Monday, April 27, 2015

Redefinition shenanigans

Is homosexuality a choice? Joseph Farah answers:

Yes, homosexuality is a choice because homosexuality manifests itself in behavior—sexual behavior. No one would suggest, for instance, that adultery is not a choice. That’s because even though many men may be inclined toward adulterous behavior, only some yield to the temptation. Same with women.


We’re not animals. God gave us a conscience so we’re not captives of our flesh. Restricting sex through marriage disciplines man to master the primitive instinct to breed. It is an unevolved, amoral view of man that his sexual destiny is written in the stars while he’s in the womb, contrary to everything we know about how we develop and how behavior runs upstream to form our character.

Marriage is about compromise, sacrifice. It is not reconfigured for every person to quench what its intent is to quell.

Would you attend a gay wedding, you hateful bigot?

Ted Cruz answers:

Well, I will tell you I haven’t faced that circumstance; I have not had a loved one have a gay wedding... the media tries to twist the question of marriage into a battle of emotions and personalities... “Gosh, any conservative must hate people who are gay!” As you know, that has nothing to do with the operative legal question...

I’m a Christian, and Scripture commands us to love everyone, and all of us are sinners. But the legal question—I’m a constitutionalist—and under the Constitution, from the beginning of this country, marriage has been a question for the states. It has been a question for elected legislatures in each of the 50 states...

What we’ve seen in recent years from the left is the federal government and unelected federal judges imposing their own policy preferences to tear down the marriage laws of the states. So if someone is running for public office, it is perfectly legitimate to ask them their views on whether they’re willing to defend the Constitution, which leaves marriage to the states, or whether they want to impose their own extreme policy views like some on the left are doing—like Barack Obama does, like Hillary Clinton does.”

What does it say about Republican presidential candidates who don’t see liberals are trying to flank them with questions like this? I’ll answer: It says they don’t know their enemy.

Don’t try to give them reasons to like you. They’ll hate you anyway.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Odds and ends 4/24/2015

This is my last post for awhile. My wife and I are leaving for Chile. We’ll be out of country for 10 days.

San Antonio mayor Ivy Taylor panders to the identity cult:

Mayor Ivy Taylor, who voted against the Gay and Lesbian Non Discrimination Ordinance when she was a member of City Council, has done a 180 on recent comments she made in a mayoral debate that the NDO was a “waste of time,” News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Taylor said in a statement that she has “come to a new understanding” on the issue.

“It was never my intent to insult or demean you, and I am sorry for the pain and confusion my words have caused,” the Mayor said.

The comments come as Taylor is surging among evangelical voters, especially on the North Side. The three north side council districts are expected to dictate the outcome of next month’s mayoral race, because there is no traditional “North Side Conservative” in the race.

Taylor called the three members of her “LGBT Advisory Committee” “role models for every resident of San Antonio.”

“I criticized the elected officials involved in promoting the NDO regarding their lack of focus on implementation,” Taylor said. “My advisory committee alerted me that grassroots activists and community organizers involved in passage of the ordinance thought I was referring to them. I was not. I appreciate the efforts and involvement of engaged citizens no matter what the cause.”

No matter the cause? Give me a break.

Europe says “Yes we can!” to negative interest rates. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Tumbling interest rates in Europe have put some banks in an inconceivable position: owing money on loans to borrowers.

At least one Spanish bank, Bankinter SA, the country’s seventh-largest lender by market value, has been paying some customers interest on mortgages by deducting that amount from the principal the borrower owes.

The problem is just one of many challenges caused by interest rates falling below zero, known as a negative interest rate. All over Europe, banks are being compelled to rebuild computer programs, update legal documents and redo spreadsheets to account for negative rates.

Banks set interest rates on many loans as a small percentage above or below a benchmark such as Euribor. As rates have declined, sometimes to below zero, some banks have faced the paradox of paying interest to those who have borrowed money from them.

I can’t imagine why some people in Ukraine would want to remove themselves from this lunacy.

“It’s hard to figure on assimilating that many immigrants when the folks in charge of assimilation don’t really believe in—or even much like—the country they’re supposed to be helping immigrants assimilate to.” –Glenn Reynolds

I know that tune.

Pot has perils, writes Marjorie Haun:

This is the shameful position that amending our state constitution to make recreational marijuana a “right” has put Coloradans in. Recreational marijuana is a social evil. There is nothing good that comes from it. Getting stoned does nothing to enhance human functioning, but is proven to do great damage to the human body, adolescent brains, family ties, memory and motivation.

There is nothing virtuous or good about legalized recreational pot. It is both a cause and symptom of progressive moral and social decay. Do those who tout tax dollars from pot realize that the cost to this and future generations will far outweigh any perceived fiscal benefits? Do they realize that the children caught up in the pot culture today will be the broken souls of tomorrow? Is it worth it folks, to welcome and embrace a known evil into Colorado, opening the door to addiction, crime, and broken relationships with a wink and a nod and a bill from the state Department of Revenue?

Fred Reed comments on an episode of “legitimate rape,” if the hysterics are to be believed, at Ron Unz’s site:

At Vassar some ditzbunny got blitzed, got laid, and a year later decided that she had been sexually assaulted. I guess she didn’t notice it at the time. You have to be alert to know when you have been raped. It can happen when you are distracted, maybe working on your laundry list, and you don’t find out about it for a while.

Congruent with the national fantasy that college girls don’t know about sex or the effects of beer, a conventionally imbecilic judge found the guy guilty. No surprise here. (“What part of “yes” don’t you understand, your honor?”)

But check out the astonishing email she wrote to the offender:

“I’m really sorry I led you on last night I should have known better then [sic] to let my self [sic] drink yet, I really don’t want this to effect [sic] our team dynamic or friendship. I don’t think any less of you at all I had a wonderful time last night I’m just too close to my previous relationship to be in one right now.”

Doesn’t sound very raped to me, but what do I know? I love her grammar. The child is semiliterate. I couldn’t have gotten away with such stuff in the sixth grade. Vassar?

Who can say with a straight face this is progress?

At the Canada Free Press Cliff Kincaid summarizes the transgender madness:

The headline over the story is, “LGBT Friendly: White House Unveils First Gender-Neutral Bathroom.” But it’s not a joke. It wasn’t a story from the comedy site The Onion. Instead, this was from NBC News.

It is apparent that the liberal media will treat anything “gay” coming out of this administration as somehow legitimate or even compassionate. Nothing will be described as weird or strange, out of fear of offending some new sexual minority. This time, the “transgendered” are supposed to benefit. It’s yet another effort to confuse sexual roles and undermine traditional values.

NBC reported, “For the first time in history, the White House has designated a gender-neutral restroom for visitors and staffers—the latest in a series of steps the administration has taken to protect the rights of members of the LGBT community.”

At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, isn’t there an obligation on the part of NBC News to at least consider giving some space or attention to an opposing view? By the way, despite liberal use of the term, it’s not clear what “transgendered” actually means. Does it mean people who dress like the opposite sex? People who have sex-change operations? Or what about people who have mental disorders and simply think they’re the wrong sex?

Instead, the NBC News story merely notes that there’s legislation in “Republican-dominated” legislatures in Florida and Kentucky to keep the “transgendered” out of bathrooms for men and women. What these bills actually do is keep men out of women’s bathrooms, and vice versa. These bills are designed to secure the privacy and safety of all individuals using a single-sex public facility for which the facility is designated. That is, for men and women. This is common sense. But it doesn’t make sense in Obama’s America.

This is indeed madness, pretending there’s no difference between right and wrong. But it’s liberals’ religion, and it’s reached epidemic proportions.

Breitbart reports on the fall of the Girl Scouts:

The Girl Scouts are concerned about falling membership and a declining number of adult volunteers, so a Girl Scout staffer in Salt Lake City cooked up the idea to start a troop headquartered in the area’s “gay pride center.”

The idea is to attract “transgender” youth and children living with an LGBT parent.

Shari Solomon-Kleba told the Associated Press, “Girl Scouts is all about empowering girls to become leaders who make the world a better place. Why not at the Pride Center?”

The troop had its first meeting Monday with five girls. No transgender youth have joined yet but hopes are high.

Girl Scout spokesman Josh Ackley told the AP there are no prohibitions on LGBT leaders in the Girl Scouts USA. Breitbart News profiled Ackley last year as a “homopunk” rocker who makes music videos showing violence against women. Ackley said boys who identify as girls are accepted in the Girl Scouts nationally.

It is unclear that going further into sexual extremes will help Girl Scout enrollment. Girl Scout membership has declined over the years, critics argue, because of the leftward tilt of the national office. When the Girl Scouts took “God” out of the pledge, for instance, a new Christian-based group called American Heritage Girls was founded.

Paul Gottfried wrote a good article on fascism in the American Conservative. Excerpt:

The general view of fascism as retrograde seems correct, and so are comparisons between fascist rule and Latin authoritarian regimes. One is drawn to this conclusion even after reading all the literature—some of it very persuasive—that argues fascism was revolutionary as well as nationalist and authoritarian. The only way one avoids coming to the conclusion that the Italian fascist regime did not look particularly revolutionary is by distinguishing fascism as a movement from fascism as the interwar Italian government. The first is intellectually exciting but the second seems to have been a pretentiously labeled patronage system. It was tied to a class system and a political culture that became obsolete in the course of the last century.

Mussolini went hopelessly astray in his making of allies in the late 1930s, and by 1943 he became a German puppet. But his earlier rule had been a comic opera affair, hidden behind the ornamental hierarchy of offices that Mussolini had constructed under the supposedly supreme authority of the “State.” Actually, the Duce ruled with his legions of advisors, while trying to get along with all classes. The attribution to his administration of totalitarian qualities has been much exaggerated. And so was the mistaken judgment made by, among others, FDR and Churchill that Mussolini ran his country efficiently. He managed the Depression by paying off industry to keep the working class employed and the Italian government did so with increasingly devalued money.

Fascism depended on an almost classical Marxist division of classes, with the workers on one side and the owners of productive forces on the other, the lower middle class hovering in between while usually, as Marx predicted, joining the party of order out of a sense of respectability. Marxist analyses of fascism continue to throw light on generic fascism because the revolutionary left and the fascists faced the same social climate. Significantly, this climate and the stratification on which it rested have vanished since the 1930s, even if our media and political propagandists refuse to notice.

Matt Walsh boldly questions Obama’s faith:

Now I don’t mean to turn this into a homily, but it is interesting to note that Jesus said “by their fruits you will know them.” So far all this talk about how we shouldn’t “judge” others, it seems that Christ is specifically telling us to make judgments about a person based on what they do. How else could we come to know a man by his actions? The insinuation here is that sometimes a person might say one thing but do another, and Jesus wants us to look at what they do and make judgments accordingly. That doesn’t mean we’re omnipotent; it just means we shouldn’t go around like blind idiots (my word, not His) believing everything everyone says, no matter how they actually conduct themselves.

If you declare verbally that you are Christian but then insist that Christ has called you to do any number of atrocious things, it is obvious that you are either lying, or you are adhering to some version of the faith that bears not even the vaguest similarity to anything that might be considered Biblical Christianity. That is an OK judgment for us to make, and more than OK, it’s essential. I am not saying that someone isn’t a Christian if they sin. I’m saying that someone isn’t a Christian if they believe that Jesus endorses, condones, or loves sin.

In the case of Obama, we could look at how he has attacked religious freedom in this country and attempted to force Christians to abandon their beliefs for the sake of his political ideology; we could look at how he has aided and abetted the persecutors of Christians overseas, resulting in the slaughter of thousands of Christian martyrs; we could look at his “evolving” position on gay marriage; we could look at how he excuses Islamic terrorism and draws moral equivalencies between Muslim killers and Christians; we could look at his pathological dishonesty, his cynical exploitation of racial tensions, and his general corruption and unwavering narcissism. But all of these things might be written off as him simply exhibiting the characteristics of a weak man, a crooked politician, an inept leader, and a fool. He could theoretically be all of those things and still a Christian.

Leave all of that aside, then. The thing above all else that really reveals his true faith (or lack thereof) is his undying passion for, support of, and belief in abortion.


Possibly most damning of all, in what I believe is the quintessential and, though this is saying a lot, the most despicable moment of his horrible, deadly reign, he attended a Planned Parenthood fundraiser (first president to do that) where he wished for God to bless the abortionists in attendance (not bless them that they may repent, but bless them that they may continue their genocidal mission).

For me the clincher came earlier. It was the president’s qualifying his answer to Rick Warren’s question on same-sex marriage: “As a Christian I believe marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman.” I suspected like all doctrinaire liberals he believed in marriage redefinition. His deception confirmed to me Christianity was an identity he slipped into when it was convenient. If “as a Christian” I believe X, but as something else I believe anti-X, and I default to anti-X for all intents and purposes, then to what extent am I truly a Christian?

From the final chapter of C. S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain:

The Father eternally begets the Son and the Holy Ghost proceeds: deity introduces distinction within itself so that the union of reciprocal loves may transcend mere arithmetical unity or self identity.

But the eternal distinctness of each soul—the secret which makes of the union between each soul and God a species in itself will never abrogate the law that forbids ownership in heaven. As to its fellow-creatures, each soul, we suppose, will be eternally engaged in giving away to all the rest that which it receives. And as to God, we must remember that the soul is but a hollow which God fills. Its union with God is, almost by definition, a continual self abandonment—an opening, an unveiling, a surrender, of itself. A blessed spirit is a mould ever more and more patient of the bright metal poured into it, a body ever more completely uncovered to the meridian blaze of the spiritual sun. We need not suppose that the necessity for something analogous to self conquest will ever be ended, or that eternal life will not also be eternal dying. It is in this sense, that, as there may be pleasures in hell (God shield us from them), there may be something not all unlike pains in heaven (God grant us soon to taste them).

For in self-giving, if anywhere, we touch a rhythm not only of all creation but of all being. For the Eternal Word also gives Himself in sacrifice; and that not only on Calvary. For when He was crucified He “did that in the wild weather of His outlying provinces which He had done at home in glory and gladness.” From before the foundation of the world He surrenders begotten Deity back to begetting Deity in obedience. And as the Son glorifies the Father, so also the Father glorifies the Son. And, with submission, as becomes a layman, I think it was truly said “God loveth not Himself as Himself but as Goodness; and if there were aught better than God, He would love that and not Himself.” From the highest to the lowest, self exists to be abdicated and, by that abdication, becomes the more truly self, to be thereupon yet the more abdicated, and so forever.

Finally, an excerpt from Don Richardson’s Peace Child:

It was the ideal of using friendship to fatten one’s victims for the slaughter, of finding comfort and delight in the misery and destruction of others. ... As every philosophy, once its basic tenets have been accepted, draws it adherents irresistibly towards certain ultimate conclusions, so also the Sawi worldview had at last found what was possibly its ultimate expression in the treachery of Kani and Mahaen.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spend the gas tax on what it’s for

At last a Texas constitutional amendment I can get behind:

A measure that would bring an end to dipping into the state gasoline tax fund to pay for several unrelated state projects in making its way through the senate Finance Committee, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Currently, the 20 cent a gallon state tax that motorists pay when they fill up at the pump pays for the Texas Commission on the Arts, the State Historical Commission, and the Automobile Theft Prevention Agency (in a sleight of hand that only politicians could come up with, the $1 fee on every auto insurance policy which is earmarked for the ATPA does not actually go to it. It goes into the state general fund, and money is then taken out of the gas tax fund, called Fund 6, to pay for the Agency).

The biggest chunk taken out of the gas tax revenue stream is $1.44 billion that pays for the Department of Public Safety.

State Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) wants to end all “diversions” except for using a quarter of the gas tax fund to help pay for public schools.

“Based on the 2012-2015 numbers, ending this diversion would free up at least $1 billion to improve our transportation infrastructure,” Perry told the Senate Finance Committee.

This is a better revenue source for building roads than diverting money from the Rainy Day Fund, a shortsighted move that I warned about last October:

Prop 1 puts much of TXDOT’s revenue on collections from the oil and gas severance tax, which is bloated right now due to the Eagle Ford shale boom. Not only is this a sketchy revenue stream to base a 10-year budget outlook on, but it removes the onus of road funding from those who use the roads—that is, motorists.

Now that the price of oil has halved in less than a year, drillers are finding it cheaper to coast on their cash reserves until the price rebounds. That’s smart thinking on their part, but the same can’t be said for Texas voters, who approved Prop 1 by a whopping 80 percent majority. Oil and gas severance tax revenue in the state will plummet this year, leaving little money for a real emergency, let alone road construction.

If TXDOT wants more money to build roads, they can ask for a gas tax hike to pay for it directly. Then we’ll see how eager Texans are to spend $5 billion a year on roads.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rich with time

A professor in college once told us the purpose of philosophy is to help answer the question, “Why shouldn’t I kill myself?”

I’ve considered suicide, only because I wanted to write about it realistically for a novel I was writing. I had my main character, loosely modeled on my misanthropic, entitled young self, utterly alone in the city and stuck in a Dostoevskian existentialist abyss, go through with a plot to kill himself only to be saved by chance.

After a planned night of ribaldry and licentiousness, he secludes himself and prepares for the self-execution. He carefully reviews his rationalizations for suicide, making sure he’s covered all the bases and that this is indeed the way out of this awful, awful life. He gets on his knees and sticks the barrel of a gun in his mouth. He squeezes the trigger, but the gun doesn’t fire.

He looks at the gun. He’d forgotten to flip the safety! He laughs at himself. Even in his attempt to leave this world behind forever, it still mocks him. A gratuitous parting shot, one last joke at his expense. His act to take control of his life, by ending it, is like everything else, vanity.

Still smirking, he flips the safety off and sticks the gun back in his mouth. Before he squeezes the trigger, a thought passes through his mind: that these last few seconds almost didn’t happen, that he actually appreciated the moment, an experience that he would not have had if he succeeded in killing himself the first time. It was like a gift.

The hesitation breaks his concentration. He puts the gun down and thinks. What if he had killed himself? He would not have been alive. He would not have had the last minute to himself. What was a minute? It was nothing. It meant nothing. Compared to death, though, a minute was everything. It was all supposed to end, but it hadn’t. As arbitrary as the last minute’s contents were, it was something.

What has changed? he asks himself. I’m still me. I’m the same as I was this morning. My reasoning is sound. Why shouldn’t I kill I myself? Why shouldn’t I?

But even the opportunity to ask the question chastens the thought. For the opportunity was afforded to him because of time he did not count on having.

He feels it in his stomach. This is the start of something, a second chance. He throws the gun away. He wants another minute. He wants another hour, another day, another year. He wants the time to be alive, even if in pain. For he is not the poor wretch he thought he was. He is rich with time. And he’s rich with time because he chooses to have it. It’s free for him to do with what he wills.

He doesn’t know it, but this minute will lead him to believe in life, to believe in God, and finally to believe in God’s sovereign grace in sending His son in the flesh to take the punishment for the flawed, desperate man he was. A whole life that he almost threw away the chance of living, he lives.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Not as long ago, in a galaxy still far, far away

J. J. Abrams is a master craftsman and did a fine job rebooting the Star Trek franchise. I’m confident he’ll set Star Wars aright after George Lucas mutilated the prequels with his stilted character development and stilted computer-generated sets.

It looks from the new The Force Awakens trailer that Han Solo’s and Princess Leia’s progeny will play a central role.

The trailer replays Luke’s monologue when he tells Leia the Force is strong is in his family, that she’s his sister, and she has the Force, too. The great, untapped potential from the original trilogy was Leia’s gift of the Force. “There is another,” Yoda said cryptically in The Empire Strikes Back. We found out later the another is Leia. But she never uses the Force, not consciously. At best, the Force guards her life and helps her to communicate telepathically with Luke. “I can feel it,” she tells Han Solo when he assures her Luke didn’t die on the exploding Death Star.

The name of the movie, The Force Awakens, implies a heretofore dormant Force, which would reasonably describe Leia—or her bloodline. Carrie Fisher is iconic as Leia, but at her age she’s not going carry this movie or the next. The importance of bringing back her and the rest of the main cast from the original trilogy is to bridge the old and new story lines, to pass the torch to new characters.

Which brings me to another point. Leia, Luke, Han, and Chewbacca are expendable. They could be killed off with the same suddenness that Obi-Wan Kenobi died in A New Hope. Having that kind of creative license with the lives of beloved characters can really expand the scope of what is possible from a storytelling perspective. Game of Thrones fans can attest to that.

J. J. Abrams might do it. He almost killed Captain Kirk in Star Trek: Into Darkness. In fact, he did kill him, but then brought him back to life with Khan’s blood, a farce if you ask me. He could have left Kirk for dead, ripped the audience’s guts out, and charged us all double price to see revenge-mode Spock in the next movie. Alas, it didn’t happen.

But Star Trek is a reboot. The Force Awakens is a sequel in a multi-decade story arc. No major characters from Episode I are alive by the end of Episode VI. The same might be said between Episode IV and Episode VII. I can’t wait til Christmas to find out.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Shale bust

A friend of mine who is an economist in the oil and gas industry says everything works for suppliers when the price of a barrel of oil is $100. That is, $100 per barrel of oil makes all kinds of drilling profitable, from conventional oil wells to deep sea rigs to tar sands to shale fracking—without giving consumers sticker shock.

The last time WTI crude was at $100 per barrel was August. It’s been hovering around $50 since December. While this is great for consumers, prices are creating a counterrevolution in the drilling industry. Tar sands and shale fracking, which have fueled economic booms in western Canada, the Dakotas, and Texas, aren’t profitable. And credit is drying up to keep operations running, as there’s no end in sight to cheap oil.

Consequently, suppliers are shutting down and laying off workers. This time last year, there were 220 active rigs in the Eagle Ford shale formation in South Texas. This year, there are 125, a 42-percent decline, according to the weekly Baker Hughes Rig Count report. If Texas was at the forefront of the “recovery,” it’s at the forefront of the recession, contributing 47,000 of the 140,000 layoffs in the first quarter.

It’s as I feared. The Eagle Ford shale formation transformed South Texas from a ranching culture that had thrived for a hundred years to a drilling culture that boomed and busted in the span of five. This is how towns become ghost towns. They were muddling along when all of a sudden they’re dominated by a singular economic purpose, like striking it rich on a drilling lease, or a mining lease. Then market forces divert production, and the town is gutted of its human and economic capital. Worst of all, though, the shock of the boom blew up the cultural memory and infrastructure of the economy that thrived beforehand. Getting it back will be like picking up the pieces after a tornado.

For posterity, read these articles written during the shale boom:

Friday, April 10, 2015

Odds and ends 4/10/2015

“It is impossible to will a world where religious liberty is protected while endorsing a jurisprudence that describes opposition to gay marriage as animus.” –Andrew Walker

Two top-shelf columns on Indiana are up at National Review. First, Kevin Williamson, who clearly is not a fan of the 1964 CRA:

When there is no private property — the great legal fiction of “public accommodation” saw to its effective abolition — then everything is subject to brute-force politics, and there can be no live-and-let-live ethic, which is why a nation facing financial ruination and the emergence of a bloodthirsty Islamic caliphate is suffering paroxysms over the question of whether we can clap confectioners into prison for declining to bake a cake for a wedding in which there is no bride.

The people who have hijacked the name “liberal” — the étatists — always win when social questions are decided by the state rather than in private life, because the expansion of the state, and the consequent diminution of private life, is their principal objective. The self-styled progressive sets himself in rhetorical opposition to Big Business, but the corporate manager often suffers from the same fatal conceit as the economic étatist — an unthinking, inhumane preference for uniformity, consistency, regimentation, and conformity. It is no surprise to see Apple and Walmart joining forces here against the private mind. There is a reason that the atmosphere and protocols of the corporate human-resources office are a great deal like those of the junior-high vice-principal’s office: All reeducation facilities have a little something in common.

And Andrew Walker:

When the Left rejects the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it invites compelled speech. When photographers are forced under threat of fines to shoot weddings or religious services that they believe are immoral, the assumption is that we are sometimes legally bound to participate in certain kinds of speech, and the state becomes the arbiter of what that speech is in specific instances.

When the Left rejects the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it welcomes the erosion of free association. When the state can deem codes of conduct or membership statements to be irrational prejudice, it diminishes the ability of citizens to associate or to organize for a cause.

When the Left rejects the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it invites the derogation of religious motives underpinning free expression. It allows the state to determine what beliefs are properly or improperly grounds for taking legal action.

Which leads to my final point. When the Left rejects the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it invites the imposition of state-enforced morality. The Left requires obedience and punishes dissent. It insists that all citizens must, against their will, act only in a manner that liberalism judges to be accommodating and politic.

If “discrimination is discrimination,” RFRAs aren’t enough. Nathaniel Frank has a point.

Now, just because it may be sincere does not make it right; it’s still discrimination. Indeed, it’s abundantly clear to anyone who thinks about it that citing religion in asserting anti-gay beliefs is prejudice pure and simple—just ask them for evidence of giving divorced people the same litmus test as gay people, and you’ll have proof of cherry-picking religious texts to suit a bias. Where, for instance, is the outcry to let adherents of the Old Testament stone adulterers to death?

I wouldn’t put it past a federal judge to rule conscientious objectors to non-marriage are “insincere” because they don’t follow every jot and tittle of the Mosaic law.

Tom DeLay summarizes:

“The problem is the sin. So yes, when I have a business and some gay person walks in—unidentified, by the way; there’s no way you can tell unless he tells you—then I’m going to serve him,” he said.

“But if he comes in and asks me to undermine my values, what I believe in, undermine my religious liberty, then I have the right to stand up for what I believe in and not serve him.

“It’s not discrimination. It’s the government telling us how we are to act, what we are to believe, and that has got to be fought with every ounce of our being.”

Final word on this matter. Dan Delzell writes at the Christian Post:

Are certain people born bisexual? And are others born gay? Here is how Scripture addresses it. “Surely I have been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5) Sin, like a person’s DNA, is hereditary. We received sin from our parents. And they received it from their parents. And it can be traced all the way back to Adam and Eve.

But here again, the Bible does not pick on particular sinners. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) This is the obvious part of the equation. What isn’t so easy to understand is why some people wrestle with desires which you or I never experience, and vice versa. The Bible does not elevate one group of sinners above another group. We are equally sinful before our Creator. And the Bible prescribes only one solution for sinners, regardless of desires, scientific research, orientation, background, family history, and personal tendencies. The only solution for sin is the cross of Jesus Christ.

Jesus died for people who struggle with lying; and people who struggle with adultery; and people who struggle with gossip; and people who struggle with being judgmental; and people who struggle with bisexuality; and people who struggle with greed; and people who struggle with homosexual desires; and people who struggle with pride. You see, Jesus died for all people. (see 2 Cor. 5:14,15)

While the world grapples with the idea of a gay gene, Scripture is light years ahead of that theory. At the end of the day, regardless of educated guesses, God’s plan for marriage between a man and a woman is the only acceptable place for sex.

Since we live in a sexually-charged society, many today are in need of God’s forgiveness for sexual sins. But regardless of whether or not you have “kept the marriage bed pure,” (Hebrews 13:4) you are in need of the cross. Your soul needs the living water of the Holy Spirit, who enters a person the moment you repent of sin and trust Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Once that happens, your body becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit. (see 1 Cor. 6:19) And the Lord is greatly concerned about what happens in His temple.

At Crisis, Rickard Newman explains how the sexual revolution made marriage redefinition possible:

  1. Sex has been divorced from children.

    The invention and proliferation of the contraceptive pill in the 1950s and 1960s made it possible to spread the lie that sex could be conducted for pleasure alone, without any unwanted consequences—like babies. As described by Saint John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae, the danger with contraception is how it puts personal fulfillment at the center of life’s meaning and fosters a self-centered concept of freedom, a freedom divorced from truth.

    Freedom is not the ability to do whatever you want to do, but to do what one ought to do. This is the difference between a freedom that will make you a slave under your sins or a freedom that will set you free through discipline and self-mastery. When pretending that sex is sterile we are no longer living according to the truth of the human person, and that puts us on a path to self-destruction. The fact that about 60 million children have been aborted since 1973 should be evidence enough.

  2. Sex has been divorced from love.

    In his book Three to Get Married, Fulton Sheen makes the following distinction: “In sex the male adores the female. In love the man and woman together adore God. Sex seeks the part; love the totality.” In the hook-up-culture, ubiquitous on college campuses today, sex is seen as just another recreational activity with no deeper meaning. It essentially favors male sexual desires while leaving females feeling disconnected and jaded. This has led to more STDs and unintended pregnancies, increased sexual violence as well as introduced a range of emotional and psychological problems that become barriers to authentic love.

  3. Love has been divorced from commitment.

    Love is not seen as an action, a promise and commitment anchored and sustained in the will. It’s rather based on a hedonistic mindset that sees love as an emotion, an intangible sentiment constructed in the mind and backed up by some butterflies in the stomach and physical attraction. With the introduction of “no-fault” divorce in the late 1970s and early 1980s, couples could split up for any reason, like “falling out of love,” or no reason at all. This legislative policy is erroneously based on the idea that marriage is primarily about adult romance.

  4. Marriage has been divorced from children.

    Almost half of all “first babies” in the U.S. are now being born to unwed mothers. For Millennials, out-of-wedlock childbirth is the norm. With more cohabitation comes less family stability, which in turn creates more single parents. Single parent families are more prone to poverty and children who grow up without their fathers are much more likely to use drugs, commit crimes, become teen parents and spend time in jail. With the introduction of same-sex “marriage” the idea of marriage as a union with unique and distinct procreative features is effectively being abolished.

  5. Children have been divorced from sex.

    The inverse of contraception and abortion is children as entitlements. With reproductive technologies and practices such as egg and sperm donation, IVF and surrogacy, it is no longer sex that makes babies but doctors and fertility agencies. Parenthood today is becoming a commercial enterprise, not determined by the biological union that created the child, but rather legally assigned according to adult intentions and desires.

Who does Brittney Cooper, of New York subway infamy, worship? Certainly not the Jesus who told the adulterous woman to leave her life of sin (John 8:11).

I often ask myself whether I really do worship the same God of white religious conservatives. On this Holy Week, when I reflect on the Christian story of Christ crucified, it is a story to me of a man who came, radically served his community, challenged the unjust show of state power, embraced children, working-class men and promiscuous women and sexual minorities (eunuchs). Of the many things Jesus preached about, he never found time to even mention gay people, let alone condemn them. His message of radical inclusivity was so threatening that the state lynched him for fear that he was fomenting a cultural and political rebellion. They viewed such acts as criminal acts and they treated Jesus as a criminal. And all who followed him were marked for death.

This is why I identify with the story of Jesus. And frankly, it is the only story there really is. This white, blond-haired, blue-eyed, gun-toting, Bible-quoting Jesus of the religious right is a god of their own making. I call this god, the god of white supremacy and patriarchy. There is nothing about their god that speaks to me as a Black woman of working-class background living in a country where police routinely murder black men and beat the hell out of black women, where the rich get richer while politicians find ever more reasons to extract from the poor, and where the lives the church imagines for women still center around marriage and motherhood, and no sex if you’re single.

This God isn’t the God that I serve. There is nothing holy, loving, righteous, inclusive, liberatory or theologically sound about him. He might be “biblical” but he’s also an asshole.

The Jesus I know, love, talk about and choose to retain was a radical, freedom-loving, justice-seeking, potentially queer (because he was either asexual or a priest married to a prostitute), feminist healer, unimpressed by scripture-quoters and religious law-keepers, seduced neither by power nor evil.

The Japanese stock market is rocking thanks to quantitative easing. The real economy? Not so much. Zero Hedge posts:

The real punchline when it comes to the Japanese QE experience is that the so-called “wealth effect” — which certainly makes the wealthy wealthier but exactly how far down the benefit ultimately trickles is up for debate — is on steroids because not only is the central bank helping to push up the prices of the financial assets held by the rich, the BoJ actually won’t let them fall, as we recently discovered when it was revealed that the bank intervenes in morning trading when sentiment seems less than euphoric. In other words, they are more than “supportive”, they have openly rigged the system, and we don’t mean in a kind of “behind the scenes the market is rigged by HFT firms that never have losing trading days” type of way — we mean in a blatant “we’ll print money and buy every single ETF that trades if we have to in order to ensure that stocks don’t fall” type of way. But we guess the fact that this is increasing the disparity between the haves and the have-nots is just further evidence that, much like poor people in the US, Japan’s poor similarly don’t understand Janet Yellen’s extolling of the virtues of having assets.

Re: Charlie Hebdo, George Weigel rightly calls it nihilism.

My venerable Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary defines “satire” as “a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn,” the secondary definition being “trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly.” That is not what Charlie Hebdo does. Issue after issue, Charlie Hebdo mocks, not vice and folly (which are fair game), but many people’s most deeply held and cherished beliefs, including their religious convictions. I won’t describe its cover cartoon lampooning the doctrine of the Trinity after the Catholic bishops of France had opposed so-called “gay marriage;” if that cover was not pornographic, than the word “pornographic” has no meaning.

In the world of Charlie Hebdo, sadly, all religious convictions (indeed all serious convictions about moral truth) are, by definition, fanaticism—and thus susceptible to the mockery of the “enlightened.” But that crude caricature of religious belief and moral conviction is false; it’s adolescent, if not downright childish; it inevitably lends itself to the kind of vulgarity that intends to wound, not amuse; and over the long haul, it’s as corrosive of the foundations of a decent society as the demented rage of the jihadists who murdered members of Charlie Hebdo’s staff.

The sophomoric nastiness regularly displayed in Charlie Hebdo most certainly does not constitute any sort of warrant for homicide; the incapacity of some Muslims to live in pluralistic societies and the rage to which those incapacities lead is a grave threat to the West. The question is: what do those two truths have to do with each other?

Here’s my suggestion: You can’t beat something with nothing—perhaps better, you can’t beat something with nothingness.

If all that Europe can say in condemning the despicable murders of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists and editors is “We are all Charlie Hebdo,” then what Europe is saying is, in effect, “We are all nihilists.” And how, pray, is nihilism—nothingness raised to a first principle, skepticism taken to the last extreme—supposed to defeat conviction, however warped that conviction is? If all that Europe can say to murderous jihadism is “Why can’t we all just get along?” its fecklessness will make it an even softer target for the kind of lethal fanaticism that recently turned Paris into a war zone.

Validating my take.

Rowan Scarborough writes in the Washington Times:

A backdrop to the massacre in Paris on Wednesday by self-professed al Qaeda terrorists is that city officials have increasingly ceded control of heavily Muslim neighborhoods to Islamists, block by block.

France has Europe’s largest population of Muslims, some of whom talk openly of ruling the country one day and casting aside Western legal systems for harsh, Islam-based Shariah law.

“The situation is out of control, and it is not reversible,” said Soeren Kern, an analyst at the Gatestone Institute and author of annual reports on the “Islamization of France.”

“Islam is a permanent part of France now. It is not going away,” Mr. Kern said. “I think the future looks very bleak. The problem is a lot of these younger-generation Muslims are not integrating into French society. Although they are French citizens, they don’t really have a future in French society. They feel very alienated from France. This is why radical Islam is so attractive because it gives them a sense of meaning in their life.”

Jordan J. Ballor writes a retrospective on Bonhoeffer at Public Discourse:

The day after Hitler was elected chancellor, Bonhoeffer gave a radio address in which he sharply criticized the currently fashionable and tyrannical understanding of the autonomous “Leader” (Führer). In Hitler’s rise to power, Bonhoeffer detected a dangerous connection between the will of the masses and an idolatrous concentration of power devoid of accountability and responsibility to any higher authority.

This conception of the Leader as an “office” was qualitatively different from previous ideas of divinely instituted political authority. The Leader was the expression of the individual will par excellence, and in his person vicariously represented the fulfillment of the masses. In this way, the mass individualism manifested itself in a kind of collectivism, with the Leader acting as lord over the masses.

Among other things, argued Bonhoeffer, such an ideology ignored “the eternal law of individuality before God,” which is violated when a leader “takes on superhuman responsibility, which in the end will crush him.” The basic God-given task of government is to protect and promote the freedom and vitality of other institutions of social life, not to colonize and tyrannize them. Bonhoeffer thus opposed any totalizing ideology that attempted to subjugate all of human life and existence to political authority: “Where the state becomes the fulfillment of all spheres of human life and culture, it forfeits its true dignity, its specific authority as government.”

My wife gave me C. S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain to read. Actually she gave it to me to read 4 months ago, but I’m just now working through it. Excerpt:

Beyond all doubt, His idea of “goodness” differs from ours; but you need have no fear that, as you approach it, you will be asked simply to reverse your moral standards: When the relevant difference between the Divine ethics and your own appears to you, you will not, in fact, be in any doubt that the change demanded of you is in the direction you already call “better.”

Divine “goodness” differs from ours, but it is not sheerly different: it differs from ours not as white from black but as a perfect circle from a child’s first attempt to draw a wheel. But when the child has learned to draw, it will know that the circle it then makes is what it was trying to make from the very beginning.

This doctrine is presupposed in Scripture. Christ calls men to repent—a call which would be meaningless if God’s standard were sheerly different from that which they already knew and failed to practice. He appeals to our existing moral judgment—“Why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?”


I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside. I do not mean that the ghosts may not wish to come out of hell, in the vague fashion wherein an envious man “wishes” to be happy: but they certainly do not will even the first preliminary stages of that self abandonment through which alone the soul can reach any good. They enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded, and are therefore self-enslaved: just as the blessed, forever submitting to obedience, become through all eternity more and more free.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Russia knight to queen 4

European powerbrokers’ insistence on papering over national boundaries with a common currency is backfiring in a big way. Inviting PIIGS countries into the eurozone was like cosigning a mortgage for someone who can’t afford the monthly payments. You shouldn’t do it because ultimately it will be your ass on the line.

The Greeks piled up debt to 175 percent of GDP, forcing economic growth through hyper-fascist, demand-side policies, and like an itinerant college graduate they refuse to move out of mom and dad’s basement or pay rent. Now “united” Europe is forced to either:

  • Forgive a boatload of debt to Greece, risking bond rating devaluations on top of zero interest rates and quantitative easing
  • Push Greece into the waiting arms of a crafty enemy in Vladimir Putin

Soft underbelly of Europe, indeed! Russia, which is not manically enslaved to liberal pieties, continues to show poise in the 21st century fight for national survival. They’ve halted Western military expansion, they’ve honored savers with marketable interest rates, and they’ve relatively recovered from demographic collapse by pursuing a pro-family agenda and giving the gay mafia no quarter.

Were it not for the undemocratic, authoritarian means, Russia’s record would be enviable.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Founders’ noble lie

Two questions:

  1. For whom did the Founders intend the Constitution, and to whom did they devolve the rights to self-determination and self-government?
  2. If a people have no temptation to steal, do they need a law against stealing?

The better a people are, the less domineering a regime they need over them to keep them civil. The fate of limited government rests on how well the people govern themselves. Given our fallenness, something besides man himself and the law is necessary: a will submissive to the revelation of truth in Jesus.

The secular bargain starts at removing the ultimate stakes, the battle for souls, from the public sphere. Then the sole obsession of civil society becomes producing the effects of a circumcised heart in people without converting them, in the forms of good character, virtues, and civic-minded works. Secularism asks for the fruits without planting the seeds.

Many of the Founders were deists, or “the belief of one God, and an imitation of his moral character, or the practice of what are called moral virtues,” in Thomas Paine’s words. They saw the political utility of people holding to faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, while for themselves they assumed the task of willing themselves to virtue and righteousness. Put bluntly, many of them considered the gospel of Jesus a noble lie, intended for the ungovernable masses.

“As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his Divinity: tho’ it is a Question I do not dogmatise upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble. I see no harm however in its being believed, if that Belief has the good Consequence as probably it has, of making his Doctrines more respected and better observed, especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the Believers, in his Government of the World, with any particular Marks of his Displeasure.” –Benjamin Franklin, Letter to Ezra Stiles

Franklin, like aristocratic deists of his time (and like atheists/agnostics of our time) sought self-perfection through the will. His conceit was that he could achieve this on his own. Unfortunately, his personal failures didn’t reveal the truth of the scriptures to him. He wrote this at 20 years old:

It was about this time I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wished to live without committing any fault at any time; I would conquer all that either natural inclination, custom, or company might lead me into. As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other. But I soon found I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined. While my care was employed in guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another.

So, despite being a great man, Franklin was not accounted righteous by his faith, but held to the standard of his self-convicting conscience.

There is much of goodness that we can perceive on our own. Our individual knowledge of it varies by degrees. But the body nor the mind—nor even the mind of a genius like Franklin—can overcome the pull of flesh. Running from sin, as he tried to do, doesn’t work because there is no running from the flesh. Sin possesses us, and it is only Jesus who can push it out.

In faith we can attain the righteousness of moral perfection, but in matters of the soul it is best not to legislate, as the history of theocracies is replete with horror. Hence, the establishment clause. However, it is easier to legislate for a people whose wills you know belong to Him, knowing they won’t turn their liberty into license. For few non-believers are as well-bred and cultivated as Franklin. For a people easily given over to their passions, a thorough, totalitarian system is necessary to hold off descent into a Hobbesian state of nature.

P.S.: Paine, an early supporter of the French Revolution, and who wrote “my own mind is my own church,” saw firsthand the consequences of man assuming all divine authority over himself.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The rainbow state

Last but not least of Ross Douthat’s questions for Indiana’s critics is:

In the light of contemporary debates about religious parenting and gay or transgender teenagers, should Wisconsin v. Yoder be revisited? What about Pierce v. Society of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary?

Those cases affirmed the right of parents to educate their children, invalidating state laws mandating compulsory public education. The Supreme Court twice ruled the state did not have a compelling interest to overrule the natural rights of parents to raise their children.

But the natural rights of parents are poised to evolve dramatically. Just as the foundation for marriage definition disfunction was laid in the sexual libertinism of the ’60s and ’70s, a scientific revolution in how children are created is laying the groundwork for a Brave New World-style, state-centric apparatus to manage the rearing of children by licensed (i.e., politically correct) foster units of one, two, three, whatever.

The Indiana offensive has solidly grown the cult of unassailable individuality from the public sphere to the private sphere. Compulsion is the new acceptance is the new tolerance. The transition to the new regime is all but over when corporate America preemptively gets behind the cause to protect their brands.

Here’s what it means: The state will allow you to have property if you don’t use the property as an extension of your conscience, or unapproved discernment. A cog in the planned economy, as opposed to vocation and calling, is our economic destiny. The fascist, demand-side ethos (exemplified by Joaquin Castro) has mutated into a concept of property that exists at the will of customers taking their private sins public. “Running your business” now literally means letting others run your business. You take on all the risk, in turn they take all the benefit.

Now if it’s illegal to run a business outside the aegis of the LGBT mafia, how will holdouts to the new order be allowed to pass on their ideas of living for the Spirit instead of for the flesh to the next generation? It would be as if a stratum of society was raising its children to be bank robbers. Are not those parents a de facto insurgency, enemies of the rainbow state?

Well, let’s not overstate the case, “reasonable” voices would say. At the very least they are abusing their children with bad teaching, holding back their development into New American Citizens.

We’ve seen how aggressive the state is in kidnapping children from their parents “for their protection.” Surely “abusive” teachings can become grounds for every child to be forcibly adopted by the state, so their (re)education can continue unimpaired.

That’s one plausible answer.

Related: “Secession is the best outcome now.”