Saturday, April 19, 2014

Odds and ends 4/19/2014

Christopher Chantrill has insight on social liberals/economic conservatives:

The genius of teaching the educated professional class to be “socially liberal, economically conservative” for the last 20 years was that the economically conservative part came for free during the Great Boom from 1983-2007. When the economy looked good forever and everyone’s 401(k) was increasing, the professional class could easily be persuaded to look down on—and actually fear!—the bigoted Religious Right and vote for Democrats. Candidate Obama’s remark about bitter clingers captured the meme perfectly.

But now that gay marriage is a fact and the junior inquisitors from the gay Holy Office have shifted from the hard work of proselytizing to the exquisite pleasure of showing heretics at Mozilla the instruments of torture, what now?

Think casino magnate/Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson is looking for a full-spectrum conservative for 2016? His friend and associate Victor Chaltiel said:

He doesn’t want a crazy extremist to be the nominee. He wants someone who has the chance to win the election, who is reasonable in his positions, who has convictions but is not totally crazy.

Translation: a neoliberal who isn’t going to scare feminists and the gay mafia with talk of “taking us back to the ’50s.”

This was left over from my piece on Rand Paul’s vacuous outreach. In his talk to the same social conservative group,

He talked of “moral” and “religious” virtues that are imparted by family and community. He also called for the place of Christian forgiveness in reforming the criminal justice system, particularly regarding mandatory sentencing for drug-related felonies, and for the rehabilitation of non-violent drug offenders.

A voting majority is not going to be raised on relaxing drug laws. This illustrates a big problem for libertarians. They hedge around Leviathan, but they go to the mat with their half-allies on the Left to carve out licenses to pollute their bodies. They have no interest in asserting morality or tradition into the law in any meaningful way. They’re secularists.

Stella Moribito writes a blockbuster essay on same-sex marriage at the Federalist. Excerpts:

The tipping point came soon after certain big name conservatives and pundits swallowed the bait on same sex marriage. Folks like Michael Barone, John Bolton, George Will, S. E. Cupp, and David Blankenhorn have played a huge role in building momentum for this movement, which, as we will see, is blazing a trail to the abolition of state recognized marriage. And whether they know it or not, advocacy for same sex marriage is putting a lot of statist machinery into motion. Because once the state no longer has to recognize your marriage and family, the state no longer has to respect the existence of your marriage and family.

Without civil marriage, the family can no longer exist autonomously and serve as a wall of separation between the individual and the state. This has huge implications for the survival of freedom of association.

The notion of marriage equality was never about marriage or about equality. It’s all about the wrapping paper. It’s been packaged as an end in itself, but it is principally just a means to a deeper end. It is the means by which marriage extinction – the true target — can be achieved. If marriage and family are permitted to exist autonomously, power can be de-centralized in society. So the family has always been a thorn in the side of central planners and totalitarians. The connection between its abolition and the limitless growth of the state should be crystal clear. So anyone who has bought into this movement, or is tempted to do so, would want to step back and take a harder look.


The hard push for marriage equality was never about marriage. Neither was it about equality. It’s a convenient vehicle to abolish civil marriage, whether to rid the world of paternalism, evade responsibility for children, “privatize” relationships, or whatever. Abolishing marriage strips the family of its autonomy by placing it much more directly under the regulating control of the state.

Once the state no longer has to recognize the marriage relationship and its presumption of privilege and privacy, we all become atomized individuals in the eyes of the state, officially strangers to one another. We lose the space – the buffer zone – that the institution of the natural, organic family previously gave us and that forced the state to keep its distance.

Isn’t it ironic that feminists would replace the “paternalism” of marriage (what happened to strong women?) with the new paternalism of state regulation of personal relationships? Isn’t it ironic that singles in this scheme of things simply end up marrying the state?

At some point, we must conclude that freedom of association has its source in state acceptance of the core family as the primary buffer zone between the individual and the state. There is no escaping this fact, no matter a particular generation’s attitude or public opinion polling, or advances in medical technology, or whatever else comes our way.

Forty-Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being investigated for “rape.”

The woman says she felt lightheaded and went to the bedroom to lie down. She claims Kaepernick “came up behind her into the bedroom and started kissing her.”

“She advised they were kissing (mouth) and Mr Kaepernick started to undressed [sic] her. She got completely naked. Mr. Kaepernick told her that he was going to be right back and left the bedroom. They did not have sex.”

The woman told cops that while she was still naked in bed, Patton and Lockette opened the door and “peeked” inside. She says she told them to get out ... but she can’t remember anything after that.

The woman later woke up in a hospital bed ... but says she doesn’t remember how she got there or who took her there.

The woman also claims she has had a sexual relationship with Kaepernick in the past.

Guilty! String them up!

Robert Stacy McCain has been impressive lately on the topic of feminism:

Friedrich Hayek called “social justice” a mirage, and the same may be said of “gender equality.” It is a mirage, a will-o’-th’-wisp, a phantom goal whose pursuit is a fool’s errand because it can never be obtained. Worse even than that, as our laws and institutions are altered to fit the radical egalitarian plans of social engineers, attitudes and behaviors are altered in ways that actually make life worse for women, who are alleged to be the intended beneficiaries of the feminist project.


What the radical feminist rejects is the idea of sexual dimorphism as a natural basis for the division of labor between the sexes. Students of design are taught that form follows function, and the observable differences between male and female constitute a sort of scientific argument for a differentiation of roles between them. The biological purpose of sex is procreation, and if we expect both parents to contribute to the survival of their offspring, the pair-bonding of parents into a permanent unit — the basis of the family — requires a system of cooperation. Viewing sex roles from this natural or biological perspective, we see that child-bearing and breast-feeding tend to inhibit the ability of mothers to work outside the home, at least until their children reach a certain level of maturity.

Advances in technology and the pervasive affluence of developed industrial economies permit us to ignore sexual differences — and the natural or biological basis of sex roles — to a great extent. If “work” consists mainly of sitting in front of a computer terminal, after all, there is no obvious reason that men and women should not be equally capable of such work, whereas in earlier societies, the male role as breadwinner depended largely on physical labor for which men’s greater upper-body strength made them especially suitable. Modernity makes it easy (especially for college-educated professionals who have never earned their living by manual labor) to forget that the superiority of masculine physical strength still matters, just as the development of technology — including cheap, reliable contraception — obscures the centrality of childbearing to women’s biological characteristics.

I’m reading Bella V. Dodd’s autobiography School of Darkness. These excerpts leapt out at me:

In the days that have gone since we enunciated these statements so confidently I have had many occasions to see that this cataloging of people as either “right” or “left” has led to more confusion in American life than perhaps any other false concept. It sounds so simple and so right. By using this schematic device one puts the communists on the left and then one regards them as advanced liberals -after which it is easy to regard them as the enzyme necessary for progress.


More and more I wanted to talk and act only in terms of the future, of a future that would have none of the corruption of the present. It depressed me that people close to me could accommodate themselves to such a present. Only people I did not know, the great mass of unknown human beings, began to awaken in me a poignant sense of kinship. In fact, I began to transfer my personal feelings to this wholly unknown defeated mass. And so it came about that I began to seek my spiritual home among the dispossessed of the earth.


I myself was growing impatient with abstract scholarship, for it seemed to lead nowhere. I hated the emphasis placed in the school system on getting degrees. An M.A. was necessary to hold certain jobs and a Ph.D. was essential for a promotion and an increase in salary. I questioned the value of the many dissertations filed away in the archives. The topics chosen for dissertations seemed more and more inconsequential. And my eager youth longed for significance, for meaning, for participation.


My friendship with the Finkelsteins was to continue for years. In them again I saw the warmth of a family which was like-minded, closely knit, and determined to stay together, impervious to the corroding influences of a large industrial city. I asked myself why it was that other families I knew did not have this ability to hold together. I felt that family stability was in great part due to the cherishing of traditions, to the continuous renewing of the memories of the past which included their friendship with God and a boundless loyalty to each other. (Ch. 4)

I hear pangs of Dostoevsky and C. S. Lewis in the second quote. I hear Hillary Clinton’s “politics of meaning” in the third. In the fourth, Dodd the ex-Communist would completely reject tradition, the very thing she yearned for, and try to remake the world for the rise of the proletariat.

As for the first quote, I have realized “the Left” is too amorphous and indistinct a target for attack. It oversimplifies the varied machinations of thought processes of the enemy. If the evil is will, call it will. If it’s false equality, call it false equality. If it’s dehumanizing, top-down managerial statism, call it dehumanizing, top-down managerial statism. And so on.

I was conscious of the fact that here politics had become a matter of life and death. I was conscious also that the intellectuals, the teachers, professors, and scientists were arrogant in their pride but lacked the inner strength to play a salutary role in that country’s hour of need. Here were men of the highest intellectual achievements who were ready to attach themselves to the forces of violence. I did not then realize, as I now do, that for close to a century the educational world of Germany had been subjected to systematic despiritualization which could result only in the dehumanization now apparent. This made it possible for such despiritualized men to serve both the Nazi and later the communist power with a terrifying loyalty and efficiency. (Ch. 5)


Acts of daring, supported by the appearances of moral justification, have a terrific impact in building a movement, regardless of whether or not you win. This is a fact the Communists know how to use.


Today I marvel that the world communist movement was able to beat the drums against Germany and never once betray what the inner group knew well: that some of the same forces which gave Hitler his start had also started Lenin and his staff of revolutionists from Switzerland to St. Petersburg to begin the revolution which was to result in the Soviet totalitarian state. (Ch. 7)

Steven Rattner wants to make retirement saving mandatory:

The best solution would take up the question of mandated savings. I understand that in today’s world of stagnant incomes, forced savings mean less money for individuals to spend now. But would we seriously prefer that our children become impoverished senior citizens? The approach I like is Australia’s superannuation program, which requires that 9 percent of workers’ pay be diverted into retirement accounts. Tax incentives are also provided, to encourage additional deposits.

This qualifies as heresy to Keynesian demand-siders. It also appeals to the bureaucratic mindset of government knows best how to (not) spend your money. “Forced savings” sounds ominously like Social Security. I’m not counting on my Social Security “account” to be there when I retire in 40 years. I’m not even sure my 401(k) will be there in 40 years.

“If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.” –Ronald Reagan

Whenever someone throws this Reagan quote at you, remember libertarianism is an ideologically stunted rebranding of conservatism.

At the Federalist, David Corbin and Matt Parks send up Bill de Blasio’s Cooper Union speech:

As always, there’s more heroic work to be done. Create jobs. Build housing. Fix things. Engage parents in their children’s education. Hire more talented public employees. Be inclusive. And secure more state and federal funding to help pay for it all.

If you wonder what drives those engaged in this unending labor, you’re not alone. Playing the political psychologist, the Mayor asked, “Why do we do this work? Why are we so involved in our communities? Why do we engage the political process?”

Here the Mayor turned to Democratic icon Robert F. Kennedy for an answer. In making the case for universal human rights, then-Senator Kennedy argued before a South African audience:

Everything that makes man’s life worthwhile-family, work, education, a place to rear one’s children and a place to rest one’s head—all this depends on decisions of government; all can be swept away by a government which does not heed the demands of its people. Therefore, the essential humanity of men can be protected and preserved only where government must answer-not just to the wealthy, not just to those of a particular religion, or a particular race, but to all its people. (emphasis added)

In Kennedy’s construction, government must be accountable to—“must answer” to—the whole people because of the power it wields over the most fundamental elements of the good life.

It turns out, though, that the old-fashioned liberal Senator Kennedy was not Progressive enough. Mayor de Blasio’s understanding of what it means for a government to “answer ... to all its people” is fundamentally different from the original. First, he left out the clause in bold. We are not to be distracted by meditations on the dangers of despotic government. This striking (unnoted) omission is a clear window into the contemporary Progressive mind.

Moreover he reinterprets Kennedy, equating the duty to “answer” with the duty to “respond”: “That simple concept—that we must answer, we must respond, that it’s our obligation to see clearly what people are experiencing and to do something to make their lives better. That’s what we believe in.” Government, according to the Mayor, is not responsible to the people unless it is responding to the people, abuzz with efforts “to make their lives better”—that is, unless it is a universal call center ready to turn every inquiry into a governmental requisition.

That last sentence mocks de Blasio’s “New York, New York” call center, which gives “customers” of city services a voice to complain to.

Liberals needn’t concern themselves with turning Texas blue. “Conservatives” are doing a good enough job on their own. WOAI reports:

Even though a majority of Texan consider themselves to be “conservatives,” a comprehensive new poll released by Texas Tech University shows Texans are not toeing the conservative line on two key issues, 1200 WOAI news reports.

The poling, from the Earl Survey Research Lab at Texas Tech, shows the attitudes of Texans are changing markedly when it comes to gay marriage. For the first time in any poll, more Texans, 48% support gay marriage than oppose it, 47%.


“A majority of Texans believe illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay and apply for citizenship,” McKenzie said. A clear majority, 56% of Texans, say they support a “pathway to citizenship” for individuals in this country illegally today. Only 22% of Texans believe that illegal immigrants should be required to leave.

But on other key issues, Texans are as rigidly conservative as ever. President Obama has only a 23% approval rating, and 75% of exams feel that under Obama, the nation is moving in the “wrong direction.”

Except they couldn’t tell you why. Cognitive dissonance allows people to support bad policies and to reject their negative consequences.

In the UK Telegraph, Tim Stanley summarizes Christian love and ministry by moral shepherding:

For Christians, love is a multifaceted thing. It’s about giving, it’s about sacrificing. And it’s an act of love to tell people when they’re going wrong. Nice atheists don’t have to do that because there’s no commandment to rescue others from themselves. But we have to—and we need to do more of it.

The New American’s William F. Jasper’s take on the Bundy Ranch standoff:

“It’s not over,” Reid told NBC’s Nevada affiliate KRNV on Monday, April 14. “We can’t have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it’s not over.”

Senator Reid, Nevada’s senior senator, is very incensed when the American people, i.e., ordinary citizens, “violate the law” — as he puts it — but he says nothing about the more serious violations of the laws and the Constitution by public officials, such as himself or the BLM officials.

This is the same federal BLM that Chief Judge Robert C. Jones of the Federal District Court of Nevada last year ruled had been engaged in a decades-long criminal “conspiracy” against the Wayne Hage family, fellow ranchers and friends of the Bundys. Among other things, Judge Jones accused the federal bureaucrats of racketeering under the federal RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations) statute, and accused them as well of extortion, mail fraud, and fraud, in an effort “to kill the business of Mr. Hage.” In fact, the government’s actions were so malicious, said the judge, as to “shock the conscience of the Court.” Judge Jones granted an injunction against the agencies and referred area BLM and Forest Service managers to the Justice Department for prosecution.

Has Attorney General Eric Holder prosecuted any federal officials for criminal activity and violation of the Hage family’s constitutionally protected rights? No. Has Sen. Harry Reid denounced this lawlessness and criminal activity by government officials and call upon President Obama and Attorney General Holder to protect the citizens of his state from the depredations of federal officials under their command? No.

For what it’s worth, here’s my very short take.

The NBA playoffs are here, and the Spurs are the top seed. My hero Tim Duncan had a scare against the Mavericks last week. Here’s a sample of live reactions when Duncan’s return was in doubt:

Duncan did reenter the game a few minutes later. He put up 20 points and 15 rebounds in the win.

Duncan is old. He turns 38 this week. Time is running out to put another championship ring on his finger. The Spurs came so close last year, up 5 points with 28 seconds left in game 6 of the Finals, only to lose the game in overtime and lose game 7. It was a tough pill to swallow.

Sure, the fan base wants a fifth championship. But we want one more for Duncan, to send him out on top. He’s given so much to San Antonio.

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