Saturday, November 29, 2014

“Fixing” the family

“The destiny of humanity passes through the family.” –Pope John Paul II

At Public Discourse, Rachel Sheffield looks at the brokenness of said family and liberals’ quixotic plan to “fix” it with sterilization. That it happens to further the corporeal license the sexual revolution gave us is mere coincidence, I’m sure.

[Isabel] Sawhill believes that “we may have reached a tipping point” of unwed births. Now “something must take [marriage’s] place.” She proposes replacing the norm of married parenting with a new norm: waiting to have a baby until you are “ready.”

“Social norms that used to stigmatize unwed parenting now need to stigmatize unplanned parenting,” she writes. The way to accomplish planned parenting is by disconnecting sex from childbearing, to “change the default from having children to not having children until you and your partner want them and are both ready to be parents.” She posits that the disconnection of sex from childbearing can be accomplished through “new low-maintenance and long-acting forms of birth control.” These types of birth control require people to “opt-in” to parenting (for example, by having a doctor remove an intrauterine device), rather than “opt out” (by remembering to take a daily birth control pill).

No doubt a doctor paid for by Obamacare, administering the state’s requirements for couples wanting to have children. This would be like the one-child child policy, in which Chinese couples “apply” to the Communist government to have a second child. In this American liberal’s vision it’s worse: You need permission for the first child as well.

Sheffield continues:

But “planned parenthood” is a poor replacement for marriage. Sawhill’s plan to promote long-acting birth control fails to address the core problem of unwed births: the breakdown of relationships between men and women in lower-income and working-class America. Those in the higher income portions of the population continue to participate in marriage at high rates and to reap its benefits. Officially lowering the bar for the other two-thirds of America would put more people at risk for the consequences of family breakdown.

As David Blankenhorn of the Institute for American Values wrote recently in response to Sawhill, “abandoning marriage as a social standard will do nothing to address the actual problems caused by the weakening of marriage. ... An abundance of evidence tells us that marriage matters, whether we say so or not.” He also notes, “Individual responsibility doesn’t begin and end with the individual—it also depends for its success on social institutions that encourage and guide it.”

Marriage provides stability unlike that of any other human relationship. Marriage connects parents, particularly fathers, to their children. One major reason children in married-parent homes are so much less likely to be poor—80 percent less likely—is because the father and his income are connected to the child.

And marriage provides more than money. Children raised by their married, biological parents are more likely to thrive and to avoid behaviors that would hinder their ability to succeed. Children from married-parent homes do better academically, and are less likely to go to prison or participate in negative behaviors like early sexual activity. Other family forms like cohabitation don’t deliver the same benefits.

Sawhill’s strategy leaves all responsibility on the woman. It says a woman can have a baby when she is “ready,” but it says nothing to a man about making a lifelong commitment to that woman and that baby. It also perpetuates a culture of anything-goes sexuality that contributes to poorer marital quality.

George Akerlof and Janet L. Yellen wrote in 1996 for the Brookings Institution about how the proliferation of the birth control pill facilitated the lowering of the expectation that a man should marry a woman if she became pregnant. They explained:

By making the birth of the child the physical choice of the mother, the sexual revolution has made marriage and child support a social choice of the father.

Many men have changed their attitudes regarding the responsibility for unplanned pregnancies. As one contributor to the Internet wrote recently to the Dads’ Rights Newsgroup, “Since the decision to have the child is solely up to the mother, I don’t see how both parents have responsibility to that child.”

It is doubtful that promoting the newest version of birth control would somehow reconnect fathers to their children. Really, the problem is not that there hasn’t been enough focus on birth control, but that there hasn’t been enough focus on marriage.

But marriage is a binding of flesh, a constricting of liberty in its modern interpretation. That anyone could find such permanent sexual arrangement desirable!

This is how sterilization will be sold to men: “You don’t want her to make you a father the rest of your life, do you?” This is how sterilization will be sold to women: “You don’t have to put off your career. Freeze your eggs. You can have it all.”

“Egg freezing allows women more freedom to have a baby later” is the headline:

Dr. Retzloff says egg freezing can literally allow a woman to ‘have it all.’ He says when the woman gets older and has made her professional reputation, she can then decide to have the children.

“The egg is typically fertilized in the laboratory with her partner’s semen, and then that is inserted into the uterus,” he said.

Assuming the partner is male. If not, the lesbians require equal access to male gametes.

Dr. Retzloff says the process of egg freezing to put off childbirth for professional reasons is relatively new, but women who have suffered from certain types of cancer, and undergoing cancer treatment which effects fertility, have engaged in egg freezing for a decade or more, and he says the babies are born without complications, and the process proceeds just like standard conception and childbirth.

“Her health and her ability to carry a child can easily be maintained easily into her fifties,” he said.

Some large companies, including Apple and Facebook, anxious not to lose key employees to maternity leave during their most productive years, have actually held ‘egg freezing parties’ to familiarize women with the process. Many include the expensive process in their company health insurance plans.

He says women no longer have to make choices based solely on their biology; a choice men in the work place have never had to make.

No, no man ever left a job because he couldn’t physically do it. The bigger the lie, the more faithfully people pledge themselves to it.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Give thanks

When you see your loved ones’ faces
And rejoice in their warm embraces
Thank the Lord who blessed you so
Whose saving gift our lives graces
To give to each other and grow
Change to love flesh may undergo

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Barkley’s leash

Barkley was a good dog who got in trouble more often than he should. He trampled the garden and chewed on the fence posts. He meant no harm but sometimes his puppy nature got the best of him and he unintentionally made trouble for his master.

One morning Barkley’s master drove a peg into the middle of the yard and slipped a leash over it. He hooked the leash to Barkley’s collar. “Now, Barkley, you’ve left me no choice. I’ve done this so you won’t get into trouble while I’m gone. You’ll only be able to go as far as this leash allows. I’ll check in on you tonight.”

The master left. Barkley was sad. The great, big yard seemed to beckon to him, taunting him. He stretched the leash as far as it would go and lay motionless in the grass, watching the birds hop across the lawn out of his reach.

“What’s the matter, Barkley?” one bird asked.

“My master has tied me to this peg, and I can’t roam free in the yard like I used to,” he moaned.

“That’s because you got into trouble,” the bird said. “You trampled your master’s garden and chewed up his fence posts. You did wrong in your master’s eyes.”

Barkley rolled onto his back and howled at the sky. “I’m so bored. What am I going to do?”

“Why don’t you roll that ball around?” the bird suggested.

Barkley’s head whipped around. Sure enough, a bright green ball sat at the base of the master’s house, just within his reach. He pounced on the ball and rolled it from one end of his circle to the next. He rolled it every which way he could in that small space within the leash’s range, knocking aside his food dish and water dish, scattering their contents into the grass. The water was absorbed into the ground, and the pieces of food fell deep into the grass out of sight.

When Barkley started to get hungry, he regretted scattering his food in the grass. He looked up and saw the bird he had been talking to picking bugs out of the ground with its beak. Barkley decided if the birds could do it, he could do it, too. He dug a hole until he seized a fat, juicy grub in his teeth. It was delicious, but it upset his stomach.

“Silly dog, that’s bird food,” the bird laughed at him mockingly. “And now look, you’ve rolled the ball too far and you can’t play with it anymore.”

The bird was right. In his excitement, Barkley had rolled the ball beyond the length of his leash. The ball was a foot away, but it may as well have been in the next-door neighbor’s yard. He pulled on that leash until his neck hurt. Hard as he pulled, the leash would not stretch, and the peg he was anchored to would not budge.

Barkley whimpered. He was in an even worse spot than before. Now he had a belly ache and he had no toys to play with. “I hate this leash!” he proclaimed. “I wish I was rid of it forever!” He futilely tried to chew through the leash.

“Is it the leash’s fault your belly aches?” the bird chastised. “Is it the leash’s fault you rolled the ball too far?”

For once, Barkley ignored the bird. With nothing better to do, he circled around the peg, drew his paws underneath him, and fell asleep.

When he awoke it was past midday. The sun had crossed the sky and now bathed the whole yard in warm light. Barkley’s belly felt better, but he was still hungry. And he still had no toys to play with.

“At least that annoying bird is gone,” Barkley thought. “I’ve had nothing but trouble since he came around!”

He got up and paced in circles, twisting his leash around the peg as he sniffed around to bide the time. In the bright afternoon light he could see an unusual amount of detail in the blades of grass. He noticed how large they were when he got up close to them. They towered above the end of his nose. He watched the ants’ slow progress crawling over them. When Barkley considered how many blades of grass were within his reach, how many little things there were to explore, the leash didn’t seem so bad.

He noticed something else. Where he stood his paws sank deeper into the grass than in other spots in the yard. He had stepped into a little depression. The ground here was softer because it retained groundwater better. Barkley prodded with his paw, feeling the slight variations of softness and elevation in the dirt beneath the grass. Forgetting the leash completely, he flipped over on his back, enjoying the sensation of the grass and the dirt on his coat of fur.

Barkley passed the whole afternoon like this without even noticing the time.

In the evening, the master came out to see how Barkley was doing. He grinned at the puppy rolling around in the grass. “Barkley!” he called. Barkley rolled onto his belly and greeted his master with a bark.

“I see you dug a hole...but it’s just one hole. Not bad, Barkley. Good boy.” Barkley’s tail wagged at the compliment.

The master slipped the leash off Barkley’s collar and watched, expecting the dog to bolt to enjoy his restored freedom. But Barkley remained where he was, thankful for the small plot of ground around the peg.

The master reached under Barkley’s chin to scratch him affectionately. “Good boy.”

Related: “Snakebitten.”

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Odds and ends 11/20/2014

“If it’s okay to force a child into existence because it’s so wanted, then why is it not okay to force a child out of existence because it is so unwanted?” –Alana S. Newman

Rod Dreher recalls how he lost a liberal friend over his choice to homeschool his kids:

When she found out that we planned to homeschool, she launched into a tirade about how unchristian we were for doing so. She didn’t listen to anything we had to say about our hopes for our child’s education, why we thought we could do better by him, or anything. To be sure, our reasons may have been mistaken, but she didn’t address them. She just went into hysterics — literally, she started crying — about what bad people we were to turn our back on Diversity. It was an entirely emotional reaction. By considering homeschooling, we had turned our back on the Community of the Righteous. I expected people to make rational cases against homeschooling, but I wasn’t prepared for that reaction.

Liberals hate homeschooling. It’s as in-your-face an assertion of one’s natural rights as parents there is. When you homeschool, you blaspheme the progressive obligation to reeducation.

It’s damnesty if you do, damnesty if you don’t.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that Obama “is very focused on” immigration and that Republicans can do only one thing to stop him.

“They can allow that common-sense, bipartisan bill from the Senate to come to the floor of the House of Representatives,” he said. “And if the House passes that Senate bill, the president won’t take executive action. Maybe the republic will be saved. Maybe the ego of the House Republicans will not be bruised. Certainly, the United States of America would benefit significantly from them taking that step.”

Too bad Mitch McConnell took a government shutdown off the table. Defunding the executive is the best way to deal with a tyrant.

It’s repugnant for the press secretary to suggest “the republic will be saved” by abdicating national sovereignty. He exemplifies the elitist coterie of Machiavellians in government who sneaked in with public support to undermine said public.

In Public Discourse, Ashton Ellis lays into suicide advocate Brittany Maynard:

Maynard’s story resonates. In a culture that idolizes youth and beauty, her terminal diagnosis is an act of injustice in search of a solution. Those who support assisted suicide frame the problem as one of law instead of medicine: we already have the necessary medicine to “help” those who want to commit suicide. Helping Maynard doesn’t mean taking an ice bucket challenge to fund a cure. It requires changing the law so she and others can beat a disease to death’s door.

It’s a clever framing tactic. Gone are any considerations about the impact legalizing assisted suicide would have on vulnerable populations such as the poor and the disabled. Not a word is mentioned of how normalizing assisted suicide would alter personal, familial, and professional expectations about when someone should choose death. The issue is boiled down to this: I’m dying of cancer. I want to die now. You have no right to refuse me.

In a society dominated by individualism and relativism, who needs to deliberate? No one wishes to endure a long and painful death, and if modern medicine can’t come to the rescue, then surely the law should permit a competent adult to end her life early—even if it means enlisting the aid of a doctor.

And yet, decriminalizing a doctor’s liability for helping a patient kill herself is not a top priority for the vast majority of Americans. That’s why a young, telegenic presence such as Maynard is needed to force assisted suicide onto the agenda. Her story is both tragic and attractive, making it an ideal frame of reference for groups pushing to expand the so-called “right to die.”

If I had known Prop 1 would “save lives,” I would have voted for it. Just kidding. It’s this kind of deception that makes me suspicious of high-dollar-value ballot measures.

“Tonight Texans from across the political spectrum came together to fight traffic, save lives, and create jobs. Texans have sent a strong message that they want reliable funding for our state’s highways. TxDOT now stands to receive an additional $1.7 billion for road and bridge projects in the next year without new taxes, tolls, or debt. However, passing Proposition 1 was just the first step in addressing the transportation funding shortfall in Texas. We look forward to continue working with our coalition partners as we fight for the additional funding for transportation that will move Texas forward.” – Scott Haywood, President of Move Texas Forward

If we’re not careful, Texas will be the next Virginia: purple and mired in road construction and cronyism.

This line from Amy Nicholson’s Mockingjay reviews sums up my dissatisfaction with the Hunger Games trilogy:

The film’s fixation on narrow-minded Katniss means we still aren’t given a chance onscreen to explore Collins’ elaborate world.

The events of the story are too big and too interesting to tell from the first person lens of a secondary character.

A schoolteacher breastfeeds in class. Cue hyper-feminist hamster spin:

One of the students in Poyen snapped a picture of the breastfeeding teacher and posted the image to Facebook, prompting a lively online discussion about the appropriateness of bringing the child to class and breast feeding in public.

“Honestly I don’t see why breastfeeding there would be a separate issue in any way, seeing how Arkansas law allows her to breastfeed anywhere she’s allowed to be. What’s the worst that can happen, your teenagers learn what breasts were truly made for in a completely innocent manner?” Stephanie Maldonado posted to Facebook.

This breed is hysterical and aggressive. It’s best to avoid them in large numbers.

Entertaining tweets:

Freedom forever!

Winning souls, this is not (hat tip Dreher):

LGBT and ally Catholics appeared at Pride festivities around the world this month, visible signs of Pope Francis’ desire for a more merciful and welcoming Church. Catholic parishes, schools and institutions joyfully celebrated in Boston’s Pride parade proclaiming the peaceful message of the Holy Father.

In Boston contingents from St. Anthony Shrine and Ministry Center were present during the city’s June 14th Pride festival. For their part, the Franciscan friars from St. Anthony’s Shrine hoisted a banner with the pope’s famous five words that have initiated a change in the way the Church is looked at: “Who am I to judge?”. The banner as well as the shirts of the Shrine’s LGBT Spirituality group and the Parents and Family Support Group wore, were equally expressed in the rainbow colors.

The friars moved through the crowds of thousands on the plaza distributing 2000 buttons and stickers with the same message. We ran out of our supply merely half-way through the day. People were exuberant to wear the buttons. We heard from most of the participants in the crowd, “Thank God you are here!” “It’s the Franciscans, how wonderful!”

Adam Gurri writes a fantastic article in the Federalist about the three liberties:

The narrative of federalism is the liberty of communities from central authorities. It is the liberty of Virginia to be different from California, but also the liberty of Fairfax, Virginia to be different from Roanoke, Virginia. It is the liberty of the Amish to operate under a local governance structure radically different from their neighbors. Federalism is at its heart a liberty of decentralization and variation, and for this reason libertarians have often embraced it as part of the larger narrative of liberty. But it has problems, which will become clearer when examined from the perspective of the other two narratives.

The narrative of property is the one most familiar to libertarians, and closest to their hearts. Unlike the previous narrative, this one is focused not on communities but on individuals. Communities have only a vague relationship to a property owner, if the thought of connecting the two occurs at all. If anything, the community is invoked as a vehicle of prejudices and interests which might be used to restrict the scope of ownership. Ownership itself is conceived purely as a right, often owing its origin to the ownership of one’s own body—although theories and stories of how property becomes legitimate are legion. For the most part, in its purest and most modern form, this right is not accompanied with a responsibility. If people have responsibilities, that’s conceived of as a totally separate story—a different branch of moral philosophy having nothing to do with the existence and sanctity of property rights.

If the narrative of property is the one libertarians tend to be the most comfortable with, the last one—the narrative of liberation—is the one that makes them the most uncomfortable. Like property, its focus is also on the individual. Unlike property, these stories cast community in a pivotal role—the role of oppressor, dead weight, or barrier. Under the liberation framework, individuals are liberated from something—superstition, prejudice, poverty, even from family ties or marriage. They are free not only to sell their property or form a community according to their own values, but to hold themselves to no one’s standards but their own. In practice, there are always specific standards either in the background or explicitly. Science is the great liberator of minds over religion and superstition. Policy provides just men an avenue for liberating the poor from their poverty. In law, liberation is embodied in anti-discrimination, affirmative action, and welfare of all stripes. Although libertarians are often intellectually hostile to this narrative and its policy prescriptions, they tend to be culturally much more at ease with its central stories than might be obvious at first glance.

I’m getting married January 17. I have no idea what God has in store for me, for us, two years down the road or twenty. That kind of certainy just doesn’t exist. No one is ever totally ready to take that plunge.

Nathaniel Peters channels the late Father Richard John Neuhaus:

Fr. Neuhaus notes that many young people approach marriage wanting to work it all out before they enter. They have a checklist of characteristics they think are essential in a spouse, and they want to get all the ducks in their own lives in a row before they take the plunge. As much as there is a place for prudence and consideration, however, we cannot live life by a checklist. Rather, Fr. Neuhaus reminds us, we must live in faith-based courage. We must have the courage to look at our own lives, messy and riddled with sin as they are, and commit ourselves to the loving care and providence of God. Courage, Neuhaus says, is the form that faith takes in the midst of anxiety, and we must look our anxiety in the face, make “the great ‘nonetheless,’” and cast off into the deep.

We can do this, Fr. Neuhaus argues, because marriage is God’s project before it’s our project. We do not create it out of whole cloth. Rather it is an institution, “the gift God has given for the right ordering of human loves in abiding fidelity to the gift of life and openness to the gift of new life.” Those who ask themselves whether they are prepared to embark on the adventure the Church proposes should freely admit that they are not prepared for it—but that’s okay, because it is not their problem. They are responding to an invitation to the Lord that requires wise discernment, yes, but that remains the Lord’s invitation.

Invitations require decisions. To decide, Fr. Neuhaus liked to say, comes from the Latin word decidere , to cut off. It means to say yes to something, and in so doing to say no to others. We are frequently afraid to decide because we might make the wrong decision, but we must make that great “nonetheless” nonetheless.

At the American Conservative, Sheldon Richman looks at the corporatist banking system:

Greater net worth is not the only way the rich differ from the rest of us—at least not in a corporatist economy. More important is influence and access to power, the ability to subordinate regular people to larger-than-human-scale organizations, political and corporate, beyond their control.

To be sure, money can buy that access, but only in certain institutional settings. In a society where state and economy were separate (assuming that’s even conceptually possible), or better yet in a stateless society, wealth would not pose the sort of threat it poses in our corporatist (as opposed to a decentralized free-market) system.

Adam Smith famously wrote in The Wealth of Nations that “[p]eople of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” Much less famously, he continued: “It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary.”

The fact is, in the corporate state government indeed facilitates “conspiracies” against the public that could not otherwise take place. What’s more, because of this facilitation, it is reasonable to think the disparity in incomes that naturally arises by virtue of differences among human beings is dramatically exaggerated. We can identify several sources of this unnatural wealth accumulation.

A primary source is America’s financial system, which since 1914 has revolved around the government-sponsored central banking cartel, the Federal Reserve. To understand this, it must first be noted that in an advanced market economy with a well-developed division of labor, the capital market becomes the “locus for entrepreneurial decision-making,” as Walter E. Grinder and John Hagel III, writing within the perspective of the Austrian school of economics, put it in their 1977 paper, “Toward a Theory of State Capitalism: Ultimate Decision-Making and Class Structure.”

Grinder and Hagel, emphasizing the crucial role of entrepreneurship in discovering and disseminating knowledge and coordinating diverse production and consumption plans, write: “The evolution of market economies ... suggests that entrepreneurial activity may become increasingly concentrated within the capital market as the functional specialization of the economy becomes more pronounced.”

That sounds ominous, but as long as the market is free of government interference, this “concentration” poses no threat. “None of this analysis should be construed as postulating an insidious process of monopolization of decision-making within the non-state market system,” they write.

Market factors [that is, free and open competition] preclude the possibility that entrepreneurial decision-making could ever be monopolized by financial institutions. ... The decision-making within the capital market operates within the severe constraints imposed by the competitive market process and these constraints ensure that the decision-making process contributes to the optimum allocation of economic resources within the system.

All bets are off, however, when government intervenes. Then the central role of the banking system in an advanced economy is not only magnified but transformed through its “insulation ... from the countervailing competitive pressures inherent in a free market.” Only government can erect barriers to competitive entry and provide other advantages to special interests that are unattainable in the marketplace.

Ryan Landry analyzes a National Geographic article about dying Norwegian fishing villages. Excerpt:

The writer doesn’t mention it, but whaling and fishing are heavily male industries, and heavily location-dependent. You can build an office building just about anywhere, but to fish, you have to be where the fish are. Look at the pictures at the end of the article. Check out the photo of the girl mentioned at the end going off to study and live in the big city and maybe retire back home when she’s older. She’s a cute girl. She’s going to follow her sisters, who went off to become lawyers and doctors. Over/under on total children by all three women at 1.5? I’ll take the under.

If the young women of an area are running away, the guys will leave as well. It’s like local bars. You get girls to show up, which then brings in the guys. Young men aren’t going to stick around for a rough trade, which yields good money, if there are few if any cute girls to fool around and form families with in proper ratios. Norway’s fertility is 1.77. Marriage is dying, too. The youths must be finding fulfillment in their self actualization and big city jobs. Wrong again.

The whales are there. The fish are there. The people aren’t. The article does rightly square some blame on larger fishing business firms and the people themselves saying no, but it never gets down to why they’re saying no. The small-town fishing life is not enough anymore—but the lives in larger cities are empty! Family breakdown and social atomization are serious problems even in healthy and wealthy Norway. Even the small-town folk of northern Norway are susceptible to the call of narcissistic pleasure, the call that pulls them away from a way of life far older and far greater than themselves. Whaling and fishing worked for them for centuries—but not anymore. Norway withstood busts, depressions, wars, and social upheaval, but it was no match for progressivism.

The Texas Senate is considering a bill similar to what got Arizona in trouble earlier this year.

A measure introduced by State Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) which is designed to prevent businesses from being punished for not providing their goods and services to gay couples is raising eyebrows with civil rights groups, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

Senate Joint Resolution 10, which is a constitutional amendment and would require a vote of the people, says ‘government may not burden an individuals or a religious organization’s freedom of religion or right to act of refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief.’

Evangelical Christians have long chafed at ‘human rights commissions’ which take it upon themselves to punish, for example, a bakery which refused to provide a wedding cake for a gay couple.

These fights are doomed to fail if deviant behavior falls under the equal protection clause, which is the direction we’re headed in. Naturally the gay mafia is hysterical:

Opponents say Campbell’s bill say the impact of the measure would be amazing. Not only could companies refuse to provide services to Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, or Jews, and cite a ‘sincerely held religious belief,’ but people could use the law to say their ‘sincerely held religious belief’ allows them to speed on the highway, harm other people, and even to commit violent crimes.

Which is why this should be about property rights. That would mean dissing the precious 1964 Civil Rights Act, something Rand Paul is too pusillanimous to do anymore.

When I lived in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the public schools put Muslim holidays on the school calendar because they didn’t have the spine to tell them to shove it and adapt to the home culture. Neighboring Montgomery County is taking a different approach:

Starting next year, the names of religious holidays like Christmas and Yom Kippur will no longer appear on the school calendar in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Instead of Christmas break, students will have winter break. And when Yom Kippur rolls around, the calendar will simply state that there will be no school.

This new calendar won’t affect the days students have off, and they’ll still be out of class on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Christmas and Easter weekend. It’s just that the names of religious holidays won’t appear on the school calendar.

The county’s Board of Education made this decision Tuesday, pointing out that schools don’t close for religious reasons but for secular ones, such as high absenteeism among students and teachers.

The decision also arrived amid a push from leaders in the Muslim community to see their faith’s holidays, such as Eid al-Adha, get the same treatment from Montgomery County schools as the Christian and Jewish observances.

There appears to be causation here.

I take the Solzhenitsyn view. Just because we beat the Communists doesn’t mean our values are good, only better. American culture is an amoral, materialist, hedonist, self-worshiping, post-Christian absurdity. It is fetid and repulsive. I support the Muslims in their rejection.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

QE is a bull’s best friend

Japan recedes, the New York Times reports—during summer, no less!

Japan’s economy unexpectedly fell into recession in the third quarter, a painful slump that called into question efforts by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to pull the country out of nearly two decades of deflation.

The second consecutive quarterly decline in gross domestic product could upend Japan’s political landscape. Mr. Abe is considering dissolving Parliament and calling fresh elections, people close to him say, and Monday’s economic report is seen as critical to his decision, which is widely expected to come this week.

Rising sales taxes have been blamed for triggering the downturn by deterring consumer spending, and with Japan having now slipped into a technical recession, the chances that Mr. Abe will seek a new mandate from voters to alter the government’s tax program appear to have increased significantly.

The preliminary economic report, issued by the Cabinet Office, showed that gross domestic product fell at an annualized pace of 1.6 percent in the quarter through September. That added to the previous quarter’s much larger decline, which the government now puts at 7.3 percent, a slightly worse figure than in its last estimate of 7.1 percent.

The surprise recession underscores the difficulties faced by Mr. Abe, who won power two years ago on a pledge to reinvigorate the economy and end his country’s long streak of wage and consumer-price declines. His agenda, dubbed Abenomics, has focused largely on stimulus measures, in particular an expanded program of government bond purchases by the central bank.

Surprising to whom? Japan has been engaged in this kind of behavior for 20 years. The results were predictable: a bottomless market bubble, low money velocity resulting in near-deflation, and stagnant wage growth. Reaping temporary “growth” spikes (see 2013) through fascist financialization and currency devaluation is a political move designed to hide the fundamental flaws of demand-side economics. Since 1992, Japan’s economy has grown at a 0.85 percent annual rate.

(At least from an ecological perspective, Japan’s demographic death spiral makes sense. There would have been a revolution by now if they were procreating above the 2.1 children per woman replacement rate. The woeful economy appears to be bountiful enough to feed the incredibly shrinking country.)

Japanese stocks rose on the announcement of an official recession Monday. This is opposite world, after all. In opposite world bad economic news assures more money printing to support the bull market. Read wealth manager Hugh Hendry tell his investors about how he would be remiss if he didn’t play along with this new anti-reality:

My premise hasn’t really changed since I published my paper explaining why I had become more constructive towards risk assets this time last year. That is to say, the structural deficiency of global demand continues to radicalize the central banking community. I believe they are terrified: the system is so leveraged and vulnerable to potentially systemic price reversals that the monetary authorities find themselves beholden to long only investors and obliged to support asset prices.

...Investors are perhaps misconstruing rising equity prices as a traditional bull market spurred on by revenue and earnings growth, and becoming fearful of a reversal, when instead the persistent upwards drift in stock markets is more a reflection of the steady erosion of the soundness of the global monetary system and therefore the rise in stock prices is something that is likely to prevail for some time. There is more to it of course, as I will attempt to explain, but not much.

This should be a great time to be a macro manager. It is almost without precedent: the world’s monetary authorities are targeting higher risk asset prices as a policy response to restoke economic demand. Whether you agree with such a policy is irrelevant. You need to own stocks. And yet, remarkably, the most contentious thing you can say in the macro world today is “I’m bullish”.

Because the economic fundamentals read disaster. The natural instinct is to cut and run. But Keynesian central bankers continue to blow the bubble up. So, while people with jobs wary of what the near future holds in store get hit with tepid growth and low savings rates, institutional investors with disposable income let it ride in a rigged market. Who knew liberals had perfected the recipe for inequality?

The difference between the United States’ quantitative easing and Japan’s quantitative easing is roughly 3 years and a factor of eight. Now would be a good time for reporters to dust off the “Winter chills economic growth” template.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Obamacare’s hubris and deception

At the National Interest, W. James Antle III analyzes the uncomfortable truth behind technocrat Jonathan Gruber’s deception:

Gruber—again, not once, but twice—publicly endorsed the view that Obamacare was designed in this way to encourage states to set up their own exchanges. Since many states did not, a large number of Americans obtained their coverage through the federally run The law could fall apart if these people don’t receive taxpayer subsidies.

Whatever you think about the intelligence of the average voter or the funding mechanisms for Obamacare, Gruber is clearly right about one thing.

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes,” Gruber admitted in 2013. Does any serious person really contest that this is true? Fortunately for Obamacare partisans, that did not stop the Supreme Court from ruling that the individual mandate was permissible under Congress’ taxing power, since any other constitutional justification was a stretch.

“In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which explicitly said that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed,” Gruber added. “You can’t do it politically, you just literally cannot do it.”

Is the man wrong about this, either? Sure, there was an abstract discussion about the need for the young and healthy to participate. That’s rather different than admitting the law would have winners and losers.

Gruber is an MIT professor. He earned his Ph.D. from Harvard, the president’s alma mater. Do they not teach about hubris in the Ivies? More tyranny comes out of those hallowed halls than anywhere else.

The headline of Antle’s piece is deceiving. Gruber’s gaffe is embarrassing, sure, but it’s not going to hinder Leviathan, which knows not shame. It’s not going to cause progressives to abandon their idol. If anything, now that they’re intentions have been exposed, they’ll cling to it like it’s their last breath.

Only indomitable political will can defund Obamacare, the kind Republicans have been unable to wield with reckless glee that makes enemies wet their pants, like Éomer here in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. One wonders why. Could it be the authoritarian Gruber got his start under the ostensibly conservative 2012 Republican presidential nominee? Terry Hurlbut writes:

Fox News Channel has a problem, too. They hammer Prof. Gruber, and they hammer Barack Obama. But what of Mitt Romney? After all, Romney hired Gruber, did he not?

Imagine how the Election of 2012 might have played out, had Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) known about the Noblis speech and campaigned on it. Would Republican voters still have given Romney enough delegates to nominate him for President? Or might they have nominated someone else, perhaps even Rep. Paul himself?

And consider this: Gruber said, as early as the start of primary season in 2012, that Romney has very dirty hands. Gruber even said, “Candidate Romney won’t tell you this today.” Of course he wouldn’t.


And where is now the case for the Republican establishment? Do they not have at least as much guilt as does Obama? Did not Mitt Romney start the process of that “incremental universalism” of which Gruber also speaks?

Yes. As if Romney’s heinous debate performances and neoliberalism weren’t disqualifying enough, Gruber’s gaffe should end the foolish talk of him running for president yet again. A vote for Romney is a vote for a third term for Gruber.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Procreation, sterilization

As Ryan T. Anderson praises the 6th Circuit Court, it’s important to remember the question before the court is not: “Is same-sex marriage permissible?” It’s: “Is same-sex marriage obligatory?” The court’s response in the negative comes from a liberal frame of mind. Anderson writes:

So why do states define marriage as a male-female union? The court provides two answers.

First, the court notes the unique problems of male-female sexual unions and the profound social purpose of marriage: “governments got into the business of defining marriage, and remain in the business of defining marriage, not to regulate love but to regulate sex, most especially the intended and unintended effects of male-female intercourse.”

Imagine a society without marriage. It does not take long to envision problems that might result from an absence of rules about how to handle the natural effects of male-female intercourse: children. May men and women follow their procreative urges wherever they take them? Who is responsible for the children that result? How many mates may an individual have? How does one decide which set of mates is responsible for which set of children? That we rarely think about these questions nowadays shows only how far we have come and how relatively stable our society is, not that States have no explanation for creating such rules in the first place.

Indeed, the court concludes that “one can well appreciate why the citizenry would think that a reasonable first concern of any society is the need to regulate male-female relationships and the unique procreative possibilities of them.” While people don’t “need the government’s encouragement to have sex” or “to propagate the species,” they “may well need the government’s encouragement to create and maintain stable relationships within which children may flourish.”

And this need for marriage policy is based on human nature: “It is not society’s laws or for that matter any one religion’s laws, but nature’s laws (that men and women complement each other biologically), that created the policy imperative.”

Marriage policy provides an “incentive for two people who procreate together to stay together for purposes of rearing offspring.”

That’s assuming the state is not interested in raising children. More on that later.

Maybe the 6th Circuit Court’s ruling will impress Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy. Probably it won’t. Past foundations continue to be dug up to rebuild society anew on “modern” principles.

Right as he is, Anderson needs to give this fight up. We showed up too late to the fight over marriage. The battlefield was impossible to take from an enemy that had already dug in. You can reason with comically obtuse libertarian John Stossel until you’re blue in the face. At the end of the day, his side has already won and he doesn’t have to treat your opinion as equal to his.

The next landmark constitutional fight will be over parental rights. Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC prematurely showed her hand. The commercial eugenic state is coming to take over the reproductive process. It is preparing to radically redefine paternity and maternity in light of its spinning from whole cloth presumed material rights to contraception, abortion, and adoption. The longer Anderson wastes his breath on a lost cause, the more likely this next fight will be settled on another empty battlefield.

This is the most indicative article about the future of the sexual revolution I’ve read:

Sex could become purely recreational by 2050 with large numbers of babies in the Western world born through IVF, the professor who invented the contraceptive pill has claimed.

Prof Carl Djerassi, the Austrian-American chemist and author, said he believes that the Pill will become obsolete because men and women will choose to freeze their eggs and sperm when young before being sterilised.

He also claims it will end abortions, as no children will be unplanned or unwanted.

You can’t assure no child is “unplanned” without sterilizing the public. That is not a great leap of the imagination. If parents cannot be relied on to raise their children, and if they rely on rights secured by the state to avoid having children, they consent to whatever means the state provides to enable their consequence-free rutting.

Mass sterilization solves two problems for progressives:

  1. It ends the scourge of abandoned children they helped create by liberalizing marriage.

  2. It ends the “inequality” of natural parentage.

This is where we’re headed, as foretold in Brave New World: The right to kill unborn children and the right to have children—“planned” of course—add up to the large-scale, dehumanizing human reproduction farms featured in Aldous Huxley’s superior dystopian novel. Welcome to the machine.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Prof Djerassi said that advances in fertility treatment made it much safer for parents without fertility problems to consider IVF.

The progress will give rise to a ‘Manana generation’ who are safe in the knowledge that parenthood can be delayed without repercussions, he claims. They may even have healthier children because their eggs and sperm would be younger.

Why would they want children at all, when they have crafted a system that prioritizes perpetual adolescence? Someone will have to raise the next generation. If not enough adults step up, government will commandeer the whole process, from fertilization to driver’s license.

All of the preceding is nothing compared to this seminal quote from Djerassi:

“For them the separation between sex and reproduction will be 100 per cent.”

So they’ll be less human. The thwarting of Creation will be complete, if only in their heads.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pragmatic is the machine

Peter Berkowitz writes a long piece on President Obama’s pragmatism, or progressive authoritarianism:

As New York Times reporter Peter Baker put it, “Polling by Gallup shows that since June 2009, in the heyday of the new Obama presidency, public confidence in virtually every major institution of American life has fallen, including organized religion, the military, the Supreme Court, public schools, newspapers, Congress, television news, the police, the presidency, the medical system, the criminal justice system and small business.”

In other words, the ties that bind have never been weaker, preparing the way for societal collapse in the case of a destabilizing event, like a depression. Weakening the civil society ripens a people for choosing for themselves a ruthless leader to reestablish order, no matter how arbitrary or dictatorial.

Authoritative voices on the left led us to expect something altogether different. And no voice raised expectations more authoritatively than that of distinguished Harvard Law School professor Cass Sunstein, who served from 2009 to 2012 as head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (and is married to U.S. United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power).

In January 2008, Sunstein—then a University of Chicago law professor and an informal adviser to the Obama campaign—explained in the New Republic that Obama was a “visionary minimalist.” As president, Obama would “listen to” and “learn from” people with whom he disagreed. The candidate was committed to the belief, according to Sunstein, that “real change usually requires consensus, learning, and accommodation.” Obama was “unifying” because “he always sees, almost always respects, and not infrequently accepts” the “deepest commitments” of “independents and Republicans.”

In a September follow-up, Sunstein maintained that although progressive in outlook, Obama was not a “doctrinaire liberal.” Sunstein portrayed a politician who “prefers solutions that can be accepted by people with a wide variety of theoretical inclinations.” The senator from Illinois “attempts to accommodate, rather than to repudiate, the defining beliefs of most Americans,” Sunstein asserted. “Above all, Obama’s form of pragmatism is heavily empirical; he wants to know what will work.”

To illustrate the Democratic nominee’s distinctively non-doctrinaire, accommodating, and empirically oriented pragmatism, Sunstein offered Obama's health care plan. Obama “would not require adults to purchase health insurance,” Sunstein assured. Instead, his goal “is to make health care available, not to force people to buy it—a judgment that reflects Obama’s commitment to freedom of choice, his pragmatic nature (an enforcement question: Would those without health care be fined or jailed?), and his desire to produce a plan that might actually obtain a consensus.”

The health care legislation that Obama proudly signed into law in March 2010 was the antithesis of Sunstein's campaign-trail reveries. The Affordable Care Act represented the most partisan legislative package that then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could ram through the two Democratic-controlled chambers. It required all adults to purchase health insurance. Instead of cultivating consensus to win passage of a plan that also respected conservative concerns, the president chose to demonize Republicans.

The public noted the president’s high-handed ways and, eight months later in the 2010 midterm elections, returned its verdict. A historic 63-seat gain put Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives, with the power to exercise congressional oversight of the executive branch and to oppose efforts by the Obama-led Democratic Party to increase the size and scope of government.

On the left, one common explanation of what went wrong for Obama is that it was the Republicans’ fault. Nasty and brutish know-nothing conservatives were determined to foil the president at every step and at any cost. But that explanation won’t wash, and not only because it is false: From the early days of Obama’s presidency, Republican leaders such as Reps. Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan demonstrated their willingness to share ideas with the president and consider options. It was Obama who quickly made clear that since he had won it would be his way or the highway.

To be sure, the president invited Republicans, who have been known on occasion to be obstreperous, to his table. But they were only welcome to remain provided that they embraced his policies. Obama was pragmatic or flexible about the means to achieving progressive ends but thoroughly partisan about the ends themselves.

It’s not that Obama fell short of the ideal pragmatist Sunstein celebrated. Rather, Sunstein mis-described the brand of pragmatism Obama embodies. Whereas pragmatism purports to set aside ideology, Obama postures as a pragmatist to disguise his ideology. In particular, his pragmatism celebrates conciliatoriness and downplays partisanship to distract attention from the ruthless pursuit of progressive goals.

“Mis-described,” or lied? Obama promised fundamental transformation to the secular masses ready to crown government as the great liberator of souls from the world’s condemnation. No part of that suggests working within the constitutional framework and traditions of his predecessors.

Obama’s political pragmatism follows the deception inscribed in the original philosophical pragmatism of Charles Pierce (1839-1914), William James (1842-1910), and John Dewey (1859-1952). Pragmatists emphasize experience, the fallibility of knowledge, and the need to test empirically our opinions and revise them in light of their practical consequences. They reject the quest for absolute certainty and instead embrace methods of inquiry that yield incremental advances in understanding.

So far so good.

But the philosophical pragmatists took a good thing too far. They sought to dissolve metaphysical disputes that had divided philosophers since the days of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. What appeared to philosophers and theologians—and to multitudes of ordinary men and women—to be hard but vital questions about ultimate principles, were really, the pragmatists asserted, only questions about the “expedient,” or about how ideas work in practice.

Think of it as the technization of government, to paraphrase Berdyaev. The organization of society cannot be boiled down to a formula, no matter how complex. Human nature refuses to be corralled that way. The distinguishing trait of humanity, the unquantifiable spirit, the unpredictability, doesn’t factor in the model. It doesn’t factor at all. Insofar as the model succeeds, the inorganic singularity corrodes humanity, opposite of enabling it, seeding the model’s demise.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Monads in Massachusetts

The election results on Tuesday weren’t all positive. While Massachusetts’s new Republican governor-elect addresses a statewide scourge of opiate addiction, voters demonstrated the flip side of democracy by voting to legalize weed:

“It’s time to move on to taxing and regulating marijuana,” said John Leonard of the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts. “Let’s focus limited police resources where they are needed, to deal with victim crimes.”

Does marijuana trade and use have no victims? Contrary to what John Leonard says, “limited police resources” will be strained further by people infantilized by weed. Stoners drain social capital, which is to say they’re less able to manage their lives without heavy-handed, paternalistic government. The resulting dislocation is more taxing for police than stopping kids from becoming stoners to begin with. Resources are best spent at the bottleneck of drug trafficking and use before the problems of drug abuse broaden out.

As the movie Flight shows, there’s more liberty in sobriety than in the supposed “right” to poison yourself. Libertarians need to understand this. They have this warped view of people as isolated individuals, and a warped view of the law that it starts at the tips of the hairs on your skin. What exists between is not a network of interdependencies, culture, and history, but an imaginary, anarchic playground libertarians believe in with cult-like fervor.

The saying goes: “My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins.” Imagine a country of people swinging their fists within an inch of their neighbors’ noses. It’s a picture of hell, not a civil society.

This isn’t a screed about what the law should be. It’s about what the people should want. The law can only be as good as the people it governs.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Odds and ends 11/5/2014

“Therefore, this is what the Lord says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom for your fellow countrymen. So I now proclaim ‘freedom’ for you, declares the Lord—‘freedom’ to fall by the sword, plague, and famine.” (Jeremiah 34:17)

Parental rights will be legally redefined because of the parentage problem we’ve introduced through artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization. The UK Guardian reports:

In written rulings, he said the two couples – who can be identified only as Father 1 and Father 2, and Mother 1 and Mother 2 – had begun as friends. Two girls – known to the court only as A and B – were born, both the “biological children” of Father 1 and Mother 1.

Then, in a case that the judge said showed the potential problems of “known-donor fertilisation”, the legal wrangling began. The “fathers” applied to have contact with the children, but found the mothers opposed to the move.

Why should there be only two parents? Modernity has yet to provide an answer. This rabbit hole leads to Brave New World, wherein parenthood is viewed much as we now view most things 30 or 50 years in the past: with airy condescension.

A British judge gives euthanasia of the disabled the green light. Here’s the takeaway:

The judge ruled that she had no quality of life anymore, and therefore, she should be killed by refusing to give her any food or water until she died.

At the Institute for Ethics and & Emerging Technologies, Rick Searle writes a fascinating review of Tyler Cowen’s The Average is Over. Don’t miss the point about social conservatism’s value to the poor at the end.

The world of work presented in Cowen’s Average is Over is almost exclusively that of the middle class and higher who find their way with ease around the Infosphere, or whatever we want to call this shell of information and knowledge we’ve built around ourselves. Either that or those who thrive economically will be those able to successfully pitch whatever it is they’re selling to wealthy or well off buyers, sometimes even with the help of AI that is able to read human emotions.

I wish Cowen had focused more on what it will be like to be poor in such a world. One thing is certain, it will not be fun. For one, he sees further contraction rather than expansion of the social safety net, and widespread conservatism, rather than any attempts at radically new ways of organizing our economy, society and politics. Himself a libertarian conservative, Cowen sees such conservatism baked into the demographic cake of our aging societies. The old do not lead revolutions and given enough of them they can prevent the young from forcing any deep structural changes to society.

Cowen also has a thing for so-called “moral enhancement” though he doesn’t call it that. Moral enhancement need not only come from conservative forces, as the extensive work on the subject by the progressive James Hughes shows, but in the hands of both [Adrian] Hon and Cowen, moral enhancement is a bulwark of conservative societies, where the world of middle class work and the social safety net no longer function, or even exist, in the ways they had in the 20th century.

Hon with his neuroscience background sees moral enhancement leveraging off of our increasing mastery over the brain, but manifesting itself in a revival of religious longings related to meaning, a meaning that was for a long time provided by work, callings and occupations that he projects will become less and less available as we roll through the 21st century with human workers replaced by increasingly intelligent machines. Cowen, on the other hand, sees moral enhancement as the only way the poor will survive in an increasingly competitive and stingy environment, though his enhancement is to take place by more traditional means, the return of strict schools that inculcate victorian era morals such as self-control and above all conscientiousness in the young. Cowen is far from alone in thinking that in an era when machines are capable of much of the physical and intellectual labor once done by human beings what will matter most to individual success is ancient virtues.

I wrote this about the so-called “end of work” a year ago. I stand by my claims, but I’m more scared of a post-human technological singularity than I was before.

Commenter “Gutenberg” quibbles with my criticism of libertarians:

There’s a big miscommunication here, you’re talking about autonomy, the libertarians are talking about liberty. Autonomy is the greatest possible scope to human action, which can be increased through the welfare state, whereas liberty is choice so long as you deal with the consequences. I would argue that liberty is actually naturally conservative, because when you have to deal with the consequences of your actions, you tend to be more prudent.

Are legal weed and marriage whatever-ism prudent, or are they destructive? Tell me whether the transparently ill effects of these two developments has made people more personally responsible, or less.

It’s articles like this one that assured I never would become a libertarian.

“My own stance on gay marriage can be summed as: ‘whatever.’”–Robert Tracinski

Someone I respect personally said the Republican candidates for Texas attorney general and lieutenant governor will do more to destroy the Republican Party than the Democrats, and therefore he wouldn’t vote for them. This strikes me as the tail wagging the dog. You don’t sacrifice the state to preserve the party. When I think of the trouble liberals can cause the rest of us, voting for unlikable, incompetent, unprincipled Republicans is easy.

The other race I was watching was Bexar County judge. To candidate Carlton Soules I rewarded my vote for his stalwart opposition to the narcissist ordinance and the absurdly expensive streetcar plan. He lost, and Prop 1 passed.

“Colonel Dan” swallows the red pill:

Reviewing some concepts of the opposing philosophies, traditionalists generally believe in the former while statists generally believe in the latter: Individual freedom vs. societal control; Limited government vs. expansive government; Independence vs. dependence; Self-reliance and personal responsibility vs. government reliance and “shared” responsibility; Freedom of religion vs. freedom from religion; Equal opportunity vs. equal outcome; Private property vs. public property; National sovereignty vs. world government; States rights vs. federal rights; The money you earn is yours vs. the money you earn is ours; “Shall not be infringed” pertains to the right to keep and bear arms vs. pertaining to political ambition.

This country is now so divided in basic values and polarized in philosophy that I see no clear path to a reconciliation of these two opposing camps.

Continued coexistence would require not compromise, but submission, because this confrontation involves diametrically opposed principles and I don’t cotton to compromising principles. As I’ve written before, compromise of principle is no compromise—it’s surrender and traditionalists are unwilling to surrender their principles.

“… in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” ~ Thomas Jefferson ~

Attacks on our Constitutional principles are clearly an attack on the country because it seeks to obliterate many of those principles and goes against the very foundation upon which we’ve built our lives. I sense dark clouds on America’s horizon regarding philosophical unification vs. separation and it shouldn’t surprise anyone. We faced separation issues in our past so why should our future be any different? As Jefferson did in the Declaration of his day, I believe causes that impel separation, are being unmistakably declared today by these opposing ideological camps and some form of separation is becoming more of a possibility than it has been in 150 years.

Heather Wilhelm goes off on Millennials and their Boomer/Generation X parents:

A friend of mine who teaches at an affluent, competitive high school on Chicago’s North Shore says that many parents have simply checked out. “These kids act like they’re 23, but they have the emotional intelligence of a 12-year-old. They can hold doors open for people, but they can’t cope with even minimal conflict in their life. Their parents have made sure that they don’t feel any awkwardness, ever.” When it comes to things like SAT scores, he notes, parents are on top of it like Yogi Bear with a stolen picnic basket. When it comes to moral questions, they’re happy to let technology—like, say, the $600 phone with unlimited access to porn—take the lead.

In American culture, there are a few basic, commonly accepted commandments, and “Thou Shalt Not Judge Other Parents (Except When It Comes to the Issue of Breastfeeding)” is way up there in the pantheon. Well, buckle your seatbelts, amigos, because I’m about to open a big can of judge. If you forget to tell your teenager that drunken sex with a complete stranger is a bad idea, you are likely doing a bad job. If your child’s entire sense of morality and ethics is learned in the first week of freshman orientation, you might be failing as a parent. And if your 14-year-old—many apologies, as this one might be controversial—cannot make it through dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse without their iPad, you’ve probably earned those dirty looks from the waitress.

That last one may seem off-topic, but it’s true. For a child, dinner at a restaurant without constant entertainment teaches self-control, communication skills, and delayed gratification—all skills many privileged, sophisticated college students seem to lack. Social dysfunction is not created overnight, and parenting, it’s worth remembering, involves tiny little lessons taught over and over. That’s probably why it’s so exhausting.

Who would you rather have: Trotsky or Mussolini?

She doesn’t leave Democrats off the hook either. In an interview with Salon, she said of Obama, when “the going got tough, his economic team picked Wall Street... Not families who were losing their homes. Not people who lost their jobs. Not young people who were struggling to get an education...”

Pronouncements like that keep Warren’s name in the mix of potential White House candidates, which she insists is of no interest to her. Yet the super-liberal wing of the Democratic Party revels in the Wall Street-rigging gospel according to Warren, and sees her as an alternative to Hillary Clinton.

The Washington Post reports on the jihad in Canada:

One of two Canadian soldiers hit by a car in a city near Montreal has died and authorities are examining whether the driver’s links to radical Islam had spurred the attack. Neighbors said he was a recent convert.


The suspect, Martin Couture Rouleau, 25, was shot by police following a car chase and later died.

An official familiar with the case confirmed the suspect’s name and that he had fallen under the influence of radical Islam.

Talk about driving under the influence!

Iraq had WMDs. Colin Powell can apologize for his apology for lying at the UN. C. Edmund Wright summarizes:

The WMD issue was one of the major public relations snafus of the Bush Administration, and the whole effort in the War on Terror. And the costs of these mistakes are catastrophic and still mounting. Those include, but are not limited to the 2006 midterms, the 2008 Presidential election, the 2012 Presidential election—and oh, the development of a little outfit known as ISIS / ISIL / IS etc. The costs are incalculable. The electorate, over the course of the years of Bush being hammered about lying on the issue of WMDs, hardened toward Bush—and by extension—all Republicans and even all conservatives. We still have this hangover today! Ask a man named Romney.

So what is [Karl] Rove’s part? He was the mastermind and chief proponent of the “new tone” White House communications strategy—a strategy of never engaging the other side in a public debate. This unfortunately was the theory that carried the day in 2005-06 on WMDs as well. Consider this from The Daily Beast article:

From the perspective of Rick Santorum...the weapons of mass destruction President Bush promised would be in Iraq...began turning up as early as 2004. Santorum said he and his staff began receiving photographs of discarded sarin and mustard-gas shells from U.S. soldiers in 2004. Two years later, when he was up for re-election, Santorum even went public with some of this information in a press conference disclosing a Pentagon report that found 500 chemical-weapons shells had been found in Iraq.

So, in Santorum’s mind, exonerating Bush on the issue of WMDs would be a good thing to do, especially in a campaign season. Of course it would. But what did “the architect” say about this?

The Bush White House wasn’t interested. “We don’t want to look back,” Santorum recalled Rove as saying (though Santorum stressed he was paraphrasing). “I will say that the gist of the comments from the president’s senior people was ‘We don’t want to look back, we want to look forward.’”

Pete Hoekstra, who was Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence at the time, corroborated Santorum’s story in an interview with [American Thinker] Monday. “As we’re (Santorum and Hoekstra) trying to help the Administration, the harshest critics we have are from the Administration. There’s no doubt to me there’s a cover up—the vast majority of the information we have now is stuff we were asking about in 2005 and 2006 and they never told us about it.”

A senior advisor to Dick Cheney, Dave Wurmser, confirmed, saying “in 2005-06, Karl Rove and his team blocked public disclosure of these (findings) and said ‘Let these sleeping dogs lie; we have lost that fight so better not to remind anyone of it.’”

So there you go. Let sleeping dogs lie.

“It takes inexplicable contortions of the mind or perhaps even willful ignorance—this Court does not venture an answer here—to interpret Windsor’s endorsement of the state control of marriage as eliminating the state control of marriage.” –Juan Pérez-Giménez

Noble sentiments from his honor, but we know in what direction judicial logic flows.

My comments on the Windsor case here.

Allen West, or someone writing for him, asks familiar questions re: same-sex marriage:

I just have to ask a simple question — how is it that the 14th Amendment of equal protection under the law is extended to include behavioral choices? Yep, I hear all the progressive socialist and radical gay agenda groups just fuming, but I’m asking a serious question. Sexuality is a behavior, not a race, nor a creed, not a gender — albeit in the war of refining language that is the goal — how do you make law regarding behavior? How does behavior become a protected class? Don’t give me the ol’ states used to have bans on interracial marriage argument because that’s not a valid comparison — that involved discrimination based upon race.

How does an entire country give preferences to a group — a small but vocal minority — based upon the choice of sexuality? It is rather hard for me to change my race, but if gay people decide to be bisexual, then do they receive different equal protections under the law? Or what happens if a gay person decides to be heterosexual — what gay rights do they lose and how are they unequally protected under the law?

Red McCombs, one of the biggest Raiders boosters in San Antonio, lets the cat out of the bag:

McCombs says it might not be the Raiders who move to San Antonio, with the NFL pushing the team to move back to Los Angeles if it moves anywhere. But McCombs has laid out a plan for an AFL franchise to start playing in the Alamodome, which has already been vetted by Raiders officials and found to be satisfactory.

“Five years, you stay there, we will find a place between here and Austin and build you a stadium,” he said. “I think that’s what’s gonna happen.”

By “we,” he means taxpayers.

San Antonio can’t support arena football, let alone an NFL franchise. The Talons formerly of Tulsa lasted two seasons here before folding. Let’s hope this fact weighs heavily on Mark Davis’s mind as he ponders moving.

By the way, the Raiders are the NFL’s worst franchise. Even by California standards, they have terrible fans. And, at 0-8, they’re already statistically eliminated from the playoffs. Why would any San Antonian without a financial stake in the endeavor want them?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tyranny of strangers

It used to be you couldn’t walk for 10 hours around New York City without being mugged. Are we so soft that we view being accosted by strangers in public with as much fear? Shoshana Roberts says, “I do not feel safe right now,” but she feels safe enough to throw caution to the wind and venture into all manner of neighborhoods in form-fitting clothes.

  • “Nice!”

  • “Hi, beautiful. God bless.”

  • “What’s up, miss?”

  • “How you doing?”

  • “Have a nice evending, darling.”

If this is typical street harassment today, we should all be so lucky.

How entitled is this princess to demand a right to not be spoken to? How dissonant her real desire for men’s attention as a woman and an actress! If she were into her craft, she’d smile and hand her admirers a playbill of whatever show she’s doing.

New York is a confined space and much of life is lived on the street. The natives have developed a studied tunnel vision so as to not get distracted from their daily lives by what they see and hear. You can see it in the way Roberts keeps walking, never turning her head to acknowledge anyone, never breaking pace. People reasonably expect to be ignored, and so they say what they want.

Mollie Hemingway writes:

One of the things missing from the conversation about the viral street harassment video is the fact that women have—or used to have, at least—quite a bit of sexual power. As sexual mores change radically, that sexual power seems to have diminished even as we’re told that the opposite has taken place.

Indeed, when you dangle free sex like a carrot in front of men, the animal, amoral sexual marketplace treats women as bodies to be used, not lovers to have and to hold.

Now, some comic relief:

Monday, November 3, 2014

Righteousness talking

The prodigal son’s older brother, reflecting Jonah’s anger at God for sparing the Ninevites, was upset because his scheme for earning grace through works was confounded. He watched his brother, whom he thought was unworthy of the gift of grace, receive it anyway.

The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!” (Luke 15:28-30)

Clearly, in his mind, obeying his father is not its own reward. His works merit better treatment than the prodigal son, he feels.

The fact that he views obeying his father as meriting him anything shows how far from his father his heart is. He has made obedience to his father’s commandments an idol, avoiding sin for fear he will besmirch it and separate himself from the father.

God is great. Our sin defiles us, but it does not defile Him. In all things we follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts (Jeremiah 16:12), even abusing the law into a sort of transcendental retirement plan. So God sent His Son to redeem us from our sin, shedding Jesus’ blood to consecrate us to Him, so that we may experience that ...

godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:8)