothers’ roles in their young children’s lives.

“Your Mom Cares” is the propoganda campaign’s title. The government needs to enlist young, warm bodies to balance the old, cold bodies that Obamacare ostensibly serves, or the socialist system’s fees will spiral out of control. Caring sans rational thought causes these messes in the first place.

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.” –C. S. Lewis

“We nag you because we love you.” –Michelle Obama

Friday, March 14, 2014

Splitting Ukraine

In 2010, Russia agreed with the elected government of Ukraine to lease the seaport of Sevastopol for the Russian Navy. Sevastopol’s warm saltwater port on the Black Sea is strategically important for Russia, which is landlocked to the east, south, and west.

Since the Soviet Union dissolved, Ukraine has been torn between allying with Russian and Western powers. It is dwarfed by the powers on both sides; there, Ukraine’s alignment with either Russia or the West is sure to provoke the other.

For a long while, the United States and European Union were winning the diplomatic battle over Ukraine. Russia entered the new millennium severely weakened after an economic depression in the ’90s. The powers reached parity in the 2000s.

  • America invaded and occupied Iraq and Afghanistan for 10 years, expending much military and economic capital, for naught.

  • In 2009, America canceled an anti-missile defense shield over Eastern Europe.

  • After the financial crisis, the toothless, multiculturalist EU has shown a dogged commitment to economic and social self-destruction by a goon squad of international bankers.

The closer Ukraine came to joining the EU in 2013, the more aggressively Russia sanctioned Ukraine economically. While Ukraine was working hard to gain admittance to the passive EU, Russia was working harder to gain the allegiance of Ukraine. Western powers’ ambivalence contrasted with Russia’s determination proved to be the tipping point.

Like Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoing SB1062, Ukrainian leadership reassessed the situation and reversed course midstream. They saw the decadent Western powers’ waning interest and wisely aligned with Russia.

Eurocentrics protested in pro-Western Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, demanding alignment with the EU. The country came close to civil war. Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych was deposed and a pro-Western puppet was installed in power.

This isn’t the first time Yanukovych was removed from office. He won the 2004 presidential election as the pro-Russian candidate. He was publicly endorsed by Vladimir Putin. The Ukrainian high court overturned that result and a reelection was held 2 months later, which he lost.

Yanukovych’s base of support then and now was eastern Ukraine, which is contiguous with Russia. His base includes Sevastopol, home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

After Western powers installed a pro-Western puppet in Kiev, Russia invaded the Crimean Peninsula to protect its seaport. This is invasion done right; Crimeans are the happiest invaded people ever. They will vote March 16 to leave Ukraine to join Russia. Despite the Russian occupation, Crimeans’ concerns over what amounts to a diplomatic coup in Kiev are legitimate. Thus, so is the referendum.

Ukraine is a failed state. One half of the country wants EU membership, the other half wants to join Russia. If we’re to take self-determination seriously, there’s no good reason to subject either side to the will of the other. It’s secession or civil war.

Lest you worry America is going to do anything about this, rest assured we’re just as toothless as the Europeans. Listen to how very concerned Secretary of State John Kerry is:

There will be a response of some kind to the referendum itself. If there is no sign [from Russia] of any capacity to respond to this issue ... there will be a very serious series of steps on Monday.

Kerry’s posturing is less overcompensation for weakness than delusional white knighting. Putin holds the cards. He controls the flow of natural gas into Europe. At any rate, no marginal drop in national GDP caused by economic sanctions compares with losing your top naval base.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bathroom commitment

The New York City Department of Education has the best accommodation for transgendereds I’ve seen thus far. If you believe the text, it actually limits perversion and abuse by horny teenagers. Instead of bestowing equal protection on deviancy, the guidelines call for consistency in gendered behavior, thereby reducing the destructive, narcissistic ways in which an individual can “express” himself.

School administrators are to allow students “to participate in accordance with their gender identity consistently asserted at school” during times when students are separated by gender.

See, the onus is placed on the student to “consistently” assert his gender identity. If you want to use the girls’ locker room, you have to consistently identify as a girl. You have to adhere to the dress code for girls and you have to play on the girls’ teams.

That’s enough to deter most of the one-third of 1 percent of Americans the UCLA School of Law estimates is transgendered. While some children may be truly confused about who they are—adolescence is tough on everyone—NYCDOE’s policy doesn’t permit experimentation while they’re questioning. A conscious, committed effort is required to switch genders in school. You can’t just start showering with the girls to see how it feels.

Still, the accommodation is far from perfect.

The guidelines state that the DoE wants to “support” transgendered students while simultaneously “ensuring the safety and comfort of all students.” Among the factors to be considered are “maximizing social interaction for the transgendered student” and “minimizing stigmatization of the student.” The safety of “students involved” is also to be considered.

To allow everyone to “feel safe” in their sin, no implicit moral assessments are allowed. This is what the anti-bullying campaign hath wrought. Like New Jersey’s ban on gay conversion therapy, NYCDOE’s regulations forbid students and teachers from counseling a confused classmate or student on how he ought to strive to be better. Under the relativistic paradigm, there is no better or worse.

Furthermore, students raised in traditional gendered homes need to be “socialized” to the transgendered at school. You will be friends and play nice, or else risk mandatory sensitivity training for you and your parents.

Meanwhile, in California:

A transgender teenager who said he was beaten and sexually assaulted in a California school bathroom recanted the story, police said Tuesday.

The 15-year-old student at Hercules Middle/High School “admitted he fabricated the whole story” during an interview with a detective, Hercules police Detective Connie Van Putten said.

The teen, who is biologically female but identifies as male, had told officers he was leaving a boy’s bathroom Monday morning when three other boys pushed him inside a large stall and attacked him.

Officers took his statement and opened an investigation that included a sexual assault examination. But officers could not substantiate the facts of the statement, and the boy lacked any physical injuries to his head, face and hands, police said.

The student finally admitted he had made up the story, Van Putten said. She would not speculate on why he had lied.

She won’t, but I will. The little devil understands sympathy is the best currency with which one buys the right to impose yourself on others. Liberal guilt peddlers reward casting oneself as a victim of bullying and oppression.

Further reading: “Will to gender” and “Bathroom choice.”

Girl power

At Fishwrapper, Sarah Taylor is irked at Beyonce “Ban Bossy” Knowles-Carter’s new soft-core porn (music) video for her single, “Partition.” In the video, Beyonce titillates her man by swishing around in scant clothing in a dimly lit ballroom. A conflicted Taylor writes:

The message is what could be construed as even further detrimental to Beyonce’s message of undying feminism. Check out the lyrics:

Driver roll up the partition please
I don’t need you seeing Yonce on her knees
Oh he so horny, yeah he want to f—
He popped all my buttons, and he ripped my blouse
He Monica Lewinsky-ed all on my gown
I just wanna be the girl you like, the girl you like

Why are you so concerned about being the kind of girl he likes, Bey? Doesn’t that go against everything you’ve been peddling over the years about how it’s all about you, and how you feel about yourself in your own skin, and not relying on another person to validate you to the point where you want to be something that you might not be?

First of all, this is not like the feminist-approved animal exhibit between Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus last year. While the pair’s VMAs performance was pure dehumanizing hedonism, the Beyonce video is eroticism exemplified—as graphic as Thicke and Cyrus, but not trashy.

Beyonce knows she’s beautiful, and she knows her beauty attracts her husband to her. She’s not dancing for just anyone. She’s not dancing for herself. She’s dancing for the man she exchanged vows with.

That she finds pleasure in pleasing someone other than herself violates the feminist imperative, in which power is the highest object. Sexual objectification is to be used to get ahead, by manipulating men into doing what you want and by staving off pregnancy. Femininity directed selflessly into marriage does not compute.

Feminism is a big part of Beyonce’s brand, on the other hand. She wouldn’t get to hobnob with the president and first lady if she weren’t a feminist icon. Observe her “Ban Bossy” campaign, stigmatizing natural differences in male and female attitudes towards group activity and leadership. Masculinity is an impulse to act. Men tend to follow active, energetic men, alphas, doers. Women, who are less inclined to rigorous action, come off as bossy when they try to lead men with commands, rather than by example. Admission of this reality doesn’t elicit an invitation to the Obama’s White House.

As Sarah Taylor points out, Beyonce betrays the “girl power” struggle by celebrating submission to her husband. The definition of hypocrisy is publicly saying one thing and doing privately its opposite. Since she’s saying empowerment and submission are good for women, a question needs to be answered: What truth is Beyonce breaking from? What are the $300 million woman’s real values?

Who but God can tell the truth in Beyonce’s heart? Although putting her popularity at risk for her marriage values is indicative.

Sociologist Charles Murray also gives us insight. In Coming Apart, Murray shows how a cultural divide splits America along class lines, how social liberalism’s effects are evident in the middle and lower classes, with their disastrous divorce rates and illegitimacy rates. Murray’s critical contention is this: While the upper class is nominally socially liberal, by temperament and example they are social conservatives. They are far more likely to wait until marriage to have children, to stay married, and to attend church.

“Rich liberals lead personally admirable and economically productive lives, but they are tied to a false ideology of socialism and social permissiveness.” –Andrew Gelman, summarizing Charles Murray

Duke University’s collective outrage at freshman Miriam Weeks for porn acting to pay for tuition would seem to be tarnished by the same hypocrisy as Beyonce’s self-contradictory marriage porn. There’s little doubt the students and faculty stand on the “right side of history” with respect to the sexual revolution. Few would deny her “right” to do whatever she wanted with her body. Why the outrage, then? Why publicly shame Miriam Weeks?

It’s trendy in elite circles to hold socially liberal views. Exemplifying them, though, is not so trendy. Truth subconsciously persists.

“Beyonce could not be a better role model for my girls,” Barack Obama said. He wasn’t referring to her free-wheeling, illicit sex life. No father wants that for his daughters, not even a cognitively dissonant, doctrinaire liberal like Obama. He was referring to Beyonce’s virtue. Everyone honors virtue, despite what they say publicly.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Odds and ends 3/11/2014

Erick Erickson writes a terrific piece on the straight and narrow path:

Christ said we should enter through the narrow gate. A lot of the media’s favorite voices on Christendom preach that the gate is as deep and wide as possible for all comers. That’s simply not true. There is only one way. There is only one path. There is only one savior. All truly are welcome. But that one path offends so many not all want to be welcomed.

John 3:10-12 lays out pretty well the three reasons people will not embrace Christ: (v.10) they do not understand the gospel; (v.11) they refuse to receive the gospel; or (v.12) they do not believe the gospel. Many of these useful idiots for Baal sell a gospel stripped of its full meaning and commitment. They should be commended for wanting all comers to come, but need to be cautioned that not all comers will come. They go all Jesus all the time and quickly strip him of masculinity, godliness, justice, righteousness, power, and the ability to save. They try to sand it down so no one can reject it, but often what winds up getting accepted isn’t the real gospel, but a worldly [sic] version of an emo, weepy Jesus who can’t throw a punch that people created and not the real Jesus who will one day return on a white horse, with a sword, to judge the quick and the dead.

Too many of these people, often hipster prophets, make people comfortable in their sin while trying to sell Jesus. One comfortable in his sin rarely sees the need to embrace one who will extricate him from his sin. These peddlers of pop Christianity are useful idiots for Baal because they claim their faith in Christ without ever making anyone uncomfortable in their here and now. Christ made people uncomfortable.

Erickson is a Calvinist, which doesn’t square with his statement “all truly are welcome.” One of the doctrines of Calvinism is that salvation by grace is only for God’s elect, meaning some are condemned to eternal damnation and there’s no avenue for them to be reconciled to God. They are irredeemable. In other words, all truly are not welcome.

This is not scriptural. Granted, we are not gathered to God without Jesus’ agency, but everyone upon receiving the Gospel has a choice. All are created in God’s image, all are capable of setting aside the wants of the flesh and joining Jesus in eternity in heaven.

I believe sets Calvinism aright:

Salvation is offered to all men on the same conditions. Yes, there are conditions. If there were no conditions, then all men would unconditionally and universally be saved. However, such will not be the case (Matt. 7:13-14). Remember Peter said,

“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:35).

To “work righteousness” means to do what God has required of man to do in order to be saved. The scriptures plainly teach: belief; repentance; confession of Jesus’ deity; and water baptism for the remission of sins (Jn. 8:24; Lk. 13:3, 5; Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 2:38, 22:16). All men must accept God’s grace in the precise same way. God does not require some to believe, repent, confess, and be baptized and not require the same of others. God only has one plan of salvation for all men.

Scary graphic at ZeroHedge:

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked departing Texas Governor Rick Perry what he thought about Ted Nugent, who has had choice words for the president. I’ll skip straight to what the governor should have said: “Ted Nugent is a private citizen with a right to his opinion. And the fact of the matter is a lot of people are very upset at the awful job President Obama is doing.”

Wendy Davis jumped at the opportunity to smear Greg Abbott, her gubernatorial opponent, who campaigned with Nugent. The abortion fetishist invoked “war on women,” “civility,” and racism with aplomb. It doesn’t matter how incongruously the Nugent blip fits into the constructed narratives. Dog whistles are for dogs’ ears and dogs’ minds.

Meanwhile, Senator Rand Paul is busy policing dissent among Republicans. He’s going to run for president, and he wants to look clean and appealing. That means telling Howard University students they have the right to follow Louis Farrakhan. It also means not extending the same latitude to Texans pissed off at President Obama’s performance.

“In America you can live and be a follower of Louis Farrakhan if we leave you alone, and we ought to.” –Rand Paul, 2013

“Ted Nugent’s derogatory description of President Obama is offensive and has no place in politics. He should apologize.” –Rand Paul, 2014

Brooklyn deserves former Texan Amanda Marcotte, who in the midst of a screed about “homophobia” is forced to admit:

The two laws are not exactly analogous, since Jim Crow required many businesses and accommodations to segregate, whereas [SB1062] would be a case-by-case thing.

Here’s another way they are “not exactly analogous”: Skin pigment is not characteristically equivalent—or even similar—to sexuality.

The Washington Times brings us two examples of liberal suicide in Maryland. File these away until the Democratic primaries next year, when Martin O’Malley sells himself as the competent alternative to President Obama’s 8 years of ideological liberalism.

[Beretta], which manufactures firearms ranging from hunting shotguns to the M-9 pistol used by the U.S. armed forces, began its search for a new location outside of Maryland in March.

“We started our search by looking only at states that have a consistent history of support for and likelihood of future support for Second Amendment rights,” Beretta general counsel Jeff Reh said in a statement.

Maryland doesn’t respect the Bill of Rights.

Gun laws adopted in Maryland last year ban some of the types of firearms that Beretta manufactures from being bought or sold in the state.

“From the moment when we started to consider a location outside of the state of Maryland for our manufacturing expansion, the governor and his economic development team did an excellent job demonstrating the benefits of doing business in Tennessee,” Franco Gussalli Beretta, executive vice president of Beretta USA, said in a statement.

What, no tax credits?

Forget the right to bear arms. The right to change genders—that is the crux of liberty. Maryland is moving forward with its own version of San Antonio’s infamous narcissist ordinance. I’ve bolded the most important part.

“This bill is unfair to me. I don’t want males in [female] locker rooms,” Elaine McDermott, a leader of Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government, told the Maryland House Committee on Health and Government Operations Wednesday.

The panel is taking up a bill that has already passed the Maryland Senate that would ensure protections for people based on “gender identity.”

The bill’s definition of gender identity is fluid itself, referring to a person’s “consistent and uniform” appearance, expression or behavior, regardless of assigned sex at birth — or “any other evidence that the gender identity is sincerely held as part of the person’s core identity.”

Don’t worry. The judges will sort it out.

Opponents said the law is so loosely written it will permit men to legally enter girls’ and women’s rest rooms and other private spaces for voyeuristic or criminal purposes.

The Catholic Church opposes undue harassment or discrimination against any person, but is against this bill because of its vagueness, impractical application, and attempt to “enshrine in law” the distinction between someone’s “gender identity” versus their “assigned sex at birth,” the Maryland Catholic Conference said.

“Such a distinction manifests a fundamental violation of our society’s basic understanding of the human person, and the complementarity of the sexes bestowed by nature that lies at the foundation of all human society,” the conference said.

God, am I thankful I left that state!

Senator Joe Manchin is the punchline to an unfunny joke.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) said Thursday that he would be open to repealing Obamacare, but that he also wants to fix lingering issues with the law, according to the Beckley Register Herald.

“I will vote tomorrow to repeal (the ACA),” Manchin was quoted as saying. “But I want to fix the problems in it.”

Manchin, who holds a seat in a heavily red state, has been one of the more conservative Democrats since taking office in late 2010. However, during the government shutdown, Manchin opposed an effort from the House to defund health care reform, ultimately voting to restore funding as part of an agreement to reopen the federal government.

Manchin has talked out of both sides of his mouth on Obamacare since joining the Senate. Without Ted Cruz forcing the issue, this fool’s fool wouldn’t be forced to expose himself.

Daniel Horowitz ridicules the Democrats’ exploitation of veterans:

Unlike many modern-day functions of the federal government, caring for our wounded warriors is a core responsibility. But as is the case with other government programs, liberals think that doubling down on a woefully inadequate VA system and throwing more money at the problem will improve care for veterans. And similar to most other big government initiatives, Democrats are now using a highly-respected group of Americans as political human shields to obfuscate the harmful effects of their policies.

Plus Republican congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

It pleases me to report marijuana tax receipts in Colorado are flowing in at a third of the projected pace. Breitbart carries the story:

In January of 2014, Colorado only brought in $2 million from recreational pot shop sales, far short of what would lead to a successful prognosis from Hickenlooper’s budget office.

When the sum from recreational pot sales was combined with taxes and fees from medicinal marijuana in January, the total was still only $3.5 million.

At that rate, it will take 52 months to reach the 18-month revenue projection.

Here’s an interesting tidbit:

The state’s first $40 million in pot revenue must go toward school construction.

It’s the same tactic the casino shills used in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, when I lived there. Oppose gambling in your neighborhood? Stop starving the schoolchildren, hater.

Speaking of which, a Baptist pastor in Baltimore has struck a deal with the devil. He shills for Baltimore city officials to promote a casino at Camden Yards. In exchange, his congregants get employment at said casino, tempting the poor with false hopes of riches.

“The job market is bad, yes, but we don’t need the institution of the church pushing people towards desperation of jobs when there are other opportunities... We already know the fruit of this [casino]. Why send my people towards that?” –Bart Pierce

Exactly. Just say no to casinos.

“Diversity” leads to cultural nihilism. Fox News reports:

A school administrator pulled aside four boys and told them to either remove their American flag bandanas or leave the game. The boys complied but returned to lead the crowd in a chant of “USA, USA.”

Camarillo High School principal Glenn Lipman told the Ventura County Star that the students were told to remove the bandanas as a “precaution” – because the two schools have “diverse student bodies.”

Climate scientists continue to manipulate the temperature record to hide the decline to replenish their grant funding.

“He who controls the past controls the future.” –George Orwell

Paula Patton, who earned a mention in “Duh, winning!,” wants to divorce Robin Thicke, which would be doing him a favor. His sexual capital is at its apex, hers is in decline. He has every incentive to seek a divorce and receive legal imprimatur to continue his womanizing ways.

Then again, there’s hope. Maybe he sees the empty deep of sin that his life would be shaped by if he divorced his wife.

“I’m a ‘leave everybody alone’ libertarian with no particular animus towards gays myself, but it is obviously preferable to see an increasingly obnoxious minority locked up and forcibly closeted than see both democracy and the freedom of association completely destroyed and thereby immanentizing the societal eschaton.” –Vox

Assimilate or be deported, is the takeaway from this UK Independent article:

The Government revealed the rule in December that requires asylum seekers who arrive by boat and are in Australia on temporary visas to sign a code of conduct.

A leaked draft of the set of rules allegedly drawn up by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison reveals that asylum seekers could potentially be deported if they: “irritate” people, “disturb someone”, spit or swear in public, “spread rumours” or “exclude someone from a group or place on purpose”.

The document describes “Antisocial” behaviour as “an action that is against the order of society”.

The draft reads that it is intended to set out “how people are expected to behave while they are living in the Australian community on a bridging visa”.

Bowdoin College’s “humanist credo” fails. A strikingly un-self-conscious Owen Strachan writes:

The Offer of the College was touted early and often at Bowdoin. Its late-Romantic tones, featuring a mildly divinized natural order (shout out to Emerson) and its exhortation to adopt a chastened noblesse oblige initially sounded odd to my eighteen-year-old ears. I know from my perusal of the back pages of the alumni magazine that it influenced my peers, however. Many a poor-paying urban teaching career, a long-term environmental research post, or a stint in a developing nation has been launched because of a small college in Maine animated by a humanist credo.

It is because Bowdoin has historically embodied this statement that recent developments at the school have taken me and many others aback. In a move that has reminded many onlookers of heavy-handed institutional actions at Vanderbilt University and Tufts University, the school’s administration presented Bowdoin Christian Fellowship (BCF) volunteer leaders Rob and Sim Gregory with a “non-discrimination” statement. This statement required, among other things, that the Gregorys open BCF leadership up to students of any sexual orientation.

As reported in the Bowdoin Orient, Dean of Students Tim Foster explained that “If someone’s participating in an organization and they are LGBTIQA and they are not allowed to participate in that organization because of their sexual orientation or they cannot lead that organization because of their sexual orientation, then that’s discrimination.” Foster sharpened the point: “And that is a violation of Maine law and therefore also a violation of College law.”

A little to the south of Bowdoin, liberal illiberality is having its day at Harvard. Senior “joint history of science and studies of women, gender and sexuality concentrator” Sandra Korn has found out liberty is not an end unto itself, that it’s what we do with our liberty that is most important.

But there’s a problem. Her ends are to stomp out liberty by squelching dissent against totalitarian social justice/anti-discrimination orthodoxy. She writes:

Student and faculty obsession with the doctrine of “academic freedom” often seems to bump against something I think much more important: academic justice.

In its oft-cited Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, the American Association of University Professors declares that “Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results.” In principle, this policy seems sound: It would not do for academics to have their research restricted by the political whims of the moment.

Yet the liberal obsession with “academic freedom” seems a bit misplaced to me. After all, no one ever has “full freedom” in research and publication. Which research proposals receive funding and what papers are accepted for publication are always contingent on political priorities. The words used to articulate a research question can have implications for its outcome. No academic question is ever “free” from political realities. If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of “academic freedom”?

Instead, I would like to propose a more rigorous standard: one of “academic justice.” When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.

Last summer was an exciting time, in no small part because the Spurs were in the NBA Finals. As much fun as Game 5 was, and as anguishing as Game 6 was, for me the most memorable game of the 7-game series was Game 3, in particular for the reaction the Spurs’ defense on Lebron James provoked from sportswriters. Put simply, the Spurs packed the paint and dared Lebron James to shoot jumpshots. They gave him free rein on the perimeter, granting him more freedom than he knew what to do with.

Here are my favorite two examples:

“It doesn’t seem fair or accurate to suggest that the Spurs are simply trying to mess with James’ head by backing so far off of him, but they must be enjoying his lack of comfort when it happens. James shot just 2-for-14 outside the paint and 1-for-5 on three-pointers in Game 3, and he often looked like he was attempting not to settle before ultimately deciding that it was the right basketball play to shoot. No one is more calculating than James when it comes to finding the best look, and he’s simply not used to having the best look right there under his nose anytime he wants it. That must be disorienting and confusing, even for a player of his ability.” –Ben Golliver

“Every time he catches the ball, he's asking himself the same question. Should I just take this shot, or is this what they want me to do? Should I drive like everyone says I should, or shoot confidently like everyone says I should? It's as if the Spurs are the parent that gives their kid a "choice" to do something they shouldn't, only they must ‘live with the consequences’ of the choice. The kid gets nervous about rebelling and ends up doing what the parent wants anyway. (Maybe this just happened to me).” –Mike Prada

Rereading this, my bowels go squishy. It was such a diabolical tactic, so Nurse Ratched-like in its simplicity and manipulativeness!

Finally, “Pornography’s Stunning Impact–and What Happened When Some Chose to Give It Up.”

Monday, March 10, 2014

Rock of help

The greatest measure of love is time, which none of us have enough of.

Seventeen seasons and counting Tim Duncan has given to the San Antonio Spurs. Since 2004, Duncan has been my favorite athlete. I still say half-jokingly I want to be like Tim Duncan when I grow up. He turns 38 next month. The end of a great career is nigh.

Chris Itz shares his insight into Duncan’s greatness at Spurs blog Pounding the Rock:

Tim’s one of the greatest teammates of all-time. He’s never said a bad word about a teammate, never once thrown someone under the bus. He’s always there at the end of games, high-fiving and head-patting the fellas, always the last one off the court. When he’s had the night off he’s been the team’s biggest cheerleader, constantly cheering and shouting words of encouragement to the guys. When the Spurs clinched the Western Conference last season, the team wasn’t happiest they were going to the Finals, they were happiest because Timmy was. His teammates love him, and he has always made everyone on the court with him better. Just how much is that worth?

You can’t measure the exponential benefits of giving, how it increases value in those around you and in yourself at the same time. It’s true in economics, it’s true of teammates, and it’s true of fellowship.

What makes A Christmas Carol unforgettable? Ebenezer Scrooge—whose name in Hebrew means “rock of help”—is shown by three ghosts his past, present, and future. At the end, he is shown his grave. Struck by his barren, bitter legacy, the harrowing experience converts him. He dies to himself and is reborn a helper, a giver.

Scrooge uses his wealth to perform works of generosity in the community. More important than his donations, though, are his time, his energy, his attention. By giving of himself, Scrooge acquires more riches than he ever could have hoped to gain as a relentless pursuer of mammon. His love multiplies and reflects back on him many times over in the tight bonds he forges with his neighbors. God’s blessings shine through his selflessness.