Sunday, October 5, 2014

Odds and ends 10/5/2014

Vox appreciates Solzhenitsyn’s 1978 Harvard commencement address, as do I. Here are more excerpts:

The turn introduced by the Renaissance evidently was inevitable historically. The Middle Ages had come to a natural end by exhaustion, becoming an intolerable despotic repression of man’s physical nature in favor of the spiritual one. Then, however, we turned our backs upon the Spirit and embraced all that is material with excessive and unwarranted zeal. This new way of thinking, which had imposed on us its guidance, did not admit the existence of intrinsic evil in man nor did it see any higher task than the attainment of happiness on earth. It based modern Western civilization on the dangerous trend to worship man and his material needs. Everything beyond physical well-being and accumulation of material goods, all other human requirements and characteristics of a subtler and higher nature, were left outside the area of attention of state and social systems, as if human life did not have any superior sense. That provided access for evil, of which in our days there is a free and constant flow. Merely freedom does not in the least solve all the problems of human life and it even adds a number of new ones.


As humanism in its development became more and more materialistic, it made itself increasingly accessible to speculation and manipulation at first by socialism and then by communism. So that Karl Marx was able to say in 1844 that “communism is naturalized humanism.”

This statement turned out not to be entirely senseless. One does see the same stones in the foundations of a despiritualized humanism and of any type of socialism: endless materialism; freedom from religion and religious responsibility, which under communist regimes reach the stage of anti-religious dictatorship; concentration on social structures with a seemingly scientific approach. (This is typical of the Enlightenment in the Eighteenth Century and of Marxism). Not by coincidence all of communism’s meaningless pledges and oaths are about Man, with a capital M, and his earthly happiness. At first glance it seems an ugly parallel: common traits in the thinking and way of life of today’s West and today’s East? But such is the logic of materialistic development.

Austerity is a myth.

Total global debt has shot up to 212 per cent of global GDP, from 180 per cent of GDP in 2008.

Pretty damning considering world GDP grew 17.8 percent between 2008 and 2013. That means current debt is 250 percent of 2008 GDP, a $43 trillion surge.

Henry Cisneros wants to reinflate the housing market with taxpayer subsidies. In his eyes, the more people living above their means, the better.

“In addition to prioritizing low-income housing assistance, we need to raise the housing tax credit by 50%, in the short term, so these people don’t fall back into poverty and homelessness,” he said. “If you believe as I do that we don’t have a trustworthy regime of housing assistance, then we have to look at this as a fundamental, national problem because it affects all of the economy.”

Separately, Cisneros told HousingWire that U.S. housing will continue to limp along until there is GSE reform.

“We have a real problem with the GSEs. It’s really important to a long-term, sustainable housing recovery and we haven’t seen that,” Cisneros said. “There hasn’t been enough of a recovery – this is not a robust housing sector.”

The NFL is a de facto arm of the state. The National Journal reports:

Biden name-dropped Cynthia Hogan, one of his former aides on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who was recently hired as the NFL’s senior vice president for public policy and government affairs.

“The NFL ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” Biden said. “They have no idea what they just bought onto.”

Post mortems will observe 2014 as the turning point for the NFL; although, if we’re being honest, it started earlier. Roger Goodell let the cancer in years ago.

Re: Adrian Peterson, ESPN’s Chris Carter preens:

My mom did the best job she could do, raising seven kids by herself. But there are thousands of things that I have learned since then that my mom was wrong. It’s the twenty-first century. My mom was wrong. She did the best she could, but she was wrong about some of that stuff she taught me. And I promise my kids I won’t teach that mess to them. You can’t beat a kid to make them do what you want. Thousands of things we have learned since then.

Parents don’t punish their kids to “make them do what you want.” They punish their kids for doing what they know is wrong.

The winless Oakland Raiders may stink, but the chances are still alive that they could be stinking in San Antonio.

Newsradio 1200 WOAI’s Michael Board has talked with city officials who say San Antonio’s quixotic fight to lure the NFL cellar dwellers to the Alamodome is still very much alive.

Richard Perez, who runs the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, says Raiders owner Mark Davis and other team executives have attended several UTSA games in the dome, to see whether it is capable of hosting NFL football.

“They’ve seen the crowds, they’ve seen the tailgating, they have seen the operations and they have been completely taken aback at how well everything is run,” Perez said. “So hurdle one...solved.”

Stay out.

In related news, what a shock that Texas public funds used to throw money at companies relocating from blue states are abused by lawmakers. Apart from the corruption and cronyism, why should Texans pay for the honor of easing the pain Californians created for themselves?

Mexico City is built on a lakebed 7,000 feet above sea level, and it’s sinking. Miami is built on a swamp on top of a limestone escarpment, but its proximity to the sea negates reason. Doomsday hysterics like Tobias Buckell can’t get it through their thick skulls that limestone erodes and heavy things like cities sink in the mud.


For nearly three months this summer, the Obama administration carefully avoided answering questions about what happened to tens of thousands of immigrant families caught illegally crossing the Mexican border and released into the United States with instructions to report back to immigration authorities.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and others said they faced deportation. But it turns out that tens of thousands of those immigrants did not follow the government’s instructions to meet with federal immigration agents within 15 days. Instead, they have vanished into the interior of the U.S.

The Homeland Security Department privately acknowledged that about 70 percent of immigrant families failed to report as ordered. The disclosure came during a confidential meeting at its Washington headquarters with immigration advocates participating in a federal working group on detention and enforcement policies.

As usual, Rick Santorum gets it right.

Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Thursday criticized comments US Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) made earlier this month in a speech that critics have said was unnecessarily confrontational toward a Middle Eastern Christian group.

“We have a responsibility to stand by people who are being persecuted,” Santorum told Business Insider in a wide-ranging interview in New York. “This shouldn’t be an ideological test — well, you have to agree with us on all of these things, or else we won’t be with you. No, we’re going to be with you if you are a religious minority that’s being persecuted by a radical Muslim majority. Period.”


“To go in and to say something like, ‘If you don’t stand with Israel, I don’t stand with you’ — I find it hard to suggest that we’re not going to stand with people who are being religiously persecuted and slaughtered because they don’t share the same point of view we do with respect to Israel being the best friend of Christians in the world,” Santorum said.

Cruz is not perfect. Neither is Santorum. But together they could be a powerhouse. Hint hint.

Steve Goddard takes a minute from global warming debunking to sum up everything:

Until a person understands that they are nothing without the grace of God, they can’t make any real progress in life.

At the American Thinker, Kung Fu Zu and Brad Nelson reflect on Russell Kirk’s view of conservatives and libertarians:

These two bodies of opinion share a detestation of collectivism. They set their faces against the totalist state and the heavy hand of bureaucracy.

This is true and good as far as it goes. However, in the next paragraph Kirk writes:

What else do conservatives and libertarians profess in common? The answer to that question is simple: nothing. Nor will they ever have. To talk of forming a league or coalition between these two is like advocating a union of ice and fire.

Those who believe modern conservatives and libertarians are merely different schools of conservative thought are likely to be stunned by this. They shouldn’t be, and Kirk lays out significant differences between the two in his article.

Kirk highlights the essential fault of libertarian zealots when he writes:

The ruinous failing of the ideologues who call themselves libertarians is their fanatic attachment to a simple solitary principle—that is, to the notion of personal freedom as the whole end of the civil order, and indeed of human existence.

In this one paragraph he encapsulates the superficial, abstract, and utopian thinking behind libertarian “philosophy.” He then goes on to show how detached from reality such thought is.

Kirk traces libertarian thought back to John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, the doctrines of which libertarians carry “to absurdity.” Mill declares, “the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection.” These are fine sounding words from an ascetic intellectual who experienced life principally through books, and who seemed to assume, as Kirk notes:

…that most human beings, if only they were properly schooled, would think and act precisely like John Stuart Mill.

This faith in the power of logic and lack of imagination as regards human motivation is something not uncommon among intellectuals of all stripes. Kirk shows how Mill’s thoughts in On Liberty were thoroughly debunked as early as 1873 by James Fitzjames Stephen in his Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. Stephen clearly shows the shallowness of Mill’s thought and his “inadequate understanding of human nature and history.”

I find an interesting parallel to the reclusive Mill in Karl Marx, a man who rarely worked for his keep and spent his adult life in a library, yet was perfectly willing to proclaim his expert knowledge of economics and humanity with a straight and generally sour face.

Kirk lays out six major differences between conservatives and doctrinaire libertarians. Here’s a sampling of three of them:

2. In any society, order is the first need of all. Liberty and justice may be established only after order is tolerably secure. But the libertarians give primacy to an abstract liberty. Conservatives, knowing that “liberty inheres in some sensible object,” are aware that true freedom can be found only within the framework of a social order, such as the constitutional order of these United States...

3. What binds society together? The libertarians reply that the cement of society (so far as they will endure any binding at all) is self-interest, closely joined to the nexus of cash payment. But the conservatives declare that society is a community of souls, joining the dead, the living, and those yet unborn...

4. Libertarians (like anarchists and Marxists) generally believe that human nature is good, though damaged by certain social institutions. Conservatives, on the contrary, hold that “in Adam’s fall we sinned all”: human nature, though compounded of both good and evil, is irremediably flawed so the perfection of society is impossible, all human beings being imperfect...

Zu and Nelson like point 4. I am partial to point 3. Read this, this, and this.

At the appropriately titled AlGayda blog, Michael Bresciani tears Chris Christie a new one:

The Governor played doctor for the press in exclaiming that the health risks of changing a child’s sexual orientation outweigh the concerns over the government setting limits on parental choice. This choice bit of nonsense may make sense to government officials and low IQ’d societal dropouts, but anyone with a speck of gray matter knows this is just high-sounding nonsense.

In a Pelosi-esque exhibition of apostasy from his own religion (he’s a Catholic) Christie has to climb over the churches’ teaching, the Bible, and every bit of common sense his mother may have tried to instill in him.

Shouldn’t we hang on until the still missing, mysterious magic ‘gay gene’ is found? The alcoholic gene is still undiscovered; and in 1997, the Fed chose to end all aid to alcoholics under Social Security disability.

Christie used the seven deadly words that are associated with all spiritual and sometimes civil rebellion. He said “I’ve always believed that people are born with…” a predisposition to be homosexual. What part of the word ‘predisposition’ has anything to do with genetic science, medicine, or legitimate psychiatry?

Who cares what Christie or the LGBT “believes”? Is fostering the gay agenda a faith movement? There isn’t even junk science to support Christie’s goofy assertion, so are we now making laws from the personal beliefs of governors?


Banning gay conversion therapy is elevating an abominable sin that God hates to the level of idolatry. So what, you say?

If we can’t legislate morality, how long will a civilization last when we begin legislating immorality? With the stroke of the pen, the Governor has sent God to the back of the bus. He has drunk the pop-culture Kool-Aid as sure as the Jonesboro crowd; and for what? For whom?

The republic does not have the luxury to spare further capital not defending the homeland. But if (when) the United States of America does fracture, a weakened military means it will be a less bloody affair.

Amidst Mario Loyola’s call to send ground forces into Iraq is this homage to Saddam Hussein:

What we are witnessing in the Middle East is essentially a proxy war between the region’s Sunni and Shiite extremists, with tens of millions of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. Saddam — a relic of secular Arab fascism — had been able to hold down the mounting tensions of the Islamist wave through sheer terror. After Saddam fell, those tensions boiled over, and Iraq became the principal theater of a terrifying new war.

Welcome to the party, pal.

“The world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power, without the Taliban in power,” Bush said, describing ISIS as a “group of idealogues who murder the innocent” just like those who attacked on 9/11.

Hmm. So President Bush admits people like the ones he deposed are still in power, meaning the sacrifice of blood and treasure hasn’t been worth it.

Best political ad ever:

Your gender confusion is federally protected.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed lawsuits Thursday against two companies accused of discriminating against transgender employees, the first time the federal government has brought suit under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect transgender workers.

The two complaints, filed in federal courts in Florida and Michigan, are the latest — and most ambitious — steps in a series of aggressive moves taken by the commission in the past several years to advance LGBT rights under existing laws.

"This enforcement priority aims to give full force to Title VII's prohibition against sex discrimination to ensure it helps eliminate unlawful discriminatory barriers to LGBT applicants and employees,” EEOC General Counsel David Lopez said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “It seeks to ensure employers aren’t considering irrelevant factors, like gender-based stereotypes or gender identity, in making employment decisions.”

Transsexuals say their gender identity is fundamental to their human beingness, yet they maintain it is irrelevant to their employer and their ability to work.

Twenty-six people were murdered in a public school in Newtown, Connecticut. The governor wants more kids in public schools.

Under a new law proposed this week by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, every homeschooling parent with a child who has been labeled with a behavioral or emotional problem would be forced to submit to a host of strict, burdensome regulations.

The scheme put forth in the commission’s draft recommendations on mental health would require homeschooling parents to submit individual education plans regularly to a local education bureaucrat.

School officials could then decree whether parents may continue to educate their own children, reports the Connecticut Post. Administrators could pull the plug on any parents’ homeschooling by declaring that the child failed to make “adequate progress.”

Camille Paglia starts off so well, but she ruins it by oversimplifying the conservative diagnosis of evil:

Current educational codes, tracking liberal-Left, are perpetuating illusions about sex and gender. The basic Leftist premise, descending from Marxism, is that all problems in human life stem from an unjust society and that corrections and fine-tunings of that social mechanism will eventually bring utopia. Progressives have unquestioned faith in the perfectibility of mankind.

The horrors and atrocities of history have been edited out of primary and secondary education except where they can be blamed on racism, sexism, and imperialism — toxins embedded in oppressive outside structures that must be smashed and remade. But the real problem resides in human nature, which religion as well as great art sees as eternally torn by a war between the forces of darkness and light.

Liberalism lacks a profound sense of evil — but so does conservatism these days, when evil is facilely projected onto a foreign host of rising political forces united only in their rejection of Western values. Nothing is more simplistic than the now rote use by politicians and pundits of the cartoonish label “bad guys” for jihadists, as if American foreign policy is a slapdash script for a cowboy movie.

I’m unclear how “bad guys” is unsuitable to describe enemies of our country and our tradition.

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