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

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