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.

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