Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Odds and ends 1/14/2015

Sam Mikolaski pens an ode to supply-side.

Supply-side is the only way to go. It is the only game in town that will enable Americans to recover their economic strength and sense of national purpose. Spiritual capital—the intangibles, not merely injections of mythical money—is the name of the game.

Supply-side economics focuses on metaphysical issues. What undergirds them—not Obama’s obsession with “things,” not material resources—are the elements that are limitless, truly infinite: creativity, inspiration, imagination, the human will, and human determination. While this cannot be demonstrated on the charts of Keynesian economists, it works, and it works for very good reasons. It is the only game worth playing. Within a free society, these metaphysical realities are inexhaustible. They are the characteristics of those who, often with limited resources but with intellectual brilliance and unflagging determination, create products and services for humanity that humans hadn’t even imagined they needed or might need. Herein lies the genius and altruism of the capitalist supply-side vision.

He sounds like George Gilder.

Speaking of Gilder, this reviewer of the master’s master work, Men and Marriage, could pass for the seminal supply-sider himself:

The fact is that there is no way that women can escape their supreme responsibilities in civilized society without endangering civilization itself. The most chilling portent of our current predicament, therefore, is the conjuncture of a movement of female abdication with a new biochemistry, which shines direct and deadly beams of technocratic light on the very crux of human identity, the tie between the mother and her child.

Robert Samuelson defends Ronald Reagan, but the point about spiking interest rates to right the economy shouldn’t be lost.

Krugman’s story is simple. The Fed is “largely independent of the political process” and, under chairman Paul Volcker, “was determined to bring inflation down,” he wrote. “It tightened policy, sending interest rates sky high, with mortgage rates going above 18 percent.” The result was “a severe recession that drove unemployment to double-digits but also broke the wage-price spiral.”

Indeed. By 1982, the gain in consumer prices had dropped to 3.8 percent. Volcker crushed inflation.

Eighteen months ago I wrote we need another Volcker.

Robert Stacy McCain unloads this gem:

As Friedrich Hayek showed, social justice is a mirage—the utopia toward which radical egalitarian ideologues claim to be leading us does not exist, and can never exist, simply because human society requires social order and all social orders involve hierarchy. Once you realize that “equality” is a false goal, you realize that what progressives are actually doing is destroying the existing social order—democracy, economic liberty, the rule of law—with the intention to replace it with a social order controlled by a political elite, with less real liberty for the “masses” and no rule of law to protect the rights of individuals.

At the American Thinker, Jeremy Ergerer starts writing about the porn in Game of Thrones, and ends up writing about pre-modern and modern reactions to sexual nature:

Aside from the people in Game of Thrones you never see even talking about sex, who are generally the good people who are happily married, there’s one person who’s so well-adjusted that he’s given up on promiscuity before he had the chance to start (at least at this point in the first season) – the bastard Jon Snow. Snow was born to Lord Stark during an extended military campaign, which is forgivable considering the circumstances, and nobody except Lord Stark knows his mother. That’s what keeps Snow away from the prostitutes altogether: he does the most honorable thing a humiliated bastard child could possibly do, by refusing to put another child in the same position his father put him in – a position that is the principal point of all his frustrations, all his loneliness, all his advocacy for the estranged. He’s sexually wise because, aside from personal experience, there are really two ways anyone becomes wise. The first is by paying attention to the lifestyles and habits of good men, and the second is by paying attention to the suffering caused by bad behavior. I once knew a gay man who knew so many gay men who caught diseases and died that he became a kind of street prophet screaming against hookup culture. Jon Snow stands taller than nearly everyone else on sexual matters, because he knows what sex leads to. It leads to children.

We are led to wish there were more men like him. Aside from a few sensible people (myself as a youth excluded), my generation of Millennials lives to tear walls down, especially the ones built for sex. But the wisest thing that any of us can do, when encountering a wall, and especially before tearing it down, is to ask why it was built. Castles are tributes to human rapacity, not to elegance or simple skill in architecture. A wall is a declaration of fear, whether unnecessary or well-founded. We should never trust the demolition crew to give an honest explanation – especially when they’re on the outside; we should always ask the builders or their best advocates, because they hold the reason for the wall’s existence. We should see who was hurt before it was built, or if there’s something that could be ruined without it. In these days, a person who’s been poorly parented (which is most Americans) will hear the reasons against a social norm before he hears the reasons for it. But as Solomon said, the first to present his case seems right, until another comes forward and questions him.

By the time my children grow up, their generation may have become so frustrated by the consequences of a life without walls that they will begin building them again, just like my ancestors did – and their ancestors rebuilt broken walls before them, and their ancestors rebuilt before them. Life is the passing of will from one person to another, and each of us, if he is not making himself better, will be making himself worse – few of us, if any, can maintain exactly what we were left with. And even supposing a person isn’t convinced that Jonah was swallowed by a fish, and a donkey talked to Baalam, one thing about the Bible remains true as the existence of your nose: that demons fall only from heaven, and mankind was exiled only from the Garden of Eden. Even if we make everything perfect and build all the walls we should, someone will become unhappy with happiness and try to tear them down. This is our lot: always looking beyond what we have.

A pleasant conclusion to the Ft. Sam wannabe jihadist story. News 4 San Antonio reports:

A college student who prompted a lock down at Fort Sam Houston days before Thanksgiving pleaded guilty Thursday to federal charges stemming from the incident.

As part of a plea deal, a federal judge sentenced Mutasim Abdul-Aziz Alati to time served and was also ordered to return home to Saudi Arabia. He will never be allowed back into the United States.

Charles Blow is bisexual, Ben Shapiro is sick and tired of radical individualism:

Jean-Jacques Rousseau spoke similarly; his concept of amour de soi suggested that self-love -- that is, love for oneself without reference to outside sources -- was the highest form of happiness, and that only amour de soi could drive good action.

This is nonsense; it always was nonsense; it always will be nonsense. No doubt self-destructive tendencies can harm both the individual and society more broadly. But conversely, self-love as the highest form of bravery undermines the notion of objective good and self-sacrifice in pursuit of that objective good. If being yourself is the highest aspiration for mankind, then anyone who stands between you and your own self-regard becomes an enemy. Society must be shifted on its ear to accommodate your perception of yourself.

And so we enter the backwards world in which individual self-perception trumps objective reality. To pick a fringe example, if a fully biological man perceives himself to be a woman, all of society must hereby acknowledge him as a woman, a nonsensical proposition. Logically speaking, a man cannot declare himself a woman without a point of internal reference; it makes no more sense to do this than to declare oneself a purple-headed space alien, given that human beings have no idea what it like to be a purple-headed space alien without being one. All of society is expected to flout reality in order to preserve the self-love of the mentally ill.

More problematic, all of society is expected to adjust to the expected returns self-love brings. If we all believe ourselves geniuses, we expect to be compensated as such. If society fails to comprehend our genius, that is society’s fault.

Ben Carson isn’t stepping out on a limb here.

Dr. Ben Carson said Friday on Newsmax TV’s “America’s Forum” that he doesn’t think any of the Obamacare architects actually believed the program would work, but that they viewed the law as “moving the ball toward the goal” of a government-controlled, single-payer system.

Patrick Howley at the Daily Caller continues to cover the unfolding Jonathan Gruber story:

Gruber said that Obamacare had no cost controls in it and would not be affordable in an October 2009 policy brief, presented here exclusively by TheDC. At the time, Gruber had already personally counseled Obama in the Oval Office and served on Obama’s presidential transition team. Obama, meanwhile, told the American people that their premiums would go down dramatically.

“The problem is it starts to go hand in hand with the mandate; you can’t mandate insurance that’s not affordable. This is going to be a major issue,” Gruber admitted in an October 2, 2009 lecture, the transcript of which comprised the policy brief.

“So what’s different this time? Why are we closer than we’ve ever been before? Because there are no cost controls in these proposals. Because this bill’s about coverage. Which is good! Why should we hold 48 million uninsured people hostage to the fact that we don’t yet know how to control costs in a politically acceptable way? Let’s get the people covered and then let’s do cost control.”

Two thousand pages wasn’t enough. It wasn’t even close.

Incremental nanny statism isn’t just necessary because of the vastness of the changes progressives want. It’s strategic because it keeps their totalitarian ends hidden.

How does the media love Obama re: Benghazi? Sharyl Attkisson counts the ways.

An excerpt from Vox Day’s Christmas message:

So choose this day, of all days, whom you will serve. If it seem to you that the world is good, a place of certain progress towards eventual human perfection, then serve those who are of the synagogue of Satan, the government, the elites, the world. Build your great global temple to Man, consecrate yourself as a human brick in the Pyramid of Progress.

But if instead you see the world as a place of evil, of corrupt men and fallen women, of darkness growing darker, of nihilism, of human liberty constrained where it is not twisted into libertinism, then the symbol of the child born in the manger will serve as a light against the darkness, a beacon of God’s Love and Man’s Hope.

He uses a terrific metaphor to put the Charlie Hebdo massacre in perspective:

Amused by him or not, the jester who enjoys immunity from the king has long been a feature of Western civilization. Charlie Hebdo was one such jester. I didn’t find their cartoons to be amusing, or of any artistic value, but then, I am not French. More importantly, they were acting under the long-respected Western principle of jester’s immunity, and by doing so in the expectation of continued immunity, they were upholding Western civilization in their own way.

Now, I had begun writing this post with the intention of saying that Charlie Hebdo should have taken more responsibility for its actions, and taken better defensive precautions, and therefore it was negligent in that regard, but in the course of thinking through that argument, I find that it is fundamentally flawed. The jester is neither knight nor king. It is not his job to defend himself, but rather, it is the responsibility of the warriors of the society whose hypocrisies and inconsistencies he criticizes to defend him.

So, my answer is no, Charlie Hebdo did not have it coming. It is the responsibility of the king and his knights to defend their jester, even though they are the primary target of his jests. (Of course, it also behooves the jester to listen to his king when he is warned that he has gone too far in offending the king; at the end of the day, he serves at the king’s pleasure. His immunity is not total.) And moreover, any party that insists it possesses a king’s veto over the king’s jester is a usurping party that presents a direct challenge to the king’s lawful authority and therefore must be expelled from the kingdom.

In fact, through their deaths, the men of Charlie Hebdo have fulfilled their traditional jester’s role of warning the king that his policies are false and harmful. Had they focused instead on defending themselves, they would not have been able to do so. Now it is time for the king and his knights to fulfill their traditional roles and address the active threat to the kingdom.

William Sullivan talks atheism on Christmas:

That the atheist is devoted to something other than pure belief and blind faith is the great deception upon which the atheist’s entire intellectual foundation is built. It is a house of cards that they give the veneer of stone. But make no mistake—they have faith. To believe that nothing created something is every bit as much a leap of faith, perhaps an even greater leap given the evidence in the physical world, than believing that something had to create something else. (See: the First Law of Thermodynamics—Energy can be neither created nor destroyed. If we accept that as fact, how could the original establishment of an energy source have taken place without outside influence?)

The irony, however, is that we American Christians are fine with atheists believing the way they do. We may express our position, and perhaps offer reasoning for our belief. We may even have the audacity to brandish a cross to achieve that expression, put up a Christmas tree, or even offer a representation of the nativity of Christ in our yards at Christmastime to convey our belief. However, most atheists seem far more insistent upon destroying the foundation of Christian belief and supplanting it with their own.

That is the purpose of the anti-Christmas messages we continue to be subjected to by the atheist flock every holiday season. Every year, atheist groups invest time and money to convey their belief that there is no God, that no Christ-child ever existed in a manger like in that nativity scene (a beautiful representation of hope and life that is apparently an eyesore to them), and that the premise of Christmas is altogether false.

My thoughts on the paradox of atheist discipleship are up at the Red Pill Report.

Transparent won at the Golden Globes. The reduction of humanity to an amorphous sexual blob is the creator’s intent for the show:

Transparent stands for gender freedom for all, and within that freedom we can find grays and muddled purples and pinks, chakras that bridge the heart and mind, sexiness that depends on a masochistic love or a sweeping soul dominance. In particular, Transparent wants to invent worlds that bridge the binary: Genderqueer, Boygirl, Girlboy, Macho Princess, and Officer Sweet Slutty Bear Captain are just a few incredibly confusing, gender-fucking concepts that come to mind.”

Heather Wilhelm criticizes the viral video “Slap Her”:

The worst part of “Slap Her,” despite the cries of feminists, has nothing to do with Martina, her treatment, or her rather clueless video directors. It’s the widespread and growing idea, reflected throughout our culture, that the Y chromosome, paired with toxic and constricting societal “gender roles”—as opposed to, say, flawed human nature—is the central driver behind domestic violence and various other evils in the world.

What the video gets right is you’re supposed to treat a lady like a lady. What it gets wrong is that all girls are ladies. Flawed human nature runs in the female sex, too.

Mark Regnerus on the deification of will, or defilement as dignity if one wills, or damn-it-all radical individualism:

Dignity 1.0, the older conception shared by Christians, natural law theorists and others, refers to the idea that humans have “inherent worth of immeasurable value that is deserving of certain morally appropriate responses.” Understood in this way, dignity is an inalienable value. It’s a reality. Human dignity does not become real when you start to believe in it. It remains real even when neglected or violated. It may be discerned differently across eras, but it’s not arbitrary, to be socially constructed in unique ways by collective will or vote.

In the mid-400s, Leo the Great wrote the following admonition, which is now quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return to your former base condition by sinning. Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God.

Of course, dignity was not invented by organized religion. Still, the Church has arguably done a better job than most of detecting it, if not always of respecting it.

From Leo to Immanuel Kant to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this older model of dignity held sway for centuries. Literary use of the word, however, declined during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In the 1990s, use of the word bottomed out. From disuse, however, a new understanding of the concept has emerged: Dignity 2.0.

I didn’t realize I was confused about dignity until it became an embattled word in legal contests over marriage. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is now famous—or infamous—for aligning dignity more closely with human autonomy and the right to define oneself, one’s own “concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” The justice employed the word at least ten times in his 2013 Defense of Marriage Act decision. And in his vigorous dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia cited it nearly as often. But even decades before Kennedy’s writings, an organization called “Dignity USA” was founded to shift Catholic attitudes and practices toward greater acceptance of same-sex relationships. There’s a similar contest going on over at the euthanasia debate, where proponents of assisted suicide hold that what they’re fostering is “death with dignity.”

To be sure, Dignity 2.0 exhibits some similarities with its predecessor. Each has to do with inherent worth. Each implies the reality of the good. Each understands that rights flow from dignity. But Dignity 2.0 entrusts individuals to determine their own standards. Wants could become needs. Freedom, under Dignity 1.0, did not mean the ability to do as one wishes but—as Christian Smith writes—the ability to “flourish as the person one is and should become” and to help other persons to do the same. Standards came from somewhere else.

Hence, when the Church speaks of “the dignity of the human person in sexual matters,” it is Dignity 1.0 that it has in mind—not an absolute freedom or autonomy of the person in sexual matters. Indeed, she holds that chastity is not simply related to dignity but serves as its prime protector. Persons who strive to be chaste are those whose “gaze can genuinely behold and affirm the dignity of the other.” That’s a claim well afield of the Catholic Kennedy’s evolved definition of dignity.


Witness, as an example, what is happening to marriage in the West, where the power elite has aligned behind Dignity 2.0 and its novel conclusions about the nature and structure of a timeless institution. The basis for Dignity 2.0 in the West does not rest on external standards, on traditional restraints such as kinship, neighborhood, religion, or nation, which are all stable sources of the self. Rather, it is based upon the dis-integrated, shifting “me,” subject to renegotiation, reinvention, and reconstruction, reinforced by expansive conditions and regulations. It’s exhausting—though profitable to attorneys. And Facebook. But it also explains my confusion: there are rival forms of dignity, and the version you employ matters a great deal.

Social justice, however, should not cry out for marriage “equality,” because the Dignity (1.0) of persons is not at stake. Resistance to others’ wish to marry someone of the same sex may harm their sense of dignity, but that’s quite distinct from damaging or compromising their real dignity. We can recognize the dignity of persons by acknowledging and respecting their freedom to form relationships, or their rights as parents. Indeed, we do. It is neither animus nor an indignity, however, to identify one relationship as a marriage, and another as not.

Finally, Dignity 2.0 seems to disregard flourishing in favor of freedom. This shift is both odd and ironic. Indeed, real dignity has often been a politicized matter—sometimes appropriately so—because of its connection to flourishing. Think, for example, of debates about health care and social security, considered by many to be basic rights that are needed for human flourishing.

Dignity, rightly understood, has less to do with autonomy or independence than with the ability to flourish. And “flourishing personhood,” as sociologist Christian Smith writes, does not fare equally well under every set of social conditions. Rather, “it is fostered by certain social practices, institutions, and structures and hampered and damaged by others.”

Discerning “which social conditions, practices, and institutions promote which kinds of outcomes” is more an empirical question than an ethical one. It’s one I’ve weighed in on, at considerable cost. Were it not for its practitioners, then, the discipline of sociology might be the best equipped to produce such empirical knowledge. But as Smith asserts, a blend of “antirealist storytelling and identity posturing” has left the discipline embattled, unified only by a shared progressive politics (which favors Dignity 2.0). This, in turn, courts knee-jerk rejection by conservatives, who are then accused of being anti-science. It’s an unfortunate but predictable cycle—one that might be avoided if the mission creep of dignity were recognized and resisted.

Rod Dreher gets it:

Self-murder as the epitome of liberty, and the right to self-murder as the ultimate test of democracy? This is death-cult liberalism. Liberty and democracy are good insofar as they serve life. As [Jerry] Pinto frames it, liberty and democracy are good insofar as they serve the individual’s will to power over all things, including life.

Pinto wants the right thing — a change in this cruel law — for the wrong reason. It’s a reason that sounds very American, though: deifying the Choosing Self.

If liberals believe in commissioning doctors to kill their patients, why do they mourn when someone bypasses his doctor and takes his life into his own hands? I’m talking about transgender teen Joshua Alcorn.

From a liberal perspective, wasn’t the handwringing a shameless episode of suicide shaming?

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