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.

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