Saturday, May 30, 2015

Odds and ends 5/30/2015

Ted Cruz gives the perfect answer to a gay mafia apparatchik.

True words from Rand Paul speaking in Chicago, an urban war zone:

“There is crime going on all across America. It is not a racial thing, it is a spiritual problem,” Paul said. “I think government can play a role in public safety, but I don’t think government can mend a broken spirit. Government can’t provide you salvation, government can’t save you. ... Ultimately, salvation is something you accept yourselves.”

Grievance mongers like “Reverend” Al Sharpton don’t bring spiritual healing. They bring anger and strife.

Another urban war zone, Baltimore, needs uniformed men with guns, corrupt or not, to stop the people from killing each other. Once a society has reached this level of decay, self-immunized from regenerative forces of family, faith, and entrepreneurship, it is beyond saving. Buzzfeed reports:

In the weeks following the death of Freddie Gray and arrest of all six Baltimore police officers involved, the city's troubled western district has seen its murder rate skyrocket and arrests plunge.

Across the city, 100 people have been killed so far this year, far outpacing the 71 homicides by the same time in 2014. This week alone, at least 19 people were shot, four of them fatally, according to a Baltimore Sun count.

In the western district, the 28-day period ending on May 16 saw six homicides, up from only two in 2014, according to police data. Non-fatal shootings in the district over the same period jumped from only five in 2014 to 20 this year.

Meanwhile, arrests are down sharply in the city. In the three weeks after Gray’s death on April 19, officers made 1,452 arrests, the data shows. By comparison, the data reveals that during the same three-week period in 2013 and 2014, police made well over 2,000 arrests.

Police data also shows arrests have declined in recent weeks as compared to earlier this year. The first 15 days of May, for example, had fewer arrests than any previous half-month period in 2015.

Motherhood is a “social construct,” and thus should be deconstructed for self-authoring modern man. John Podhoretz writes:

Sokal’s hoax was a warning that academia’s embrace of post-modernism was leading it down the rabbit hole into the nonsense world of an Orwellian Wonderland in which, as in the case of gravity, down was up and up was down.

Well, it’s 19 years later, and Social Text has had the last laugh. We’re living in Wonderland. The Mad Hatter and the March Hare have won; the rest of us have lost.

Sokal came to mind on Sunday when the Boston Globe published an article by the president of one of America’s august schools of higher learning, Smith College.

The title of Kathleen McCartney’s op-ed: “Time to rethink our social construct of motherhood.” In the body of the article, McCartney argues: “Motherhood is a cultural invention. It reflects a belief adopted by society that is passed down from one generation to the next.”

Unlike Sokal, McCartney’s not kidding. It should be unnecessary to point this out, but evidently it’s not, so here goes: Motherhood, literally understood, is the root of humankind—the wellspring of human existence.

By definition, it pre-exists society because there could be no society without people, and people could not exist without motherhood.

The liberal fascists want the children. It’s so obvious it’s yawn-inducing at this point. Jayme Metzgar writes at the Federalist:

“I got interested in this question of what parents should and shouldn’t be allowed to do to, for, and with their children, because I was interested in equality of opportunity,” Swift begins in a benign, conversational tone. “The reason why children born to different families have very different chances in life is because of what happens within those families.” If you’re thinking that at this point he might suggest a few things parents can do to increase their children’s chances in life, you must not be a philosopher.

“One way philosophers might think about solving the social-justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family,” he continues, cheerfully. “If the family is this source of unfairness in society, then it looks plausible to think that if we were to abolish the family, we would create a more level playing field.”

Swift goes on to reassure his listeners that “nearly all philosophers” have concluded that kidnapping all children and raising them in state institutions would be a “really bad idea.” So the next challenging philosophical conundrum is: “Why, exactly, would that be a bad idea? Why, exactly, is it good that children be raised by parents?” Now, I’ve worked with abandoned Romanian children for many years, and I’ve seen what it looks like when the state raises children. At this point in my listening experience, I resisted the urge to throw my laptop across the room.

It was the next part of the program, though, that ended up grabbing headlines. “What we realized we needed,” Swift explains, “was a way of thinking about what it was we wanted to allow parents to do for their children, and what it was that we didn’t need to allow parents to do for their children, if allowing those activities would create unfairnesses for other people’s children.”

It won’t be long before progressives realize they can’t “grandfather” biological parents into the universal foster care system because they aren’t trustworthy agents of the state.

Fairfax County, Virginia, is doing its part to raise the next generation of identitarians. From Fox News via Pajama Media:

Get a load of what the kids are going to be learning in middle school:

“Students will be provided definitions for sexual orientation terms heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality; and the gender identity term transgender,” the district’s recommendations state.

“Emphasis will be placed on recognizing that everyone is experiencing changes and the role of respectful, inclusive language in promoting an environment free of bias and discrimination.”

Eighth graders will be taught that individual identity “occurs over a lifetime and includes the component of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

“Individual identity will also be described as having four parts – biological gender, gender identity (includes transgender), gender role, and sexual orientation (includes heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual).”

The district will also introduce young teenagers to the “concept that sexuality is a broader spectrum.” By tenth grade, they will be taught that one’s sexuality “develops throughout a lifetime.”

Unsaid but implicit in the teaching is the principle that every individual’s identity, whatever it is, should be accepted. They’d be better off teaching Paul’s instruction for acceptance: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:7). Christ accepts us, sinfulness and all, faithful that we are dead to sin by carrying His death and resurrection in our bodies.

Dan Popp writes an excellent article about the role of law, analyzing 1 Timothy 1:8-11, but I think he slips a little bit:

Law is made for (or set against) the lawless. The remedy for a lawless person is to feel the full weight of just laws. Many conservatives make a self-refuting argument against gun control laws: Criminals don’t obey laws, therefore [gun control] laws are useless. I complained about this in an article called “Conservatives arguing badly.” No, God says, law is for the lawless. If there’s anything an evil person needs, it’s the law, and if there’s any justification for law it’s that lawbreakers exist.

The conservative argument against gun control is that it’s effective in disarming the law-abiding public, leaving them defenseless against evildoers. If a gun control law could predict and target only evildoers, I’d be for it.

Why not more skilled immigration? Let the Daily Caller explain:

Rubio’s “I-squared” bill would triple the number of temporary guest workers businesses could bring into the country every year, and allow for a virtually unlimited number of university-based green cards.

The big businesses backing this bill and clamoring for more guest workers insist they can’t find enough Americans willing or able to fill certain “high-skilled” jobs. Rubio obviously agrees, and has argued more guest workers and immigration generally will result in more jobs for Americans.


“It’s basically a quest for cheap labor,” Norm Matloff, a computer science professor at the University of California Davis, told TheDCNF. “The abuse of H-1B pervades the entire industry. They all could find American workers if they wanted to, but they want cheap labor and they want immobile labor.”

“Its only purpose is to please the corporate interests that are very heavy campaign contributors,” he added. “That is literally the bottom line.”

The ex-Disney employee concurred, calling the notion of a shortage “completely insane,” given his experience. “There’s not a shortage of IT workers but all the jobs are vanishing,” he said. “I’m completely, completely disenfranchised by IT.”

“I want to have nothing to do with it now,” he continued. “I’m doing my best to get out of it, because there is no future in IT. I would never recommend it to my children.”

Nearly 75 percent of Americans with STEM degrees are not working in STEM Fields, according to Census data, and only 3.8 million Americans with STEM degrees actually hold STEM jobs.

I’ve seen it firsthand. One of the largest employers in San Antonio has imported thousands of Indians to take IT jobs. It’s great for corporate profits, not so much for local IT workers who are priced out of a job.

Ross Douthat debunks some liberal fact-free bromides about Christian priorities:

Last week two prominent Americans — an eminent social scientist and the president of the United States — decided to answer the question: How have America’s churches failed the poor?

Their answer was one deeply congenial to the progressive mind: They’ve been too obsessed with the culture war.

“Over the last 30 years,” Harvard’s Robert Putnam told the Washington Post, “most organized religion has focused on issues regarding sexual morality, such as abortion, gay marriage, all of those. I’m not saying if that’s good or bad, but that’s what they’ve been using all their resources for ... It’s been entirely focused on issues of homosexuality and contraception and not at all focused on issues of poverty.”

President Obama’s version, delivered when he shared a stage with Putnam at Georgetown University, was nuanced but similar in thrust: “Despite great caring and concern,” the president remarked, when churches pick “the defining issue” that’s “really going to capture the essence of who we are as Christians,” fighting poverty is often seen as merely “nice to have” compared to “an issue like abortion.”

It would be too kind to call these comments wrong; they were ridiculous. Not only because (as Putnam acknowledged) believers personally give abundantly to charity, but because institutionally the churches of America use “all their resources” in ways that completely belie the idea that they’re obsessed with culture war.

As Mark Hemingway of the Weekly Standard pointed out, “Even the most generous estimates of the resources devoted to pro-life causes and organizations defending traditional marriage are just a few hundred million dollars.” Whereas the budgets of American religious charities and schools and hospitals and other nonprofits are tabulated in the tens of billions. (Indeed, as Bloomberg View’s Megan McArdle noted, some of that money — from Catholic sources — paid Obama’s first community-organizer salary.)

This reality is reflected in the atmosphere of most churches and the public statements of their leaders. Anyone who tells you that America’s pastors are obsessed with homosexuality or abortion only hears them through a media filter. You can attend Masses or megachurches for months without having those issues intrude; you can bore yourself to tears reading denominational statements and bishops’ documents (true long before Pope Francis) with a similar result. The belief that organized religion is organized around culture war is largely a conceit of the irreligious.

How has America’s government failed the poor? Or, how hasn’t it failed the poor? The Great Society turns 50 this year. It promised to end poverty in our time.

Iraq continues to crumble.

“What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight,” Carter said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “They were not outnumbered, but in fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. And yet they failed to fight.”

They didn’t want to die for something not worth dying for.

Now that the Texas drought is over, I wonder how the billion-dollar state water plan will be impacted. Hopefully we won’t over-stress and over-manage our resources like California.

Meanwhile level-headed Israel does what it needs to survive:

As California and other western areas of the United States grapple with an extreme drought, a revolution has taken place here. A major national effort to desalinate Mediterranean seawater and to recycle wastewater has provided the country with enough water for all its needs, even during severe droughts. More than 50 percent of the water for Israeli households, agriculture and industry is now artificially produced.

In the second round of the NBA playoffs, the Clippers regressed towards the mean. They shot 42.7 percent in games 5 through 7 against the Rockets, all losses. There was no way they were going to continue to shoot 50 percent from the floor, which they did against the Spurs in games 4 through 7.

The hack-a-Shaq strategy made no difference to the outcome. The Rockets actually missed more free throws than the Clippers and won all three contests handily. Had the Clippers made 100 percent of their free throws, they still would have lost all three games. The hysteria over the game’s integrity can now end, as well as the irrational push to give bad free throw-shooting teams a strategic advantage.

By the way, I predict the Warriors will beat the Cavaliers in the Finals in 5 games.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Different people make a difference

Free market apostles say capital is blind. It flows to the most efficient producers. That’s if maximizing capital is the only variable of people’s economic decisionmaking.

People belie that theory by declining marginal savings or marginal utility gains in favor of interacting instead with others whom they commune with socially, ideologically, religiously, nationally, or otherwise. For transactions aren’t truly faceless. Your money goes to people, and people are not solely economic units. They have affiliations they intend to build up, as you do. Not all those affiliations are consistent with each other in aim or substance. Some discrimination, or difference seeking, is inevitable.

Goods in and of themselves are neutral, but people aren’t. Different people in different places can manufacture, assemble, distribute, buy, and sell goods that have minimal cultural impact. Relocate those people to relocate economic activity in your backyard, and they will make their new place their home. In a community, different people make a difference. The tradeoff is the social costs.

Does this sound familiar: “You can take the man out of [blank], but you can’t take [blank] out of the man”? This pride of place is well and good if you’re breaking in newcomers to “how things are done here,” but suicidal if you’re moving to a new place with different customs. If I could have made Maryland more like Texas while I lived there, I would have. Just think what a million Texans would do to a state like Maryland. It wouldn’t be Maryland anymore, it’d be Virginia!

When people are traded like goods, nations abet their cultural obsolescence. Conserving local identity is worth more than a few cents per widget on economies of scale’s diminishing returns.

Related: “Economic anonymity.”

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Papa Guv

You have to laugh.

Mr. Duncan touted the possibility of “public boarding schools.” He said to the gathered crowd of federal bureaucrats and apparatchiks, “One idea that I threw out ... is the idea of public boarding schools. That’s a little bit of a different idea—a controversy (sic) idea—but the question is do we have some children where there’s not a mom, there’s not a dad, there’s not a grandma, there’s just nobody at home?”

“There’s just certain kids we should have 24/7 to really create a safe environment and give them a chance to be successful,” he said.

Since when did liberal masterminds start seeing having no mother or father as detrimental to a child’s development? They claim the opposite in federal courtrooms to redefine marriage. Furthermore, why do liberal policies incentivize divorce and separating children earlier and more often from their parents’ home? Why are liberals passing laws treating non-gendered adults 1, 2, 3, etc. as just as good as biological parents?

They want the children, that’s why. There is too much inequality and variability in children raised by their own parents, so progressives undermine the family to put themselves in charge of an impersonal, industrial-scale daycare. Progressives, like their Communist cousins, need complete control of the population to reorder natural man to realize their machinations.

They do this under the guise of caring, of giving children the best chance at success. They presume they know better, when of course they don’t. Knowledge is as elusive to them as it is to all of us. There is no secret formula that they are in sole possession of that will enable them to raise every child as if it was their own.

We can’t stop them if they have their minds set on it. They have the power and the aegis of the state behind them. But, insofar as it is up to the people, who in a constitutional republic predicate the form of government over them, their success in building families takes away progressives’ argument for a better, more efficient way to socially organize.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Odds and ends 5/14/2015

Some good commentary here about “turning the other cheek.”

George Neumayr erupts in a classic, must-read piece on same-sex marriage. Here it is in its entirety:

What Justice Kennedy regards as liberty, America’s founding fathers considered license. Casting license as liberty increasingly defines modern America, as it hurtles toward the full embrace of all things unnatural.

The founding fathers saw liberty as a gift from God, with limits set by God. For Justice Kennedy, willful man, not God, determines liberty. Whatever humans deem liberty, no matter how obviously it repudiates God’s order of creation, is liberty. Kennedy spelled this out in his famous description of abortion rights.

“These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the 14th Amendment,” he wrote. “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the state.”

The radical relativism contained in this passage continues to unfold, driving out of almost all discussions in modern America any notion of a God-based concept of liberty. In the absence of that understanding, the Supreme Court will inevitably endorse a constitutional right to gay marriage.

What God and the states have joined together in marriage, activist justices are eager to put asunder. At this week’s Supreme Court hearing on the question of the constitutionality of gay marriage, it appears that no one asked if Kennedy’s understanding of the 14th Amendment was actually shared by the authors of that amendment.

In a spirit of faux-objectivity, justices, including Kennedy, did ask advocates for gay marriage on Tuesday why the court should overturn a definition of marriage accepted by mankind for thousands of years. But given that these same justices have had no problem ignoring tradition on other issues such as abortion, those questions don’t indicate much. Kennedy, in previous rulings, has said that tradition should give way to claims of modern enlightenment.

One would think justices asked to assess the constitutionality of a national right to gay marriage might focus their questions on the views of the authors of the Constitution. But that’s a subject they wish to avoid, since it is so abundantly clear that the founding fathers never intended to deprive the people of the right to pass laws in accordance with God’s will. They would have considered a judicial denial of that right to be straightforward evidence of tyranny and a justification for the formation of a new government.

Homosexual activists claim overwhelming popularity for gay marriage, even as they rely upon judges to do what they can’t achieve democratically. These activists are not confident enough in the public’s support to pursue a constitutional amendment in favor of gay marriage. They know it would fail. So they need Kennedy and company to find gay marriage in the penumbras of the Constitution.

And they will. After the court declared the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional, Justice Scalia predicted that Kennedy and company would apply the same reasoning to all state bans on gay marriage:

“It takes real cheek for today’s majority to assure us, as it is going out the door, that a constitutional requirement to give formal recognition to same-sex marriage is not at issue here — when what has preceded that assurance is a lecture on how superior the majority’s moral judgment in favor of same-sex marriage is to the Congress’s hateful moral judgment against it. I promise you this: The only thing that will ‘confine’ the Court’s holding is its sense of what it can get away with.”

The justices appear to have concluded that that moment has arrived. They fear the backlash of opponents of gay marriage far less than the wrath of an impatient liberal elite, which can’t rest until all of God’s commandments have been shattered.

Justice Kennedy’s America is coming to pass, with the natural law replaced by man-centered delusions. Progress in it, from the reverential coverage of Bruce Jenner’s “journey” toward self-mutilation to the endless euphoria about gay marriage, is measured not by respect for God-ordained realities but by contempt for them. A Supreme Court ruling that dignifies all of this as “liberty” will not make the nihilism underneath it any less destructive.

David French sees the end game:

As the French revolutionaries learned, you can’t replace something with nothing. Thus, the revolutionary ideals themselves must be rendered sacred. In France, that meant the Cult of Reason or—if you weren’t willing to kick faith entirely to the curb—the Cult of the Supreme Being. Here, we’ve created the Cult of Sexual Autonomy, and this is its statement of faith from Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote in Obergefell: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

A note on technocratic reproduction from Jean Lloyd at Public Discourse:

As Katie Davis has put it, “Adoption is a redemptive response to tragedy that happens in this broken world.” It is a tragedy for any child to be separated from his or her biological family, the father and mother that are the source of that child’s being. Overall, adopted children have more difficulties than children raised by their biological families, even in married mother-father scenarios such as mine. Adoption serves to provide what was lost or not possible where there has sadly been a disruption of the natural family order.

But in cases like that of the “father” described above, the loss of a mother is not viewed as a tragedy at all. Rather, this motherlessness is deliberately sought; it is viewed as a triumph of technology to be celebrated. Who can deny that the child is being viewed only from the perspective of the adults’ wishes? No one considers the rights of the child who is deliberately deprived of the love of a mother.

Jack from Manhattan astutely observes progressives’ totalitarian annexation of the family:

Baltimore leads the nation insofar as using government as an instrument of social engineering. There’s a social program for every problem, real and imagined, in Baltimore, but as we all know, government programs are at the base of the decay. Social programs are designed to be the daddy to too many urban youth, who subsequently don’t know how to act because the father-figure, whose job it is to lay down discipline isn’t there.

And that is at the root of our social ills, the breakdown of the nuclear family. Correction: it’s not so much a breakdown as it is a systematic takedown of the nuclear family as designed by the American Left. The Democrat Party is the vehicle for statism in this country and the nuclear family is the last bulwark against statism.

Children who come out of families with both mom and dad present are less likely to end up on welfare, in jail, or plagued with other social pathologies that in the modern era are a drain on the taxpayers. Democrats needed to dissolve traditional familial ties so they could replace biological parents with their own ideas. It’s a subversion of all that is good and healthy for society to aggrandize those who think of themselves as morally and intellectually superior to everyone else.

Suzanne Venker asks and answers:

Why are men here and abroad avoiding the altar in spades?

1. Because they can: Men used to marry to have sex and a family. They married for love, too, but they had to marry the girl before taking her to bed, or at least work really, really hard to wear her down. Those days are gone.

When more women make themselves sexually available, the pool of marriageable men diminishes. “In a world where women do not say no, the man is never forced to settle down and make serious choices,” writes George Gilder, author of Men and Marriage.

Scoff if you wish. Call me a fuddy-duddy. But how’s that new plan working out?

2. Because there’s nothing in it for them: What exactly does marriage offer men today? “Men know there’s a good chance they’ll lose their friends, their respect, their space, their sex life, their money and—if it all goes wrong—their family,” says Helen Smith, Ph.D., author of Men on Strike. “They don’t want to enter into a legal contract with someone who could effectively take half their savings, pension and property when the honeymoon period is over. Men aren’t wimping out by staying unmarried or being commitment phobes. They’re being smart.”

Unlike women, men lose all power after they say “I do.” Their masculinity dies, too.

What’s left of it, that is. In the span of just a few decades, America has demoted men from respected providers and protectors of the family to superfluous buffoons. Today’s sitcoms and commercials routinely paint a portrait of the idiot husband whose wife is smarter and more capable than he.

There was a time when wives respected their husbands. There was a time when wives took care of their husbands as they expected their husbands to take care of them.

Or perhaps therein lies the rub. If women no longer expect or even want men to “take care of” them—since women can do everything men can do and better, thank you very much, feminism—perhaps the flipside is the assumption that women don’t need to take care of husbands, either. And if no one’s taking care of anyone, why the hell marry?

Because what goes for some people does not go for all. Buck the trend. Be the exception.

Vox Day comments:

Feminism has a) eliminated any need for ALPHA males to marry, b) significantly reduced the desirability of marriage for all men, and c) reduced the ability of non-ALPHA males to marry women congruent with their socio-sexual rank.

What it has predictably created is a quasi-harem situation where ALPHA males maintain stables of women over time who have sex with them instead of settling down to married life with lesser males until they are too old to be of interest to the ALPHAs.

Jeremy Warner sounds the alarm bells on our debt-addled growth miasma in the UK Telegraph:

Here’s an astonishing statistic; more than 30pc of all government debt in the eurozone—around €2 trillion of securities in total—is trading on a negative interest rate.

With the advent of European Central Bank quantitative easing, what began four months ago when 10-year Swiss yields turned negative for the first time has snowballed into a veritable avalanche of negative rates across European government bond markets. In the hunt for apparently “safe assets,” investors have thrown caution to the wind, and collectively determined to pay governments for the privilege of lending to them.

On a country by country basis, the statistics are even more startling. According to investment bank Jefferies, some 70pc of all German bunds now trade on a negative yield. In France, it’s 50pc, and even in Spain, which was widely thought insolvent only a few years ago, it’s 17pc.

Not only has this never happened before on such a scale, but it marks a scarcely believable turnaround on the situation at the height of the eurozone crisis just a little while back, when some European bond markets traded on yields that reflected the very real possibility of default. Yet far from being a welcome sign of returning economic confidence, this almost surreal state of affairs actually signals the very reverse. How did we get here, and what does it mean for the future? Whichever way you come at it, the answer to this second question is not good, not good at all.

What makes today’s negative interest rate environment so worrying is this; to the extent that demand is growing at all in the world economy, it seems again to be almost entirely dependent on rising levels of debt. The financial crisis was meant to have exploded the credit bubble once and for all, but there’s very little sign of it. Rising public indebtedness has taken over where households and companies left off. And in terms of wider credit expansion, emerging markets have simply replaced Western ones. The wake-up call of the financial crisis has gone largely unheeded.

The combined public debt of the G7 economies alone has grown by close to 40 percentage points to around 120pc of GDP since the start of the crisis, while globally, the total debt of private non-financial sectors has risen by 30pc, far in advance of economic growth.

This article in The Hill is great for pointing out Ben Bernanke’s lunacy and his passive-aggressive defense of QE, but this statistic is great by itself:

Before the Dodd-Frank bank regulation law passed in 2010, an average of more than 100 new banks opened each year; in the five years since 2010, only one new bank has opened.

Liberal scrooges have turned America into Pottersville.

The time is right to dust off this 2013 Bloomberg article, “Big-bank regulator targets the little guy.”

The New York Times’ Benjamin Hoffman joins the chorus of people calling for the NBA to change a rule that allows teams to take advantage of an opponent’s poor free-throw shooting:

With both coaches in this series having tried the strategy and failed, perhaps when they face off in Game 5 on Tuesday the contest can involve more basketball and fewer free throws.

Except intentional fouling wasn’t the reason the Rockets lost game 4 to the Clippers. They lost because of their 21 team turnovers and their poor shooting (41 percent).

The Spurs employed the Hack-a-Shaq strategy against the Clippers frequently in the first round, but it proved to not be the deciding factor. DeAndre Jordan missed an equal amount of free throws (6.7 per game) in Spurs wins as he did in Clippers wins (6.3 per game). The Spurs lost because they made fewer shots than the Clippers down the stretch. In games 4, 5, 6, and 7, the Spurs shot 45 percent to the Clippers’ 50 percent. (Turnovers were a wash.) Not surprisingly, opposing teams would rather live with DeAndre Jordan’s 42 percent free-throw rate than the Clippers’ excellent team shooting.

Like Shaquille O’Neal, DeAndre Jordan is a very good center who misses a lot of free throws. Unlike Shaq, Jordan’s team hasn’t been good enough to win a championship despite their fatal flaw. Yet. They could win it this year if they continue to shoot well.

What Hoffman implies by “more basketball and fewer free throws” is that free throws aren’t a fundamental part of the game, and that intentional fouling isn’t a legitimate strategy. But the strategy wouldn’t exist if free-throw shooting wasn’t an obvious flaw in Jordan’s game. Every team has flaws that opponents try to exploit. Changing the rule would give the worst free-throw shooting teams a competitive advantage. If no one can force Jordan to the line, he would be invincible on the court.

Listen to a real basketball mind, Gregg Popovich, break it down:

“There will be a lot of discussion about the fouling, as there should be. But principle-wise, I feel really strongly that it’s a tactic that can be used. If someone can’t shoot free throws, that’s their problem. As I’ve said before, if we’re not allowed to do something to take advantage of a team’s weakness, a trade should be made before each game. ‘We won’t foul your guy, but you promise not to block any of our shots.’ Or, ‘We won’t foul your guy, and you allow us to shoot all uncontested shots.’

“So we’d have to make a trade. On an intellectual or principle basis, I think you’re on high ground. Now, visual-wise, it’s awful. It couldn’t be worse. I tend to side on the principle side where it’s basketball, and if we have a guy who can’t shoot and it’s an important part of the game, I should probably get him off the court. We’ll see how it comes out. I’m sure the way it looks will be discussed very seriously by the league.”

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Unwriting man

Redefining what is marriage suborns natural familial relations to the will of the state. Jeff Shafer writes an article at the Federalist that belongs in the canon of warnings of the consequences of reordering the cosmos to make same-sex pairings equal to heterosexual pairings. It’s equal parts Berdyaev and Gilder. Excerpts:

The ideology denying the meaningfulness of biological ties for human identity is called same-sex marriage.

There is a biotechnical revolution upon us that treats children as products to manufacture. In the United States and around the “civilized” world, individuals flip through catalogues or search online to purchase sperm and eggs from (usually anonymous) donors whose genetic characteristics they find appealing. These shoppers then hire lab technicians to create embryos for implanting in a womb, often of a leased surrogate, for purchaser retrieval after gestation completes.

Thereby do these people manipulate children into existence in a manner divorced from marital love, in which adults intend to deprive them of relationship with or knowledge of at least one, and perhaps both, of their biological parents, as well as their extended kin.

This practice of human reproduction without relationship, of reproduction arranged by commercial transaction with service providers, graphically instantiates the precepts of same-sex marriage ideology. By eliminating the husband-wife marital norm, that ideology sunders even the conceptual connection of the marital union and fertility.

Commercially arranged reproduction also abolishes the togetherness of mother and father in the act culminating in the child’s origins. Indeed, in theory (and ordinary practice) the mother and father are strangers to each other. A typical case involves individuals who sell their gametes intending to never know or be known by their children or co-parent. So also with another alien to the marital relationship: the surrogate; her womb is not understood as a natural component within the relational complex of marriage and motherhood, but as a utilitarian machine to be leased and exploited by those with the economic advantage to do so and the wish to summon a child into being for their custody.


The defining feature of the historic marriage community, after all, is the sexual difference of its non-fungible constituents. To obliterate the sexual-difference feature of marriage is not a charitable expansion of its borders, but a radical repudiation both of its character and, ominously, of the character of the human person it acknowledges and protects.

The change in civilization that stipulates marriage as sexually undifferentiated, that denies the deep human relevance of being male and female in relationship, necessarily entails redefining parent. For if marriage is to be the egalitarian institution of adult rights now insisted, rather than a relation founded in sexual difference and child-regard, the requirements of “equality” mean (although this implicates an enormous irony) that same-sex couples get to have and raise kids, too.

But couples of the same sex don’t and can’t do anything procreative within their relationship. So by redefining marriage, the law must make some other moves, too: among which is valorizing the technological and other innovative takes on parenthood, equalizing their status with that of the natural-relational process. That means the law must ratify as normative—not tragic or exceptional—both adoption and the technological production of children from gametes and bodies gathered from outside the partners’ union. In such case, the law denies (among other things) that children’s identity is, in any sense that could be legally prioritized, as the natural issue of the joining of their mother and father. Therein lies the acute alteration to the governing anthropology required of societies adopting same-sex marriage.

So not only does same-sex marriage ideology redefine parent, but also child. For on its account, a child comes into the world not naturally related to anyone, but only transactionally connected to the persons responsible for fetching him through various means. No child in a same-sex household derives from the relationship of the partners in that home; every such child has been torn from at least one parent. Rather than a child’s dissociation from parents being a tragedy, it is a necessity and design feature of the same-sex regime.

Pay attention now. This next part is crucial.

The same-sex ideology, then, presents an unsettling logic that forbids us to even know that an orphan’s condition as an orphan is something to mourn. This nouveau anthropology presents children as, in principle, individuals as such, with no natural relation to or necessary identity bound up in their biological mother and father.

If that truthfully describes their identity, then their continuing detachment from biological parents is trivial. And their assignment to homes (foster, adoptive, or orphanage) is not something we properly may classify as a deviation. In fact, it might be the most enlightened sort of condition for children, as it more vividly incarnates their liberation from assumptions insensible except in terms of the now-renounced marriage model that assigns children’s identity and place with their mother and father.


If, in the name of “equality,” the Supreme Court this summer constitutionalizes a national mandate for de-sexed marriage, it is unclear how the Court thereafter could avoid cleansing its own case law of its “unequal” preferential treatment of biological parents. Or how Congress in the exercise of its Fourteenth Amendment Section Five enforcement authority won’t be within its rights to banish from state domestic relations law those policies based on biological bond favoritism or that otherwise imply a legally cognizable significance to kinship relations. A ruling that traditional marriage law is illegal invites an avalanche.


The refusal to countenance the sexual difference of male and female that is central to the marriage relation implicates more than the roster of who will be called “married.” Replacing the law’s acknowledgement of the essential significance of kinship and man-woman complementarity with contingent preference and egalitarian artifice means the government denies the pre-political and natural dimension of the family that until now authorized its substantial immunity from statist interventions.

Rod Dreher takes the idea and runs with it:

They deny that there is a link between biology and parenthood. That’s something we can accept, to a limited degree; adoptive parents are often much better at fulfilling the emotional role of parents than the biological parents of the child. But that truth does not obviate the general fact that there is a powerful link between biology, parenthood, and the family.

In order to justify biotech reproduction outside the womb, in order to justify surrogacy, and in order to justify same-sex marriage, that natural connection had to be denied. It is the nominalist position: there is nothing natural inherent in the structure of nature; it’s only matter, upon which we can impose our will.

What this amounts to is philosophers saying, as these men do, that biological parents do not possess the right to parent their own offspring. If it is not a right, it is a privilege conferred by the state, and if it is a privilege conferred by the state, the state can modify it boundlessly, even withdraw it, for the sake of the state’s interests.

Once a fact is accepted as true, and the logic that inheres in it takes root, nothing can halt the momentum of logical deductions except acknowledgment of a more fundamental principle. The anarchy of the devolving family—a product of, and soon to be victim of, evolution, secular materialists tell—will not jibe the indomitable will of man, unless its fundamental place in the identity of human beingness is restored in our collective conscience.

So the question posed by Ross Douthat about the rights of parents to educate their children wasn’t an extraordinary one. For the fact of parenthood as a condition of human relations is not politically given anymore.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The debt effect

What does debt do to an economy? Salim Furth writes:

Economic scholars have recently shown how high government debt has a negative effect on long-term economic growth.

Government debt crowds out private investment, slowing the growth of gross domestic product (GDP) and wages. The consensus is that “debt drag” gets worse as debt rises. Like piling bricks on a sled, each new annual deficit adds to the weight of the existing debt.


When savings are invested in government bonds, they cannot also be invested in productive capital. Since capital augments labor productivity and wages, lower capital accumulation leads to lower wages.

It’s intuitive. Debt is backward-looking. Debt divests the future. Debt is paying more money now for something that can be bought for less in the past.

After a quick and dirty analysis of debt-to-GDP ratio and GDP growth, I found the three most prosperous decades since World War II (’50s, ’60s, and ’90s) occurred as the debt-to-GDP ratio was shrinking. The worst decade for GDP growth, the 2000s, occurred during a debt spike. Further statistical analysis of the post-war era shows 4-year cumulative GDP growth is impacted .24 percent per 1 percent change in debt-to-GDP, on average. The top 7 4-year periods for GDP growth averaged 22.1 percent growth and 17.1 percent shrinkage in debt-to-GDP. The worst 6 periods averaged 2.7 percent GDP growth and 17.4 percent growth in debt-to-GDP.

U.S. GDP has been averaging 2.2 percent annual growth since the Great Recession. Insofar as that’s bad, Keynesians like Paul Krugman blame “austerity” for sapping demand from the economy. While Republican budget cuts have reduced the yearly budget deficit from 13 digits to 12, the government is nowhere close to the real austerity policies in effect during past boom years, when America ran year-over-year budget surpluses.

At any rate, I think most of the post-recession growth is due to bloated stock evaluations pumped up by the Federal Reserve. Forget the unemployment rate. The unemployment rate is good only propaganda. Labor participation is down, full-time jobs are down, wages are down. They called the period between 1933 and 1937 a recovery, too.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Romans 13 ≠ libertarian

In chasing after legal weed, God’s will be done, says Texas State Rep. David Simpson:

“All that God created is good, including marijuana. God did not make a mistake when he made marijuana that the government needs to fix,” he said. “Let’s allow the plant to be utilized for good—helping people with seizures, treating warriors with PTSD, producing fiber and other products—or simply for beauty and enjoyment. Government prohibition should be for violent actions that harm your neighbor—not of the possession, cultivation, and responsible use of plants.”

In an ideal world, that is what government does. Also in an ideal world, people do not stupefy themselves, which is precisely what weed legalization invites. That’s the reason people support it, so they can get high.

This Ayn Rand fantasy that no one is “harmed” by the man who indulges in quiet self-destruction works in fiction. But in reality our lives touch others’ lives. Self-destruction is something of a misnomer, as harm is hardly limited to the self.

The East Texas Tea Partier said fellow Republican, Gov. Greg Abbott, has vowed to “expand liberty in Texas” and he hopes Abbott will allow marijuana plants to be used “for God’s glory” outside of government restrictions.

“He started with open carry,” said Simpson. “Well, I would hope he would consider identifying the innate goodness of everything God has made, and allowing those pants to be used for God’s glory, and the good of your neighbor.”

Simpson told radio host Chad Hasty this week that big government solutions to marijuana are off-base. He instead pointed to the Bible as proof that “more bureaucracies” and civil intrusion into people’s personal lives is the wrong path toward “liberty.”

“Civil government should value everything God made and leave people alone unless they meddle with their neighbor,” Simpson noted on his blog.

“We don’t’ need a registry or more bureaucracies. We just need to hold accountable for their actions,” he explained. “Under the new covenant, if you look at Romans 13 [in the Bible], the role of the civil magistrate is to control or to punish when you have harmed your neighbor. And I don’t want the civil magistrate telling me how to worship and when to worship and dealing with my relationship with God or even coming into my home and telling how to do this or that.”

Interesting eisegesis. Although I’m sympathetic to this view of less officious, less meddlesome government, that’s not what Paul’s talking about in Romans 13. He’s talking about how you should generally submit to civil authorities, who will commend or punish you for your good or wrong deeds (Romans 13:3). He’s not describing the proper, or a limited, role of government, but rather the Christian’s role under any government.

“I think this would allow parents to be involved more with their children, and teach them—like with coffee or tea or with water,” said Simpson. “Respect it, and know that it can harm us if we don’t treat it right.”

That last part makes sense, at least. It’s just hard to see how government can encourage sobriety in an unsober people by not punishing non-sobriety. It helps to know the people are level-headed and won’t abuse their liberty.

A people prone to crimes X, Y, Z need laws that punish X, Y, Z. For every people, a government to suit them.

Related: “Monads in Massachusetts.”