Sunday, June 29, 2014

Odds and ends 6/29/2014

“Today’s favored ones put all their energy into convincing themselves that they are the oppressed, the rejected, the banned, and that they are not going to put up with it. Those who are admired and who voice received opinion congratulate themselves warmly for their work of resistance.” –Alain Finkielkraut

Bigots, bigots in the wrong,
Far in the past do you belong.
Human progress you can’t prolong.
To the future we rush headlong.

I perused John Scalzi’s blog archive for more examples of vanity, and found this post from August 2002, which strikes all the pretentious chords of fair, egalitarian enlightenment taking on Cro-Magnon Christian bigotry. Excerpt:

He did admittedly write an article a year earlier for a conservative Christian publication in which he affirmed whacking on kids, based on Biblical justification, and plumped for the idea men’s dominance over their wives and the desirability of keeping the womenfolk at home. So, basically, the guy Bush has running his child welfare agency is on the record giving a thumbs up to beating children and keeping women in the thrall of men.

Naturally, there’s been something of an uproar over Regier’s appointment. Yesterday, [Jeb] Bush, who already has enough problems, defended [Jerry] Reiger by crying bigotry, saying that there’s a “soft bigotry that is emerging against people of faith.” Of Regier himself, Bush said, “It really doesn’t matter if Jerry has a deep and abiding faith and it certainly doesn’t disqualify him for public service. I think there’s bigotry here and it troubles me.”

Well. There is indeed bigotry going on here. But it’s not that people are bigoted against fundamentalist Christians; they’re bigoted against people who advocate child beatings and spousal subjugation running a government department that’s supposed to prevent child beatings and spousal subjugation.

Scalzi’s criticism would be apt if Reiger quoted the Bible to rationalize any of a number of terrible things. But the Bible is clear about disciplining children and that wives should obey their husbands. No less “fundamentalist Christian” than that is Paul’s command to husbands to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy.” This mutual partnership is greatly at odds with the knuckle-dragging buffoon terrorizing his fearful wife and kids that Scalzi conjures up, which speaks volumes of Scalzi’s assumptions about God-fearing men, to whom he owes his rich cultural heritage.

“Keeping the womenfolk at home” is how elitist liberals view the practical arrangements and down-to-earth sobriety of intact working-class families. In much of the real world, the margin of error is small, too small for wonky experimentation. Two-parent families can’t afford to put their kids in day care. Parents correctly assume the mother, because of her natural gifts, does childcare better.

This kind of bigotry and ignorance is what earns you three Hugo Awards.

Stella Morabito explains how we will get to Brave New World:

The legal destruction of gender distinctions will inevitably dissolve family autonomy, thereby uprooting freedom of association. Free expression becomes “hate speech” if one doesn’t fall into line with the directives of the transgender lobby or its pronoun protocol. Freedom of religion takes a direct hit any way you look at it.

Under the guise of “rights,” the transgender movement can serve as convenient cover for consolidating and centralizing power under an ever-expanding State. Once we allow the State to refuse to recognize that children result from the male-female union, we grant the State more power to separate us from our children. As power becomes more centralized in the State, the individuals and institutions of the State, inevitably flawed, end up owning our personal relationships. With weakened mediating institutions—family, churches, private associations—we lose the buffer zones that stand between individuals and an encroaching state.

It goes without saying rights attending to the act of sodomy don’t exist.

Seeking to mobilize a global front against anti-gay violence and discrimination, Vice President Joe Biden declared Tuesday that protecting gay rights is a defining mark of a civilized nation and must trump national cultures and social traditions.

The “mark of a civilized nation,” or the mark of something else?

Rod Dreher has the right take on this.

President Obama begrudgingly shows he cares about Iraq:

President Obama pulled U.S. forces out of Iraq in 2011 because he couldn’t get Iraq’s parliament to offer U.S. soldiers immunity from Iraqi prosecution. But now Obama has promised to send in hundreds of special operations forces before securing even a simple promise that these soldiers will not be tried in Iraq’s famously compromised courts for actions they are taking in defense of Baghdad.

Because it was a fig leaf for wanting to withdrawal from the outset, which Obama proudly declared for years.

(Re: “Splitting Ukraine”) Before the non-military coup, it was in Ukraine’s best interest to ally with Russia instead of the West because, in the words of Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, “the Polish-US alliance isn’t worth anything.”

Deposed president Viktor Yanukovych was right.

What happens in Vegas will corrupt your soul:

“What we’re trying to do is let the gay community know that Vegas is an all-welcoming city no matter who you are and what you want to do when you come to town,” says Jim McMichael, diversity manager for the city’s Visitor’s Authority.


“The whole positioning was that Vegas doesn’t make any assumptions one way or the other,” says Arne DiGeorge, executive creative director at R&R Partners, the agency who created the ad. “It’s the Mystery of Vegas. We don’t tell people how to feel.”

Sure they do. If you disprove of state-sponsored hedonism, Vegas says you’re just being a stuck-up prude.

The article peddles the idea that gay tourism will boost Las Vegas’s coffers. That’s true to an extent, but the bigger game is in staying current with the times. Las Vegas tourism would suffer a big PR hit, and thus economic slump, if it didn’t embrace same-sex frivolity. Morals don’t serve the bottom line.

Illegal immigration kills.

About 120 undocumented immigrants per year are found dead in Brooks County, and experts say [that’s] ‘fewer than half’ of the total number of illegals who die in the isolated, sparsely populated county each summer. The bodies of the others are simply not spotted.

Ross Douthat writes:

The young migrants are not simply deceived. True, they are not currently eligible for Obama’s deportation halt, which is confined to children who arrived before June 2007. But their overwhelming numbers, and the fact that they come from so far away, will make the White House’s plans for stepped-up deportation difficult to swiftly carry out. Many of them have been menaced by gang violence in their home countries, which allows them to apply for asylum and hope to eventually win it. Others have already been released with only a court summons, and may simply decide to remain and try to stay out of law enforcement’s way.

And if they do, they will have a good chance of eventually receiving the amnesty that smugglers have promised them. If an immigration reform eventually passes under a President Hillary Clinton, today’s young border-crossers will no longer be new arrivals: They’ll have been here for several years, they’ll be sympathetic figures embedded in communities, and there will be strong, understandable pressure to allow them onto any path to citizenship.

Megan McArdle observes the financial crisis hit Millennials the hardest:

Millennials are some of the biggest victims of the financial crisis. Those without a college degree face high rates of unemployment, while those who have a sheepskin are more and more likely to be underemployed in a job that doesn’t require their degree. Even if the student loan crisis has been overstated, the rising cost of college tuition certainly doesn’t help.

Yes, kids can live through a few years’ worth of frustration; they’re young, they’ll get over it. The question is not whether it is frustrating, however, but whether it is permanent.

Uncertainty holds back risk-taking, which, as Linda McMahon put it beautifully, is what job creation is:

An entrepreneur takes a risk. He or she believes that he creates a good or service that is sold for more than it costs to make it. And if an entrepreneur thinks he can do that, he creates a job.

McMahon’s opponent in the 2010 Senate race, Dick Blumenthal, beat her by 12 points. He repeatedly lied about his military service in the ’70s, but his Democratic Party credentials more than made up for it to Connecticut voters.

In Forbes, John Tamny explains how GDP is a phony measurement:

Considering the calculation of GDP, expenditure is the most common approach; and it’s one that reveals the Enron-fiction that is GDP in living color. Once again, government spending adds to growth despite it plainly subtracting from it, and then if we import more than we export, GDP actually declines. In short, that which reduces the size of the private sector boosts economic growth in the deluded GDP sense, while that which plainly reveals a growing private sector (imports which reflect increased production stateside, and increased foreign investment in the U.S.) actually reduces the economy’s size per GDP.

In June 2008 GDP was $14.5 trillion. Six years later it’s $17 trillion, a $2.5 trillion increase. In that span, the monetary base has increased $2.7 trillion.

In other words, 108 percent of growth in the last 6 years is owed to quantitative easing. Or, we are in a 6-year depression. The multiplier effect is below one. The money isn’t moving.

Kevin Warsh and Stanley Druckenmiller opine in the Wall Street Journal:

It’s taken a full 76 months for the number of people working to get back to its previous peak, a discomfiting postwar record. Unfortunately, during the same period the U.S. working-age population increased by more than 15 million people. That’s why the share of the working-age population out of work is now at a 36-year low. There are now more Americans on disability insurance than are working in construction and education, combined.

Meanwhile, corporate chieftains rationally choose financial engineering—debt-financed share buybacks, for example—over capital investment in property, plants and equipment. Financial markets reward shareholder activism. Institutional investors extend their risk parameters to beat their benchmarks. And retail investors belatedly participate in the rising asset-price environment.

All of this lifts balance-sheet wealth, at least for a while. But real economic growth—averaging just a bit above 2% for the fifth year in a row—remains sorely lacking.

Higher asset prices are not translating into meaningful increases in capital expenditures, and the weak growth in business investment is proving to be an opportunity-killer for workers. Those with jobs have some job security. But they are less willing to run the risk of finding a better opportunity, or negotiating for higher wages.

Speaking of GDP, Reuters can’t get out of the first sentence in its report on disastrous first-quarter growth without winding up expectations for the second quarter:

The U.S. economy contracted at a much steeper pace in the first quarter than previously estimated, turning in one of its worst-ever non-recession performances, but growth already appears to have rebounded strongly.

Narrative trumps all.

“I’m a pretty traditional guy. I’m almost 60 years old. I think marriage is between a man and a woman. But again if the voters decide that they want gay marriage, I’m not going to oppose it.” –Ron Johnson

This sounds sensible, definitely more sensible than a Rob Portman-variety moral “evolution.” If the American people are bent on normalizing immorality, then a senator from Wisconsin, no matter how principled and virtuous, isn’t going to make a difference by opposing them. Only God can save us.

The Founders said our system was made for a moral, upright people. The current fracturing confirms their wisdom.

The UK Daily Mail brings you the man feminism hath wrought:

‘The baby should be sent to a nursery as soon as possible and the woman should get back to work. Aren’t women supposed to have the same aspirations in their careers as men? Then they should prove it and not expect a whole year’s maternity leave. It’s scandalous!’

What’s scandalous is that anyone is surprised by this, given this is exactly the sexless, egalitarian view feminists preach.

Wisdom from comedian Drew Carey:

I believe the answers to all the problems we face as a society won’t come from Washington, it will come from us. So the way we decide to live our lives and our decisions about what we buy or don’t buy are much more important than who we vote for.

This pro-choicer exemplifies Poe’s law:

I finished Mere Christianity. Here’s C. S. Lewis on individualism vs. totalitarianism:

Christianity thinks of human individuals not as mere members of a group or items in a list, but as organs in a body—different from one another and each contributing what no other could. When you find yourself wanting to turn your children, or pupils, or even your neighbours, into people exactly like yourself, remember that God probably never meant them to be that. You and they different organs, intended to do different things. On the other hand, when you are tempted not to bother about someone else’s troubles because they are ‘no business of yours’, remember that though he is different from you he is part of the same organism as you. If you forget that he belongs to the same organism as yourself you will become an Individualist. If you forget that he is a different organ from you, if you want to suppress differences and make people all alike, you will become a Totalitarian. But a Christian must not be either a Totalitarian or an Individualist.

I feel a strong desire to tell you—and I expect you feel a strong desire to tell me—which of these two errors is the worse. That is the devil getting at us. He always sends errors into the world in pairs—pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies upon your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors.

Gavin McInnes disputes the “myth” that things are getting worse:

The air has never been cleaner. We’ve never lived longer. Crime is at an all-time low. By virtually every possible metric, life has never been better. Yes, there was a school shooting recently. That doesn’t change the hatefact that schools have never been safer. Traveling, eating, fornicating, fighting—all safer than ever. The list goes on and on. I saw a homeless man today checking his iPhone while he asked for change! Does anyone in this country not have a TV? If you think things were so much better back then, get in a time machine and go there. Make sure you get your shots first though. God help you if you get sick.

Technology is not the only or even the best measure of humanity’s well-being. People are.

This clip should outrage you, but I spent my capacity for outrage last year, when I saw the endgame of Obama’s rewriting Obamacare. The fate of the union was at stake then. Urgency was required then. Republicans had their chance to stand with Ted Cruz, and they blew it.

On San Antonio streetcars, a sequel:

The coalition of conservatives and San Antonio Firefighters which are opposing VIA Metro Transit's plans for an expensive streetcar project are rejecting as invalid a legal opinion by City Attorney Robbie Greenblum which claims that citizens have no right to circulate a petition to scuttle the controversial downtown streetcar, 1200 WOAI news reports.

The city is relying on language in the 1977 Legislative act which created VIA Metro Transit, which gives the bus company essentially unlimited authority to operate mass transit on San Antonio City Streets without having to request approval from City Council.

The city is not exactly powerless in this situation. They appoint members to VIA’s board of trustees, on whom they can exert pressure, if they wanted to. But they don’t want to.

Our D.C.-bound mayor could issue another extralegal decree, as he did for bicycle lanes. But he doesn’t want to. Far from being hamstrung by a 37 year-old law, our leaders prefer to do what they want without the consent of the governed.

Democracy is alive and well in San Antonio.

Overstimulation and reality-skewing by technically sophisticated media are detrimental to children’s minds in their formative years. Vine is the worst of the worst. Watch a Vine compilation on YouTube and try to make it to the end without getting a headache.

Daniel J. Flynn comments on ADHD over-diagnosis:

Dr. [Richard] Saul points to iron deficiencies as a reason for many misdiagnoses. But pixilation surplus is the 51-inch gorilla in the living room. How can a teacher, or a parent, compete with screens for a child’s attention?

The onslaught of iPhones and Xboxes ensure a focus deficit because of how they affect our brains and our bodies. Shutting them off every so often, rather than turning kids on to drugs, seems a remedy worth trying. Books, which take effort, and teachers, who can drone on, can’t compete with machines that automate and outsource thinking. And kids, who need the outdoors and activity receiving instead after-school confinement and electronic stimulation, necessarily end up with a surfeit of unexpended energy as a result of digital distractions. The problem calls for parental or societal intervention.

Changes in habit and diet can go a long way.

On a somewhat related note, one Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church, I heard a financial advisor on the radio say you are naïve if:

  • Your mindset isn’t to game the system;

  • You pay down your debt instead of getting a big, fat 30-year mortgage that you’ll never be able to pay off; and

  • You don’t live for today.

It was financial advice for the Vine generation. Here’s some better advice: Don’t borrow against tomorrow what you can borrow from today.

That was fun.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Warm fuzzies

Of course John Scalzi wrote a favorable blurb for Tobias Buckell’s ideological, poorly written Arctic Rising. They serve the same master—and I don’t mean Tor Books.

Here’s Scalzi on Wednesday’s same-sex marriage double-whammy:

Yay! Same sex marriages begin in Indiana and the 10th Circuit Court punts Utah’s ban as unconstitutional, a decision that as I understand it has implications for all the states in the circuit! I’m not gonna lie, I like being on the right side of history on this one, and it’s all happening much quicker than I would have suspected—which means still too slow but even so.

History isn’t linear. Declaring oneself on the “right side” of it at any time is short-sighted. Christianity was on the wrong side of history, until Constantine. Napoleon was on the right side of history, until Waterloo.

Wasn’t Socrates on the wrong side of history? He was executed a thousand years before his legacy took off. History’s verdict was little comfort to him as poison slowly crept through his body towards his heart.

Shallow men revel in how they’re remembered. Real men revel in doing right and good. Unraveling the social institution that men and women have relied on for thousands of years to raise families in is not right or good. Where marriage culture is weak, social dysfunction reigns and children suffer for want of their parents’ fidelity. The only upside of marriage redefinition is the warm fuzzies it gives Scalzi et al.

Imagine the warm fuzzies Aaron must have felt when he told the Israelites yes, they could worship the golden calf; or the Grand Inquisitor when he removed the Christians’ burden to answer the call of the cross. Personal rewards abound for the one with low expectations for his fellow man, while fellow man falls short of his destiny. Better to have never tried than tried and failed, am I right?

In times of choosing, giving people what they want is the easy way out. Give people what they want, and bask in their sedate gratitude. Give them what they need, wise instruction, and bear their wrath.

The “right side of history” is vanity, plain and simple.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Salvation in choice

John Paulk explains what it was like to be “converted” to heterosexuality:

We know our orientation hasn’t really changed. What has changed is our behavior. Our way of life. How we see ourselves. Our sexuality has not changed.

Bingo. To varying degrees we all are naturally disposed to one thing or another that God abhors. Our training is in modifying our behavior, our choices. Practice proves that repetition physically strengthens neural pathways in the brain, reinforcing predilection for chosen habits. As C. S. Lewis writes: “Morality is concerned with the acts of choice themselves.”

But then Paulk lost faith, and he got some bad advice.

The older I got, the lonelier I was becoming. Three years ago, I was driving down a suburban street and I saw two men holding hands. I burst into tears. I realized that ... I wanted to be one of those men. I knew my decision would hurt my wife and family, but I began to move toward authenticity. I went to see a therapist—a conservative Christian therapist. I told him, “I’m on a journey of self-discovery.” He said he didn’t believe that you had to change fundamentally who you are to be acceptable to God. I began to embrace what I had been all along.

Baptism is to share in Jesus’ death on the cross, to die to oneself. You’re the same person, but you let God inside you to reclaim His creation, which had fallen away in sin. In that sense you are changed fundamentally. The transformation doesn’t happen on its own or even right away, but that doesn’t change its necessity or its import on the individual.

The life takes faith and discipline. It’s supposed to be hard, but not impossible. We wouldn’t freely let God in if living for Him was impossible. On the other hand, if living for God was easy, it wouldn’t be much of a choice, would it?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


I gave Arctic Rising the scathing review it deserved, and it caught the author’s attention.

As of today, 2 of 31 people found the review helpful. The others I need to work harder to reach.

Tobias Buckell got to where he is by serving political correctness in his writing. The inclusion of a lesbian protagonist in Arctic Rising wasn’t necessary to the plot. The role should have gone to a man, as Anika’s character traits befit a man’s physicality and emotions. But Buckell went the “empowering female lead” route, and then some. The choice illustrated a lack of taste and, particularly, shallowness; so his hysterics over this phony, hockey stick-like representation of school shooting incidents over the past 25 years is no surprise.

The information for the graph was compiled on Wikipedia, which under-reports school shootings before the proliferation of archived and searchable digital media, and over-reports shootings in which no one died. For example, under the heading “List of U.S. school attacks,” Wikipedia shows no school attacks occurred between 1927 and 1966. It shows 5 school attacks in November 2013, a 233,900 percent increase in the rate of school attacks.

In half of the 14 school shooting incidents Wikipedia recorded in 2012, no one died. Of the 7 incidents that involved student deaths, the death tolls were as follows: 1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 7, 28. If not for the neglected and mentally ill Adam Lanza, 2012 would have been a relatively quiet year in school shootings.

In the majority of incidents recorded so far in 2014, zero people died. Of the 3 incidents that involved more than 1 student death, the death tolls were as follows: 2, 2, 7. In all 3 incidents, the murderer committed suicide. And the worst incident by far (sociopath Elliot Rodger’s murder spree) occurred off-campus, and half the murders were committed with a knife.

1999, a down year with only 5 school shooting incidents recorded, was marred by the infamous Little, Colorado, attack. Thirteen students were murdered and 21 were wounded in that incident alone. 2007 was another down year, but had one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history: Virginia Tech. Seung-Hui Cho was mentally ill, too.

Wikipedia’s crack team of criminologists doesn’t parse the school shooting data among students who snap, gang-related shootings, shootings that happen off-campus, and shootings that coincidentally happen outside the building. They don’t even parse out the terrorist Tsarnaev brothers’ getaway from police that resulted in the deaths of an MIT campus police officer and the elder brother.

Not often noted is that 100 percent of shooting sprees end with the murderer taking his life or others subduing him with superior firepower.

Violent crime has been ebbing since the ’90s. There is no spike in mass shootings. In fact, given the 30 percent increase in population since the ’70s, mass shootings aren’t even keeping pace.

“Why, then, is there such a powerful feeling that things are getting worse? Media coverage plays a big role. It’s almost hard to believe today, but there was a time in the not too distant past when people in New York might not even hear about a school shooting that happened across the country. Today, every incident immediately explodes onto the national stage and is then amplified a millionfold by social media. It’s a visceral example of the availability heuristic—the easier it is for us to think of a certain type of event (whether a school shooting or a plane crash), the higher we rate its probability. But this is an illusion; just because it’s easier than it ever has been to think of an example of a shooting doesn't mean these events are more likely than they were in the past.” –Jesse Singal

We giggle at pictures of schoolchildren ducking underneath their desks in the ’50s. If we didn’t live in the paranoia-drenched environment of today, our reaction to pictures of schoolchildren huddled underneath bullet-proof blankets would be similar.

Buckell’s simple-minded liberalism is characterized by fear of straw-bogeymen like global warming, heterofascism, and gun-crazy narcissists, protection from whom he expects government to provide. Integrating these themes into one’s writing is unwise, as they place further limits on limited talent.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Paradox of authority

Rep. Trey Gowdy grills lackadaisical IRS Commissioner John Koskinen:

“What criminal statutes you have evaluated?”

“I have not looked at any,” the IRS commissioner admitted.

“Well then how can you possibly tell our fellow citizens that there is no criminal wrongdoing if you don’t even know what statutes to look at?” Gowdy followed-up.

“Because I’ve seen no evidence that anyone consciously—”

“Well how would you know what elements of the crime existed? You don’t even know what statutes are in play.”

Investigations tend to come up empty when you don’t actually investigate.

Recall last year FBI Director Robert Mueller didn’t know who from his office was investigating the IRS a month after they supposedly launched an investigation. Investigations are existentially contingent on there being investigators. If the investigators don’t exist, the investigation doesn’t exist.

If it were 2011, there might be a greater effort to save face for the voters’ benefit. Regardless, unmoored, big government looks out for number one, so it naturally runs operations against Constitutionalists.

Victor Davis Hanson writes:

Under Lois Lerner, the IRS’s tax-exemption division targeted conservative groups to defang them before the 2012 election—and then attempted to cover up that perversion of the agency. Lerner herself pled the Fifth Amendment, and now we learn that much of her key e-mail correspondence mysteriously disappeared from her computer. E-mail records from six other IRS officials of interest likewise vanished. The IRS also improperly handed over tax files of particular groups to the FBI for investigation. It is no exaggeration to state that the IRS has now surrendered its reputation as an impartial agency and lost the public trust.

Michael Gerson amplifies on that theme:

When the stewards of power—biased judges, or corrupt policemen, or politically motivated IRS officials—act unfairly, it undermines trust in the whole system.

Trust in the federal government declined dramatically since the 1960s. Some Americans are now predisposed to believe that their government—the product of their own choices, channeled by durable, admirable institutions—can’t be trusted with the collection of metadata, or with the use of drones (which might be employed by the president, according to Sen. Rand Paul, to kill citizens at cafes).

In the past, I’ve often criticized such attitudes as conspiratorial and destructive. A democracy needs respected, capable public institutions. No traditional conservative, in this sense, can be anti-government. We need government to do its job, to play its role and to justify the power and resources we properly cede to it. “Respect for its authority,” said George Washington, “compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty.”

But the IRS has managed to feed anti-government sentiments by inhabiting anti-government stereotypes. It has undermined respect for authority.

Authority is somewhat of a misnomer here. Public servants earn the public’s trust and respect through regular demonstrations of competence, diligence, and virtue. It wields power only as long as those whom who are wielded over consent. We let them tell us what to do as long as we agree with what they tell us to do.

This point goes further than Lois Lerner and the IRS. The halls of power are filled with people who were put there by people who do not trust them.

The authority losing the public’s trust and respect is not the public servant, but the public itself. Some say diversity is strength. If anything, it’s difference and disagreement. Liberal, tolerant society can undergo so much disagreement over fundamental truths before it fractures.

UPDATE (7/3): Last night Bruce Utley gave a talk to my church about Psalm 2. He dropped this brilliant line about authority:

Authority is established when someone is able to elicit compliance because others want to follow.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Marijuana good, tobacco bad

“Today’s proponents of liberated personal life will be tomorrow’s advocates of state-sponsored paternalism.” –R. R. Reno

Major League Baseball’s considering banning chewing tobacco and New York’s considering legalizing weed are a perfect illustration of categorical confusion. After trolling tobacco for years, warning of the dangers of secondhand smoke from cigarettes, liberals are championing marijuana. Are they high or have they lost their minds?

The war on tobacco is not about public health. It’s about liberals fulfilling a fantasy of themselves as liberators of the working class. Liberals see their affinity for cigarettes and imagine they’re being exploited by “Big Tobacco.” Cigarette bans set them up to be heroes in their own eyes, when all they really do is jack up the price of cigarettes and put bars out of business.

States and cities across the country are placing similar restrictions on e-cigarettes, which produce no secondhand smoke, but a benign vapor. Their rational is the image of someone smoking—not the smoke, but the image—presents a public health risk:

“I have no doubt that there are some people who will benefit from e-cigarette use. Unfortunately, I am equally certain that there are people for whom the visible presence of e-cigarettes in their lives is an impediment to their healthy goals.” –Dr. Frank Leone, Penn Lung Center

“These are being touted as safer than cigarettes, but we don’t really know that. Just seeing people smoking things that look identical to cigarettes in subway cars, colleges and public libraries will tend to re-normalize the act of smoking and send the wrong message to kids.” –New York City Councilman James Gennaro

Government’s goals are explicit regarding tobacco. It isn’t minding how one person’s choice affects another. It is actively involved in that choice when it affects no one else.

Legal weed inspires no such liberal hand-wringing, because there’s no “Big Marijuana” business lobby to terrorize, and because weed is the new boss’s (same as the old boss) preferred escape from his generation’s failures. They don’t think to view their relationship with marijuana the same way, even though its effects on the mind are worse. Marijuana is a legitimate lifestyle choice made in complete sobriety and freedom, so it goes—unless it’s your kids threatening to throw their lives away, if Colorado drug dealer Jane West is to be believed:

It’s not surprising that Colorado mom Jane West has some firm ideas about her boys smoking pot.

“Absolutely not! Absolutely not!” she said.

What may be surprising is that this mom is on a marijuana mission, making the pot business women-friendly, reports CBS News’ Barry Petersen.

She runs her own startup company staging marijuana-themed social events like the recent Colorado Symphony fundraiser billed as BYOP, or “Bring Your Own Pot.” She also started a group called Women Grow where women can network with other women in the marijuana business.

There she met Genifer Murray who founded a marijuana testing company called CannLabs Inc. that went public last week.

“Like any other business, it’s hard, and tack marijuana on it and it’s even harder, and add on the fact that it’s a male-dominated industry, so I think we found comfort in each other,” Murray said.

Equality in the pursuit of something terrible doesn’t make it less terrible.

Further reading: “Just 1 gram and you won’t give a damn.”

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Odds and ends 6/18/2014

I’ve been looking for this quote for years, and I happened across it in ESPN’s NBA Finals coverage:

“You don’t deserve anything. You just go play. You start thinking about what you deserve and what you don’t deserve and it just makes you soft.” –Gregg Popovich

That girl in biology lab doesn’t want what you can give. That literary agent doesn’t want what you can give. It doesn’t matter if you’re a “good guy” or a hard worker. Earthly rewards are given on the basis of what people who have what others want value highest.

I wrote last year:

Many good and worthy people suffer wants that cruel and dishonest people can’t imagine. In this fallen world, virtue is not rewarded so much as value.

The question of “deserving” can tie us in knots and leave us envious and resentful. A better question to ask is: What have I earned?

The best stories end with the good guys and the bad guys getting what they deserve. That almost never happens, which is why it makes for good fantasy. But when it does happen in real life, it’s wonderful. Kevin Arnovitz writes:

Another title for the Spurs confirms a bunch of optimistic beliefs about the way the world should work: process matters more than politics; people should be valued for what they can do rather than what they can’t; a meritocracy can thrive if it values the right things.

Spurs-related gem:

“To be one of these Spurs is to sacrifice the self for the team, to give over getting.” –Jonathan Abrams

When the welfare state fails, the institutions that people historically turn to in desperate times—family, church, community—won’t be there for them, because the state with a God complex destroyed them and annexed their social-material functions.

I’m reading a pretty bad sci-fi book called Arctic Rising, and was stunned to read this:

There had been protests and some strikes by international workers who ran out of their three-month stays, demanding to be treated fairly and given a chance to apply to become Greenlanders, but the Greenlanders didn’t want to become minorities in their own country. And they were First Nations peoples. They’d seen the rush to Northern Canada’s newly opened and ice-free land displace enough Inuit there. They knew history. They were nervous, and as a result, Greenland remained obstinate about the three-month stay.

The fictional Greenland would benefit economically from all the new workers, as it is still mostly an unsettled country and rich in natural resources uncovered by melting glaciers. The situation in fictional Greenland is more apropos of mass immigration than the present United States, which has no national need for foreign workers.

At Taki’s Magazine, Gavin McInnes writes a Clancy-esque short story of how the Bowe Bergdahl swap should have gone down.

Jill Filipovic is good at one thing: playing the role of “woman who’s wrong on everything.” She’s expanded that role into TV. Fast-forward to 3:20 for a delicious moment.

“Sexual orientation is a pretty new concept,” Matthew Vines says. New and completely bogus. All of us have “natural” impulses that, indulged, lead to perversion. The aspect of sexuality that matters to society is behavioral, and that is a matter of choice.

Fertility doesn’t lie. Joseph Lawler of the Washington Examiner reports:

Demographers expected the fertility rate to fall during recession, as financially strapped families put off childbearing. But what has surprised some demographers is both the depth of the decline and the fact that fertility has continued to drop even over the course of the country’s five years of slow but steady recovery.

What recovery?

By the way, there’s a negative correlation between student loan debt and family formation.

Carl’s Jr. CEO editorializes on the job market:

The bottom line on labor: Make something less expensive and businesses will use more of it. Make something more expensive and businesses will use less of it. The Congressional Budget Office has forecast a loss of 500,000 jobs should the president’s proposal to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour become law.

The CBO also forecast that this increase would lift a number of people who already have jobs above the poverty threshold. For 500,000 unemployed people, however, that’s 500,000 opportunities American businesses will never create.

ObamaCare is also increasing the cost of hiring inexperienced workers. The health-care law requires that businesses with more than 50 full-time employees offer medical insurance to employees working 30 or more hours a week. The administration knows that the employer mandate will kill jobs and has twice delayed implementing it. With an election on the horizon, American businesses know that these delays were political and that the mandate’s economically damaging impact is in the pipeline, coming their way.

ObamaCare gives businesses an incentive to either eliminate entry-level jobs or keep the workers’ hours to under 30 a week. It also gives businesses a reason to reduce the hours of experienced employees to under 30 a week. These experienced employees are now working second jobs to compensate for their lost hours—resulting in fewer positions for less-experienced workers.

To get on the ladder of opportunity, America’s young people need jobs. Creating disincentives to hire them diminishes the notion that “if you work hard and take responsibility, you can get ahead.” The reality is that you can’t get ahead if you can’t find a job.

The only “science” President Obama cares about is the tripe he uses to justify statist interventions. Pretentiousness and incompetence combine to make an impenetrable idiocy. Bloomberg reports:

“The question is not whether we need to act” on climate change, Obama said. “The overwhelming judgment of science, accumulated and measured and reviewed over decades, has put that question to rest. The question is whether we have the will to act before it’s too late.”


“When President Kennedy set us on a course for the moon, there were a number of people who made a serious case that it wouldn’t be worth it,” Obama said. “But nobody ignored the science. I don’t remember anyone saying the moon wasn’t there, or that it was made of cheese.”

I admit the fact of fabricated data, just as I admit the fact of the moon’s existence. Obama is the denier. He denies the fact of fabricated data. He’s the straw man who disbelieves the moon exists.

By the way, he has the gift of 50 years of hindsight and still gets it wrong. Going to the moon wasn’t worth it. It would have been worth it if we established a moon base or continued on to Mars, if we had something more than Velcro to show for it. But we lost interest in the moon in the ’70s, and now we rely on the Russians to ferry us to the space station.

Obama prepares for his photo op.

The Hill reports:

The White House will honor 10 young adults on Tuesday who came to the United States illegally and qualified for the president’s program to defer deportation actions.

Each person has qualified for the government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, which delays removal proceedings against them as long as they meet certain guidelines.

They will be honored as “Champions of Change,” the White House said in a statement Monday because they “serve as success stories and role models in their academic and professional spheres.”

They emigrated from Mexico, Colombia, Morocco, India, Taiwan and the Philippines, and many of them work in professions related to immigration policy or have helped launch initiatives that promote reform.

In 2012, President Obama created the program through an executive order, which defers any action on the status of people who came to the U.S. illegally as children for two years and can be renewed. It doesn’t provide any legal status.

People who qualify include those who came to the U.S. before turning 16, resided in the U.S. continuously since 2007 and people who are either currently in school, have graduated or received a certificate of completion for high school or were honorably discharged from the military.

Program recipients also cannot have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor or three or more misdemeanors.

So, to qualify as a “champion,” you need to illegally immigrate to America, enroll in free school, receive a free diploma, and be convicted of breaking the law only twice.

I took this interesting quiz for both Maryland, my old stomping grounds, and Texas. The best places for me ideologically in those states are Accident, Maryland, in the secessionist half of that state, and Doss, Texas. Both are real small towns. I reversed my responses to the prompts and received Takoma Park, Maryland, outside D.C., and Elsa, Texas, in the Valley, as presumably the worst places for me.

Out of curiosity, I took the test again for Maryland, this time aligning my religious observance with what it was during the time I lived in Maryland: none. The best place for me then was Little Orleans, and the worst was Mitchellville. Interesting thing about Little Orleans: I hiked in the area along Fifteenmile Creek in March 2012. It was a fun hike involving creek fords, steep hills, the Potomac River, ticks, and snakes. In the aerial photo above, you can see Long Pond as a dark blue gash in the hills north of the Potomac. Below are some pictures I took on that hike.

Communist goals, excerpted from the 1963 Congressional record:

  1. Control art critics and directors of art museums. “Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art.”

  2. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.

  3. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.

  4. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”

  5. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.”

  6. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.”

  7. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.

I would say they succeeded.

Notice the disagreement is not over belief, but whether belief should inform policy. What makes the Republican Party so untrustworthy is the dissonance between belief and policy. Is marriage what it is, or isn’t it?

The Washington Times reports the Nevada GOP is going full libertarian:

“The removal of two social issues from our platform does not mean that ‘we’ as individual people are ‘for’ gay marriage or ‘for’ abortion,” the email said. “The removal of these planks recognizes the inappropriateness of the existence of these planks in our platform in the first place.”

“We disagree with Committeewoman McLarty where she said ‘They are symptoms of the infiltration of the Republican Party by those who really want to destroy it,’ “ it said.

The delegation also took issue with Mrs. McLarty, an evangelical Protestant and staunch opponent of abortion, calling its action an “attack on God and family.”

“We are insulted by this accusation. Most of our delegates have deep spiritual beliefs,” the Nevada email said.

Grass-roots Republicans themselves are divided over whether abortion should be banned nationally by a constitutional amendment or whether it’s a matter of states’ discretion.

The Texas GOP, I’m relieved to say, is headed in a more promising direction.

C. S. Lewis on morality:

Morality, then, seems to be concerned with three things. Firstly, with fair play and harmony between individuals. Secondly, with what might be called tidying up or harmonising the things inside each individual. Thirdly, with the general purpose of human life as a whole: what man was made for: what course the whole fleet ought to be on: what tune the conductor of the band wants it to play.

You may have noticed that modern people are nearly always thinking about the first thing and forgetting the other two. When people say in the newspapers that we are striving for Christian moral standards, they usually mean that we are striving for kindness and fair play between nations, and classes, and individuals; that is, they are thinking only of the first thing. When a man says about something he wants to do, “It can’t be wrong because it doesn’t do anyone else any harm,” he is thinking only of the first thing. He is thinking it does not matter what the ship is like inside provided that he does not run into the next ship. And it is quite natural, when we start thinking about morality, to begin with the first thing, with social relations. For one thing, the results of bad morals in that sphere are so obvious and press on us every day: war and poverty and graft and lies and shoddy work. And also, as long as you stick to the first thing, there is very little disagreement about morality. Almost all people at all times have agreed (in theory) that human beings ought to be honest and kind and helpful to one another. But though it is natural to begin with all that, if our thinking about morality stops there, we might just as well not have thought at all. Unless we go on to the second thing—the tidying up inside each human being—we are only deceiving ourselves.

What is the good of telling the ships how to steer so as to avoid collisions if, in fact, they are such crazy old tubs that they cannot be steered at all? What is the good of drawing up, on paper, rules for social behaviour, if we know that, in fact, our greed, cowardice, ill temper, and self-conceit are going to prevent us from keeping them? I do not mean for a moment that we ought not think, and think hard, about improvements in our social and economic system. What I do mean is that all that thinking will be mere moonshine unless we realise that nothing but the courage and unselfishness of individuals is ever going to make any system work properly. It is easy enough to remove the particular kinds of graft or bullying that go on under the present system: but as long as men are twisters or bullies they will find some new way of carrying on the old game under the new system. You cannot make men good by law: and without good men you cannot have a good society. That is why we must go on to think of the second thing: of morality inside the individual.

C. S. Lewis on pride:

Many a man has overcome cowardice or lust or ill temper by learning to think they are beneath his dignity—that is, by pride. The devil laughs. He is perfectly content to see you becoming chaste and brave and self-controlled provided all the time he is setting up in you the dictatorship of pride.

Beware Nietzsche in this respect.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Crutch for regression

Charles Murray reviews A Troublesome Inheritance by Nicholas Wade:

The reigning intellectual orthodoxy is that race is a “social construct,” a cultural artifact without biological merit.

The orthodoxy’s equivalent of the Nicene Creed has two scientific tenets. The first, promulgated by geneticist Richard Lewontin in “The Apportionment of Human Diversity” (1972), is that the races are so close to genetically identical that “racial classification is now seen to be of virtually no genetic or taxonomic significance.” The second, popularized by the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, is that human evolution in everything but cosmetic differences stopped before humans left Africa, meaning that “human equality is a contingent fact of history,” as he put it in an essay of that title in 1984.

Since the sequencing of the human genome in 2003, what is known by geneticists has increasingly diverged from this orthodoxy, even as social scientists and the mainstream press have steadfastly ignored the new research.

Race is a social construct—a crutch for regression—in the sense that Bill Clinton is the first black president and Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is too white.

If human equality is not a contingent fact of history, does that change whether equality is a contingent fact of morality? I don’t mean equality of outcomes, but equality before God and before the law. To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, morality isn’t concerned with the raw materials of an individual, such as DNA. Morality is concerned with behavior, what you do with what you have.

Skin pigment is but one difference—an especially superficial difference—among an infinite number of differences among individuals and groups of individuals. Jesus came to reconcile all differences of men, even between Jew and Gentile. Identity matters little to the grace we are commanded to show our neighbors.

Tim Duncan’s swan song

Without a doubt the greatest reward of the Spurs winning the NBA championship is that, with all the accolades and praise being heaped on Tim Duncan, maybe more people look at him and are inspired by what I and others admire deeply: a hard worker, a humble talent, a terrific basketball player, and a dedicated teammate; someone worthy of emulation.

When the Spurs won the NBA Finals by taking game 5, it felt twice as nice, because we weren’t just celebrating 2014. We were also celebrating 2013.

“We were a few seconds away from winning the championship and we let it go. ... We were in a great spot. We just gave them another chance and it hurts because it’s one of those moments where you’re going to be thinking about what we could have done better in the last few possessions, so many times, all night long, all tomorrow, until the next game. It’s terrible.” –Manu Ginobili

After 2013’s game 7 loss, Manu wasn’t sure if he would be with the team again. Retirement at the ripe age (by basketball standards) of 35 looked like a real possibility. Then, this:

Given his lengthy history of injuries and erratic performance in the playoffs, Ginobili wasn’t sure whether the Spurs wanted him back after last season’s performance. It took Spurs general manager RC Buford less than six minutes July 1 when the market opened to tell Ginobili that he was wanted and needed.

“That’s all I wanted to hear,” said Ginobili, who signed a two-year, $14.5 million deal. “After the finals, (I wanted to know and) understand they really wanted me back. Once I heard that, I said, ‘OK.’”

The Spurs’ last three championships have come after heartbreak. The 2005 title was preceded by the Spurs’ 2004 postseason effectively ending on a miracle Derek Fisher shot that my friend, who is a Lakers fan, and I still argue about. A year before the 2007 title, Manu fouled Dirk Nowitzki on a layup, sending game 7 into overtime, which they lost. Finally, before 2014 culminated, the Spurs gave up a 5-point lead with 28 seconds left in game 6 to the Heat, lost in overtime, then lost game 7. “Five-point lead” and “point-four seconds” are curse words in San Antonio because of the dark places Spurs fans went to to deal with losing so spectacularly.

Caleb J. Saen explains the catharsis:

I have been fortunate to see a lot of big playoff games in the last six seasons. I was in the arena for the insane Gary Neal shot against Memphis in 2011. I was there for Manu Ginobili’s game-sealing three in double overtime last season. I got to witness Danny Green’s explosion during last year’s Finals and was part of a cheering crowd as Manu Ginobili pushed through Game 5 to give the Spurs a 3-2 lead heading to Miami. None of those experiences compared to the sound of last night’s game. It was deafening. At one point, my friend Jacob leaned over to tell me something, and I couldn’t hear a thing. I felt like Tom Hanks in the opening of Saving Private Ryan, ears ringing as the roaring chaos of a thousand screams beat against my ears. It was pure, raw energy, coursing through rows and rows of fans, exchanging knowing glances, shouting with abandon. I finally heard what Jacob was saying. He was telling me, “release.” That was it. That’s what we were hearing. Thousands of broken hearts being mended, the pain of last year’s Finals replaced with the living memory of a title. I don’t know that I’ll ever feel that again.

The 2014 championship is bittersweet for me. Sweet because championships validate a fan’s investment over the years. Bitter because I fear I may have just watched Tim Duncan, my idol since I was 17, play his last game. Part of me doesn’t want it to be over. But another part of me knows that championships are hard to get, and this is the best way for it to end.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Platform “purists”

These two articles appeared next to each other on the News Radio 1200 WOAI website.

First: “Open Rebellion in Texas GOP Over Extremist Party Platform.” Dallas lawyer/Republican State Rep. Jason Villalba ridicules Texas Republicans’ “extremism,” especially on illegal immigration. He agrees with serial panderer Rand Paul that “we gotta get past deportation.”

“It is clear to me that if we seek to win the future Hispanic vote, we should at least be cordial to our neighbors from the south,” Villalba wrote. “Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic in Texas. If we are unable to win a significant proportion of the future Hispanic vote, our Grand Old Party is only a few election cycles away from perishing in Texas.”

This would distress a party man. To folks to whom parties are a tool to inflict political will, it’s not distressing in the least.

We can’t follow the law and deport illegal aliens because it would offend... whom? Non-voting illegal aliens? Law-abiding Hispanics? Liberals? Vallalba belongs in the Democratic Party, the natural choice for Dallas lawyers.

Villalba expanded on his claims, saying he ‘can’t understand’ how the Texas Republican Party got to this point.

“It just became clear to me that we are beginning to lose the party of Reagan, and become something much different, and I thought that was reason enough to really step out and say something about what I see happening, he said.

Reagan told his trusted advisor Ed Meese the 1986 amnesty was the biggest mistake of his presidency.

Villalba quoted a famous line from President Reagan to blast those with ‘rigid and regressive’ political positions. He pointed out that Reagan once said that politics involves ‘making sure that your 80% friend doesn’t become your 20% enemy.’

But on that 20 percent, someone has to yield. It shouldn’t be Republican tactics to arbitrarily yield fights ahead of time, John Boehner’s House speakership aside.

Among Texas Republicans’ sins is endorsing reparative therapy for gays, which Chris Christie outlawed in New Jersey, to Paul Singer’s delight. Only on the assumption that homosexuality is okay is therapy for gays controversial. Our society has no trouble calling alcoholism bad and any road to recovery from alcoholism good. Alcoholics are no less “born that way” than other sin lobbies, they’re just politically disorganized.

Next: “Evangelical Hispanic Christians to Push for Immigration Reform.” This article reveals Vallalba was projecting the wrong way on his “80/20” lecture. It’s actually pro-amnesty groups who administer litmus tests on Republican candidates.

The Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which has been very active in pro-life and so-called ‘Promise Keepers’ movements, the foundation of conservative Christian evangelism, says it will push its parishioners to get active in support of comprehensive immigration reform.

“We will not vote for a candidate who is not supportive of comprehensive immigration reform,” The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who heads the HCLC, told 1200 WOAI news.

“Reform” telegraphs to Mexico and Central America that de facto American citizenship is up for grabs. “Reform” entices families to split up on the off chance they’ll be reunited in America. “Reform” means America assimilating to foreigners, not the other way around. “Reform” depresses wages.

None of this is compassionate, but this is the way of the bleeding heart. Enforcement would go a long way towards preventing the humanitarian crisis in South Texas. Instead of giving illegal alien children a one-way ticket home, Attorney General Eric Holder wants to give them pro bono legal representation:

“How we treat those in need, particularly young people who must appear in immigration proceedings—many of whom are fleeing violence, persecution, abuse, or trafficking—goes to the core of who we are as a nation.” –Eric Holder, June 6, 2014

What he doesn’t tell you is most of said abuse occurs en route to America, in the possession of drug runners moonlighting as human traffickers.

President Obama and Holder stage photo ops at the White House with illegal aliens, but the social carnage their policies create don’t affect their ivory towers in Chicago and D.C.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Down goes Mosul

General Petraeus thought he had a successful war strategy for the 21st century, but nothing is quite as effective as killing the bad guys and scaring the fight out of fence sitters. The real test of Petraeus’s post-Vietnam strategy of gaining the locals’ trust and empowering them to self-rule was Iraqis’ ability to sustain peace and democracy on their own once American troops left and stopped bribing the Arab clans to not fight each other.

Fallujah, which was the site of the most intense fighting during the Iraq campaign, fell in January. Dan Murphy writes in the Christian Science Monitor:

Most of the Shiite Islamist politicians who lead Iraq today lost multiple friends and family members in a crackdown, brutal even for the Hussein regime, on underground Shiite political movements after the first Gulf War. Today they view securing the political and military ascendancy of their sect as the top priority.

The Sunni Arabs of Anbar, who were bought off with state largesse during the Baath years, are viewed by Maliki and other leading Shiites as a potential threat to this goal. His government’s systematic persecution of prominent Sunni Arab political figures is a key reason that ISIS has such a strong opening in Iraq right now.

Saddam Hussein was an authoritarian and a tyrant, but he suppressed Iraq’s internal divisions and kept the country stable, a valuable service considering its strategic location and sketchy neighbors, and something Arab democracy has failed to do. Basher al-Assad and Muammar Gadhafi, detestable as they were, performed similar functions in Syria and Lybia. There was no civil tradition the people could lean on once those yawning power vacuums were created, so those countries degenerated into chaos.

Contrary to his folk-hero status prior to cheating on his wife, Petraeus’s most well-known achievement and claim to fame is ultimately a failure. Now Mosul has fallen to Islamists.

Iraq’s speaker of parliament, Osama Nujaifi, said Mosul, the effective capital of northern Iraq, is now entirely in insurgent hands.

“When the battle got tough in the city of Mosul, the troops dropped their weapons and abandoned their posts, making it an easy prey for the terrorists,” he told a televised news conference in Baghdad.

Democracy is fine for people who get along with each other. But for people who don’t, democracy is just another means to power. When those means fail them, they look for other means, like violence and terrorism.

Monday, June 9, 2014


“O Lord,

“I worshiped You. I followed the commandments. I struggled and sacrificed to be counted among Your favored people. I resisted temptation and idolatry. I suffered others’ fornications of the flesh and I begrudged their wantonness. Time and I again I consoled myself with Your word, Your law, Your wisdom, which resounds with the warning to man: The world is deceptive. It is fleeting. Those who put their stock in the world will perish like the dust. The world is unlike You, Lord, who are everlasting and the rock upon which I build.

“How did you reward my faith? By sending me to that snake pit, Nineveh. How could I witness against such a place as beyond redemption as Nineveh? How could I remain faithful to You where wickedness runs through the gutters and drips from the doors like rain? By showing the Ninevites mercy, You show none for me.

“I ran. Yes, I was angry and afraid. You asked too much of me. Then You sent the storm and the great fish. You saved me out of the sea to do Your will as You commanded me.

“So, I traveled to Nineveh. I proclaimed the inevitable destruction of that place. No other fate did it deserve, and no other place did deserve it more. I proclaimed Your wrath would come and render judgment, that the people’s sins would be repaid by the stars falling from the sky and the mountains covering the plain, vindicating those who remain strong in the faith.

“Cruel, inscrutable Lord, why did You spare them?! Why did You forgive their sins when all they have done is mock You? Even now they mock You with their shows of penitence. I cannot bear sharing the same fate as those adulterers and thieves who have converted in the 11th hour. I cannot bear the humiliation of proclaiming Your message only to be countermanded by Your caprice.

“You demand the impossible, and as recompense for doing Your will, You demand the more impossible yet! I burn with anger. It consumes me. I cannot breathe. Please, Lord, let me die!”

“You have no right to be angry, Jonah, My child. You presume to know My will, when My will is infinite. It is through your witness the Ninevites repented and worship Me. A jewel in My kingdom rises from the blight of sin that Nineveh once was.

“Are you Noah, blameless among the people? Are you not a sinner in the eyes of the Lord? You know well I extend My mercy to your brothers the Ninevites, as I extend My mercy to you.”

Friday, June 6, 2014

Odds and ends 6/6/2014

Last year, the Daily Beast reported on GOP donors Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer’s multiculturalism:

What do major Republican donors like Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer have in common with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi? They are all in favor of immigration reform.

Billionaire hedge fund manager Singer is also behind the Republican push for same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, Adelson is vetting Republican presidential candidates and, according to his close associate, Victor Chaltiel, “wants someone who has the chance to win the election, who is reasonable in his positions, who has convictions but is not totally crazy.”

Glenn Fairman writes at American Thinker:

Beneath the Humanist quest for man’s autonomy is a covert aversion to the enchanted quality of life—a seething passion that undergirds their rejection of the natural and embrace of the artificial. This is not to say that the liberal consciousness despises the natural world: for in fact, they are quite comfortable in its qualified deification. What they do detest is the idea of a sovereign sustaining Deity superior to and giving transcendent value to what is highest in nature.

If there was an objective morality, how would we know it? We need God to reveal His will to us.

Citi’s Peter D’Antonio spins the disastrous Q1 GDP revision:

“Although this was only the second negative print of the expansion, we do not believe it was a harbinger of a slowdown or problems in the economy. Instead, we think the weakness reflected weather distortions that hampered activity.”

(Note Paul Ashworth’s prediction of 3.5 percent growth in the second quarter.)

GDP doesn’t track with temperature. The winter of 1980 was just as cold, and the economy grew 1.3 percent.

Most economists are communicating D’Antonio’s sentiment. And most reiterate that Q1 GDP is old news since that quarter ended in March and we have two months of encouraging Q2 data.

“The economy likely will rebound sharply in the second quarter, and the data show that this in fact is already happening,” said D’Antonio. “So we are viewing the second pass at GDP as old news, even if the economy shrank in the quarter.”

The more accurate revision always gets less publicity than the initial estimate.

ZeroHedge provides this stunning graphic of economists’ expectations consistently beating the market.

I should have majored in Making Bad Predictions.

James Longstreet writes at the American Thinker:

Confiscatory monetary policies to take from some to ensure the bets of others. No longer a “free market” but a centrally planned affair. As in all central planning, some are chosen to benefit, others to be harmed.

The monies to be theoretically pushed out of deposits will likely continue to find their way to speculative endeavors. The velocity of money, or the rate that money “turns over” in the economy, will continue to plummet. The second law of Newton is in full play here. For every Central Bank “action” there will be, and continue to be, an “equal and opposite reaction.” String pushing is the favorite sport of the central planners, and they continue to expect different results from the same actions.

Disposable income will be stripped from savers to prop up the markets. The prudent will support the reckless. The ECB and other central banks will “guarantee” these programs with promises of ample forewarning of any policy change. The forewarning phone calls will likely be dispensed in an uneven fashion. You certainly want to be at the top of that phone tree. Meanwhile, ride those equity markets, don’t save or get caught with idle funds. Isnt this how the entire mess first began?

The New York Times seems to have missed the point that increasing fertility is a means to cultural stability. More illegitimate children would increase fertility, but wouldn’t stave off Japan’s decline. In the end, they default to “equality” for single moms.

In light of the dire predictions of population decline, the [Japanese] government might well rethink its discriminatory attitude toward births out of wedlock, which have been a critical factor contributing to the increase in fertility rates in other advanced economies. In France, for instance, out-of-wedlock births rose from about one-tenth of all births to over half in the last three decades.

While the Japanese government need not promote such births, it should at least adjust its policies so that all women with children are treated the same whether they have been married or not.

“Who really needs [the family] anymore?” Daniel Greenfield poses in a depressing piece. Flesh-and-blood people do. Automatons of the totalitarian state, not so much.

The Air Force thinks it has “fixed” the sex scandal at Lackland Air Force Base.

Fully 65% of the MTIs said the brass puts more authority in claims made by raw recruits with weeks in basic training over the word of MTIs who, in many cases, have been in the Air Force for twenty years or more.

In response to a scandal in 2011 involving MTI’s who had unauthorized sexual contact with female recruits, the Air Force took several steps. Complaint boxes are now placed prominently in the recruits barracks, and there is a special ‘hot line’ that recruits can call confidentially to report on the conduct of their MTI. In addition, more female MTIs are being trained, and there are new restrictions which require that all interaction between recruits and MTIs take place in public. Each new flight of recruits is also met by an officer who explains their rights to file complaints against their trainer.

In addition to the new restrictions facing the MTIs themselves, there are now requirements that MTIs report their fellow instructors if they get wind of misconduct. In several of the ‘sex with recruits,’ courts martial, witnesses said MTIs were aware of the activities of other instructors, but did nothing.

Fewer than 35% of the MTIs surveyed by the Rand Corporation said they believe the recruits respect their authority, which makes it very difficult for a military basic training instructor to do his or her job.

One MTI told the survey, according to the Air Force Times, that the result has been softer recruits, who are not being properly trained for rigorous and demanding service in the U.S. Armed Forces.

“I really hope I’m not around to see the next war,” he said in a chilling statement.

A victimhood mentality looks good politically. It’s not a valuable asset on the battlefield. Then again, we don’t fight battles anymore, we fight PR campaigns. Thank General David Petraeus for that.

Julian Castro is letting his true colors shine, giving San Antonio the middle finger on his way to Washington, D.C.:

Mayor Julian Castro and other members of City Council stress that they are committed to narrowing roadways to create a system of bicycle lanes across the city, and a visibly frustrated Castro said the city will ‘not ask permission’ from taxpayers before they reduce vehicle lanes from major streets, 1200 WOAI news reports.

“The policy of the City of San Antonio is that we are going to build a strong bike network,” Castro said. “We will not ask permission before taking this action, just like we don’t ask permission before we repair roads.”

The comments came as City Council grudgingly approved a measure to remove six miles of bike lanes on South Flores Street, because residents had complained that the bike lanes would slow traffic and cause traffic congestion.

San Antonio is one of the fattest cities in the country. Part of the problem is genetic, as Hispanics have a 70 percent higher rate of diabetes than whites. It doesn’t help the city’s image that the obese Charles Barkley taunts San Antonio’s “fat women” every opportunity he gets. Sure, it would be nice if people were more active and fitter to improve the city’s image. But San Antonio is a thriving city because of its economic freedom and ease of travel. There are plenty of ways to stay fit without clogging the streets with bicycles.

Matt Purple of the American Spectator looks at the common bond between conservatives and nationalist reactionaries abroad:

To be “anti-politics” as the Tea Party and UKIP are is to oppose this all-consuming view of politics; to believe that there ought to be a healthy space in one’s life where ambitious politicians and regulators can’t reach, whether that means telling Washington to back off the health care market or Brussels to let Italy regulate its own pizza ovens. It’s sad that this is derided in many quarters as “far right” and “revolutionary,” and encouraging that so many are now standing up for it.

I’d like to see where the CEDA finalists are in 20 years compared to the Spelling Bee finalists. If one of the former gets through medical school, can you blame his patients for going to another doctor?

Mike Krieger writes at ZeroHedge:

I strongly believe that it is just as important to show compassion for the least fortunate within society as it is to fight against the incredibly corrupt establishment. Failing to do so makes you no better than they are.

Krieger cites a couple in Daytona Beach who were fined by the police for ministering to the poor and the homeless. The state doesn’t like citizens’ encroachment on its principalities.

Selfless fellowship of friends and neighbors are the answer to sociopaths like Adam Lanza and Elliot Rodger.

The former roommate of Santa Barbara killer Elliot Rodger said today he had a “bad feeling” while living with Rodger and should have taken the “opportunity to help” his troubled roommate.

“I felt that this was someone who needed help and he had put himself in a position where he couldn’t help himself and that puts it on the community to help those who can’t help each other,” Chris Rugg, a junior who is a film major at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told ABC News.

“I had my opportunity living him when I knew things were up that I could have called in and it was my opportunity to help and I didn’t,” Rugg said.

I’m reading Radical-In-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism by Stanley Kurtz. This line in Chapter 5 reminds me of the Brendan Eich affair:

When your ultimate goal is the overthrow of the capitalist ruling class, intimidating businessmen is not a problem. On the contrary, it moves the battle beyond conventional legal reform and toward radical consciousness—which is [Heather] Booth’s explicit goal. Most Americans are put off by Alinskyite tactics, implicitly feeling them to be violations of the underlying rules of fairness and civility on which society depends.

What a quaint line. It may have been partially true in 2010, the date of the book’s publication. I doubt Kurtz could have written it today.

The persecution taking place is the precise meaning of “radical consciousness.” The courts aren’t driving this issue. They’re reacting. They ratify the prevailing Kulturkampf in evolving jurisprudence.

The Texas Republican Party shows some spine in rejecting the Log Cabin Republicans:

“Those groups have been associated with promoting the legalization of gay marriage, and that is not the current position of the Texas Republican Party.”

Not yet.

Headline: “Suicide Bomber Is Identified as a Florida Man.” Those Florida men!

An American who blew himself up in an attack in Syria on Sunday has been identified by law enforcement officials as Moner Mohammad Abusalha, a man in his early 20s who grew up in Florida and traveled to Syria late last year.

Ross Douthat assesses “misogyny” in the movies:

Now one can critique the “lonely gunslinger” trope on all sorts of ideological levels, but it’s very hard to see the kind of masculine ideal embodied by Shane and Will Kane as looming large, in any meaningful way, in the fantasy lives of contemporary misogynists. Whereas what clearly does loom large is a much more contemporary fixation: The male hero as lothario/ruthlessly effective killer predates the 1960s (every eras has had its outlaws, its fascinating anti-heroes, its Casanovas), but it comes in much more strongly in American culture with James Bond and Hugh Hefner and Howard Roark, and then with the ’roidal action heroes and Bruckheimer fantasias of the 1980s. If you’re seeking a full-throttle of “celebration of violence,” the place to turn is “Bonnie and Clyde” or “The Wild Bunch,” not the work of Marion Mitchell Morrison. If you want “sexual entitlement, throbbing misogyny, and … fake self-confidence” layered on top, I recommend “Top Gun,” not the filmography of John Ford.

The Spurs might be the exception that proves the rule. Robert D. Putnam’s research shows diversity decreases trust. J. A. Adande writes:

Trust is such a sacred commodity in the NBA. It’s even more elusive than talent. The Indiana Pacers had players, but they didn’t have trust. It’s one reason the Miami Heat, not the Pacers, are facing the Spurs in the NBA Finals. Diversity can be a valuable asset in its own right. This ESPNW story by Alyssa Roenigk alerted me to an interesting study by the Kellogg School of Management that found diversity led to better problem-solving. In the study, diverse groups outperformed more homogeneous groups not because of an influx of new ideas, but because diversity triggered more careful information processing that is absent in homogeneous groups.

From the report:

The mere presence of diversity in a group creates awkwardness, and the need to diffuse this tension leads to better group problem solving, says Katherine Phillips, an associate professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School of Management. She and her coauthors, Katie A. Liljenquist, an assistant professor at Brigham Young University, and Margaret A. Neale, a professor at Stanford University, demonstrate that while homogeneous groups feel more confident in their performance and group interactions, it is the diverse groups that are more successful in completing their tasks.

But that study merely looked at the impact of adding people from different social groups, not different countries. How do people speaking different languages cross those barriers to find trust?


By the way, read part 2 of Bill Simmons’ epic recap of Tim Duncan’s career heading into the 2013 NBA Finals.

Sally Kohn knows something Supreme Court chief Justice John Roberts doesn’t.

“In its ruling in Windsor v. United States, the Supreme Court paved the way for states and the federal government to legally recognize the marriages of same-sex couples.” –Sally Kohn

“The Court does not have before it, and the logic of its opinion does not decide, the distinct question whether the States, in the exercise of their ‘historic and essential authority to define the marital relation,’ may continue to utilize the traditional definition of marriage.” –John Roberts

Roberts doesn’t follow liberals’ reductive logic. Associate justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion establishes the jurisprudence for mandated same-sex marriage. Associate justice Antonin Scalia picked up on it right away:

The penultimate sentence of the majority’s opinion is a naked declaration that “[t]his opinion and its holding are confined” to those couples “joined in same-sex marriages made lawful by the State.” I have heard such “bald, unreasoned disclaimer[s]” before. When the Court declared a constitutional right to homosexual sodomy, we were assured that the case had nothing, nothing at all to do with “whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter.” Now we are told that DOMA is invalid because it “demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects,” ante, at 23—with an accompanying citation of Lawrence. It takes real cheek for today’s majority to assure us, as it is going out the door, that a constitutional requirement to give formal recognition to same-sex marriage is not at issue here—when what has preceded that assurance is a lecture on how superior the majority’s moral judgment in favor of same-sex marriage is to the Congress’s hateful moral judgment against it. I promise you this: The only thing that will “confine” the Court’s holding is its sense of what it can get away with.

Vladimir Putin trolls Hillary Clinton:

After being asked about Clinton’s recent tough rhetoric on Russia’s foreign policy, Putin said, “It’s better not to argue with women.” He later characterized Clinton’s comments as a sign of weakness, which is maybe “not the worst quality for a woman,” he added.

Putin was responding to Clinton’s criticism of Russian foreign policy in Eastern Europe, especially her comparison of Putin’s Crimea annexation to Adolf Hitler’s European aggression ahead of World War II.

“When people push boundaries too far, it’s not because they are strong but because they are weak,” Putin said in the interview with France’s Europe1 and TF1.

Chess master Putin knows. He’s pretty good at pushing borders just far enough.

“There can be no reconciliation between the observant and the delusional.” –Vox