Thursday, July 30, 2015

Odds and ends 7/30/2015

Charles Johnson manages to channel George Gilder the sexual theorist and George Gilder the tech guru in the same article. Around these parts, that’s a good thing.

Playboy once asked author Ray Bradbury why science fiction was the “purview of young men.” His response is worth recalling now that Ellen Pao has resigned as Reddit’s CEO amid a censoring scandal.

There are two races of people—men and women—no matter what women’s libbers would have you pretend. The male is motivated by toys and science because men are born with no purpose in the universe except to procreate. There is lots of time to kill beyond that. They’ve got to find work. Men have no inherent center to themselves beyond procreating. Women, however, are born with a center. They can create the universe, mother it, teach it, nurture it. Men read science fiction to build the future. Women don’t need to read it. They are the future.

Young men take risks (invent the future) to win over young women (the future). They conquer frontiers to be worthy. America was once that frontier, but with illegal immigration and restrictive housing policy, she’s filling up. The few frontiers that remain are in the mind. Science fiction, Steve Sailer has written, was the new gateway to that “final frontier.” But even that frontier is fading. NASA is grounded and appeasing Muslims while SpaceX rockets are blowing up.

Where are the places for young men to imagine the future in a filled-up frontier? They have but two choices: videogames, where there are infinite worlds to explore and conquer; or the Internet, where there are unimaginable fortunes to be made from weaponizing social science and software. With everything to lose, these young men are fighting back against corruption (#Gamergate) and censorship (Reddit revolt). Aristotle argued that the human sciences were capable of infinite progress because man’s mind was capable of infinite thought. As aging boomers increasingly regulate the world of stuff and atoms, the Internet—that home for infinite thought and bits—is the only place where that freedom frontier is possible.

George Gilder wrote a monograph supporting the gold standard. In it he recounts his theory of money as information. Excerpts:

The older case for gold sprang from the idea that its value as money derives from its objective value in economic activity. But this view has it exactly backwards. Researches in Bitcoin and other digital currencies have shown that the real source of the value of any money is its authenticity and reliability as a measuring stick of economic activity. A measuring stick cannot be part of what it measures. The theorists of Bitcoin explicitly tied its value to the passage of time, which proceeds relentlessly beyond the reach of central banks.

Bitcoin is a major experiment in new Internet infrastructure, but gold works the same way in the global economy. Gold can function as money because it operates outside the financial economy as an index of the time it takes to extract it from the earth. Because it becomes more costly and time consuming to extract thinner and deeper lodes of the metal from more remote places, gold remains a lodestar amid the monetary turmoil. The cost of extraction rises almost in proportion to the advance of mining technology. Gold thus cancels capital and technology and becomes almost a pure measure of time.

The source of the value of money is time—irreversible, inexorably scarce, impossible to hoard or steal, distributed with remorseless equality to rich and poor alike. As an index of time, gold imparts the accurate price signals needed for sustained economic growth and expanded opportunity.

...

As an economy grows, with ever more abundance deriving from ever more learning, only one resource grows relatively scarce in proportion. That resource is time. It is the most real and irreversible of all constituents of value.

The expansion of per capita wealth and income in an economy means an increase in choices and possibilities, ways of using your time, and claims on your attention. Although some new goods and services increase your efficiency and some extend your years of good health, the growth of an economy inexorably presses in on the residual resource—the hours in your day.

These hours (and minutes and seconds) are what you actually spend or waste, invest or splurge, save or sleep away. Money offers an accurate measure of earnings and expenditures chiefly as it reflects these costs of time, gauged in two irreversible ledgers—physics and biology: the speed of light and the span of life. If it does not represent these fundamental scarcities of human life, our economics will diverge from reality and betray us.

...

Muddling much of economics is a mirage of money itself as power, as if the supply of money itself can impel economic activity. Monetarism (control of money), Keynesianism (control of spending), and Mercantilism (control of trade) all foster the illusion that government power can drive economic growth and wealth creation.

What government can do (and does do) under this illusion is redistribute wealth, usually to the already rich and other politically favored inside players. Government can properly create the conditions under which knowledge—yielded by millions of falsifiable experiments in entrepreneurship—is created. But the lessons too many people learned under Communism still comprise the central economic lesson: power cannot order wealth—new knowledge—into being.

...

In the name of managing money, the Fed is trying to manipulate investors’ time—their sense of present and future valuations. But time is not truly manipulable. It is an irreversible force impinging on every financial decision we make. The Fed policy merely confuses both savers and investors and contracts the horizons of investment, which in some influential trading strategies have shrunk to milliseconds.

Charles Hugh-Smith writes:

In a highly leveraged financial system such as ours, when the phantom collateral vanishes, so does the illusion of solvency. Losses are forced down somebody’s throat—either the lender or the owner, or both.

When that happens, the ability of lenders and speculators to leverage debt on collateral is impaired: once the phantom collateral vanishes, there’s no foundation to support additional debt and leverage.

And once the ability to pile on more debt and leverage goes away, the entire debt-dependent financial system does what this building in China did: collapse.

The only way to sort the wheat (real collateral based on enterprise value) from the chaff (phantom collateral created by central banks’ speculative bubbles) is for a crash to force price discovery and the cramdown of losses.


Mark Steyn ridicules the secular materialist solution to terrorism:

To Marie Harf and her colleagues in the Administration, he's obviously a victim of economic deprivation whose urge to blow up America would be mitigated by a decent economic-stimulus package. In fact, the poverty is all on our side: a poverty of imagination, the inability of Marie Harf and others to understand that not everyone thinks like you do. And until we respect our enemy sufficiently to stop assuming he’s just Marie Harf with a beard and a scimitar, we will keep losing.

Richard Kelsey gets real on immigration at CNS News:

Open borders advocates, big business types, and political demagogues of all stripes have rallied around the false flag of comprehensive immigration reform. The phrase itself is political speak for lax enforcement and amnesty. The entirety of the immigration debate has been solely to focus on how many people who have come here illegally get to stay, and under what conditions. It’s a farce. Americans are not even talking about what matters in immigration policy. The central premise of a national immigration policy must be that immigration policy first and primarily serve Americans, not immigrants. Recent events serve as a stark reminder that real comprehensive immigration reform is not just about letting illegal immigrants stay; it is about choosing who gets to come here legally. Our broken immigration system is not broken just because of illegal immigration; it is broken with respect to our legal immigration practices.

Wanting to come to America is not a valid immigration criterion. Needing a better life for yourself and your family, likewise, is not a sole determinative immigration criterion for U.S. citizenship. An intelligent immigration policy looks to invite the best candidates to apply for citizenship, and applies a harsh, thoughtful, unapologetic screening process to ensure that those who do come will ultimately enrich American life and add to the fabric of our success. America is too great and too important to have an open admissions policy.

In recent days, some have suggested that our immigration policy block prospective immigrants from Muslim countries. That’s a pretty radical idea by any measure, but particularly radical in a country that prides itself on amorphous concepts such as diversity and tolerance. The notion that we could or would “discriminate” against a particular religion offends our American sensibilities. Indeed, the word “discriminate” has become so hyperbolic that it can’t be used in its traditional sense, as its sole meaning to many connotes illegal, repulsive conduct. It no longer means merely to separate based on selectivity. As once used, it might be said that Jackie Onasis Kennedy had discriminating taste in fashion. When it comes to immigration policy, we too must be discriminating.

Some say our immigration policy should be nondiscriminatory. What they mean is blind to outcomes.


Dr. Helen thinks things that might pull her away from libertarianism:

I wonder what freedom means to a younger generation. Is legalized pot and gay marriage freedom? (Since when is state-sanctioned marriage freedom?) Many Millennials seem to think so. Have they been so indoctrinated that as long as they perceive that freedom is a bong hit away, they will be a docile easily manipulated group? I sometimes think so.

“Family equality” is a thing. Christopher White writes in Public Discourse:

Hours after the Obergefell decision was handed down, University of California Irvine law professor Douglas NeJaime took to the pages of the Los Angeles Times to lament that “marriage equality doesn’t immediately or necessarily erase cultural and legal attachments to biological, dual-gender parenting.” In other words, those of us concerned about assisted reproductive technologies and their very real harms to both women and children need to simply rid ourselves of such quaint “attachments.” As skeptics in Ireland feared and the naïve in the United States are now realizing, “marriage equality” inevitably leads to the push for “family equality”—almost always by artifice.

NeJaime goes on:

even though marriage equality doesn’t immediately erase all attachments related to biological, dual-gender child rearing, it points us in the right direction ... the majority [of the Supreme Court] affirmed a model of parenthood based on chosen, functional bonds rather than biology alone.

In other words, the movement for “family equality” will forever diminish the significance of our biological ties. The state must now act in a way that both accepts and promotes a non-biological vision of parenthood and family. Thus, the market for eggs, sperm, and wombs must be expanded.

Many states will soon be under pressure to follow the example of California and Maryland, where the state legislatures have passed laws that would that mandate insurers provide “infertility” treatments to same-sex couples. In 2013, when California enacted its legislation, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano boasted: “Reproductive medicine is for everybody’s benefit. To restrict fertility coverage solely to heterosexual married couples violates California’s non-discrimination laws. I wrote this bill to correct that.” In a recent article in JAMA Internal Medicine, Brown University physician Eli Y. Adashi praised the Maryland bill and encouraged other states enact similar legislation. According to Adashi, “Building a family is a universal human principle shared by single individuals and unmarried opposite-sex couples, as well as gay and lesbian couples.”

Infertility coverage for couples who are inherently infertile! It’s necessary to ensure those whose essential natural limitations that the created order is prejudiced against have a fair shot of accessorizing their life with a child. Of course the created order is wrong, and the zeitgeist is right. You can’t make this up. The technization of life continues apace.

Polygamy is coming.

“If there is no magic power in opposite sexes when it comes to marriage, is there any magic power in the number two?” –William Baude, New York Times

You cannot argue with that logic. Seriously. If the premise is given, the logic is sound.


We’ve reached perversion’s nexus. The awful Nondiscrimination Ordinance goes national. Chris Geidner reports at Buzzfeed:

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that existing civil rights law bars sexual orientation-based employment discrimination—a groundbreaking decision to advance legal protections for gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers.

“[A]llegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation necessarily state a claim of discrimination on the basis of sex,” the commission concluded in a decision dated July 15.

The independent commission addressed the question of whether the ban on sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars anti-LGB discrimination in a complaint brought by a Florida-based air traffic control specialist against Transportation Sec. Anthony Foxx.

The ruling—approved by a 3-2 vote of the five-person commission—applies to federal employees’ claims directly, but it also applies to the entire EEOC, which includes its offices across the nation that take and investigate claims of discrimination in private employment.

For the nth time, sexuality is a changing, behavioral characteristic. Man is not a beast incapable of subduing his natural appetite. In fact he can and he should, for he is better for it. That he can’t is the lie of this age. Man will become like a beast if the ethos that demands he comport his will to truth and goodness is removed.

Andrew T. Walker writes in Public Discourse:

The color of a person’s skin has no relation to his or her moral action, while sexual orientation and gender identity do. Unlike race, sexual orientation and gender identity are known through conduct, which can and should be ethically evaluated.

The discussion ends there. I’ll let C. S. Lewis wrap it up:

Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.

Rehabilitation is impossible if you preclude the truth that convicts sinners and heals them. World Net Daily reports:

The policy states that DJJ staff, volunteers and others “shall not imply or tell LGBTQI juveniles that they are abnormal, deviant, sinful or that they can or should change their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Kristor at the Orthosphere writes about gnostic despair:

For the atheist gnostic, there is no safe harbor anywhere in life. Yet we are so made as to want purity and righteousness, and to feel their lack as a painful defect of existence. We cannot rest until we reach a place worthy of rest. But in a wholly bad or meaningless universe, there can be no such place.

This is why the Overton Window must always move. It cannot ever rest.

So gnosticism tends to nihilism, and to despair, and to hatred. (Emphasis added)

God has pre-packaged the answer to the “painful defect of existence”: Jesus, love, giving.


My most popular blog post to date is about Tobias Buckell’s affront to science fiction, Arctic Rising. In it, “global warming” has reduced the Arctic ice cap to a small icicle upon which people live in microstates that can explosively detach and float away. But the thickness of Arctic sea ice, no more than a few meters, can’t support heavy structures, even if the ice wasn’t melting.

So not only is global warming a manipulated-data-dependent myth, not only is Arctic sea ice doing well, but Buckell’s absurd plot rests on a third fallacy: the ability of ice to support hundreds of tons of infrastructure. His future isn’t speculative, it’s impossible.

By the way, the only reason that post was popular is because Buckell linked to it. If I had my druthers, I would wish greater popularity on my more creative stuff, like my poem “Truest self” and the hoax article about Atticus Finch. I had fun writing those.


Pat Buchanan sees a fundamental shift in the way America engages the Middle East:

Syria is probably where the next collision is going to come between the United States and its old allies.

For Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel all want the Assad regime brought down to break up Iran’s Shiite Crescent and inflict a strategic defeat on Tehran. But the United States believes the fall of Assad means the rise of ISIS and al-Qaida, a massacre of Christians, and the coming to power of a Sunni terrorist state implacably hostile to us.

Will Iran play nice with the Saudis? Will they continue to outfit terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah? Will they bolster Iraq and Syria against ISIS? Will the mullahs be complacent after this taste of power?

These questions aren’t rhetorical. Their answers are very much in the air. I’ve heard of potential Saudi aggression in reaction to the Iran deal. But I haven’t heard anyone consider yet the possibility of the mullahs or the Iranian hardliners reacting to the deal in a way that undermines or hijacks our sudden stake in Iran’s regional hegemony.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

History robbers

This is sad and disturbing, but predictable if you understand the racial Left.

A group of anti-Confederate protesters aren’t happy enough with the declaration by the city of Memphis that it wants to dig up and move the remains of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest.

They want it done now.

A group surrounded a shovel Wednesday and ceremoniously removed a chunk of grass and soil.

“We are going to bring the back hoe, the tractors and the men with the equipment to raise Bedford Forrest from the soil of Memphis,” Isaac Richmond with the “Commission on Religion and Racism” declared to awaiting TV cameras, CBS 3 reported.

Richmond ran unsuccessfully for Congress last year.

He believes if the general who died 137 years ago can just be eliminated, that will really help things.

“If he’s gone, some of this racism and race-hate might be gone,” he said, shovel in hand. “We got a fresh shovel full, and we hope that everybody else will follow suit and dig him up.”

The grave desecrator is not doing anything that the city of Memphis would have done in due time. They want to erase the iconography of the past, to impose their bitter, envious, reality-challenged interpretation as the only applicable interpretation when thinking of things past (and, by extension, things present). This has been the reason for relativism all along: Things have no meaning in themselves that the Left does not assign and then approve or disapprove. In this case, Nathan Bedford Forrest is a racist because he fought for the Confederacy. Racism is his sole, irredeemable legacy. There’s no other way of thinking about him that justifies his memory.

Stipulating his crimes and inhumane acts, does he not deserve peace in death? Does his gravesite open a gate to the past through which slavery and Jim Crow enter to destroy racial progress, such as it is in 2015? The idea is ridiculous. Nevertheless, that’s their rationalization for the recent spate of iconoclasm.

It doesn’t have to be coherent to have force, it just has to have muscle behind it. This is the will to power on a collective scale, a nihilist takeover of what America was and is.

Refreshing: “Man drives across state to fix grass next to Nathan Bedford Forrest’s statue and grave.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Jill Filipovic’s steady boil

Here’s a bit of frothing nonsense from Cosmopolitan former “senior political writer,” Jill Filipovic. See if you can spot the lifestyle insecurity as she tries really hard to convince you how terrible it is to be a Bible thumper, to know God’s grace is infinitely greater than what the flesh yearns for (James 4:5-6).

With sound and fury, Filipovic unloads everything she’s got against the conservative Christian sexual ethos, a smorgasbord of ignorance, simplifications, and hearsay that obfuscates the reality that the restrained life is pretty good, because it harmonizes with how God made man. What she doesn’t get is the less you make your life about you, the better off you are.

I’ll comment in brackets so as not to interrupt Filipovic’s free-styling hysterics:

Duggar family values are as follows: While they don’t necessarily use the term themselves, they are loosely part of the Quiverfull and Christian patriarchy movements, where the man is the head of the household and has ultimate authority over his wife and children. Women are helpmeets, finding their ultimate calling in submitting to their husbands [see Ephesians 5:22] as wives and mothers. Girls are treated differently than boys [that’s bad because they’re the same?]. Women’s bodies don’t belong to them [see 1 Corinthians 7:4], and are also inherently sinful and tempting and must be covered up lest they cause an otherwise good man to slip up. Women shouldn’t ever say no to sex with their husbands. Birth control is tantamount to abortion and is a sin against God. Women should not work outside the home or get much in the way of higher education. Because a woman’s fundamental purpose is not to live her own life but to have children, she should have as many children as God gives, even if it means she dies in the process.

“There’s an emphasis on sex as a woman’s obligation to her husband and also to God,” Kathryn Joyce, author of Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement told Cosmopolitan.com. “Any sort of previous experience or even fantasizing or masturbation is infidelity [see Matthew 5:28] against either your current husband or your future husband. Anything that would make a woman feel more independent in that realm and would separate sexuality from her marriage, even in ways that a lot of people would consider very healthy and very normal, are seen as things that would make her too independent, and that wouldn’t be good.” [despite declining marriage rates and rising out-of-wedlock birth rates, the opposite of healthy and normal]

In other words, they’re extreme misogynists. But treating women like second-class citizens and breeding machines [she’s masking a lot of pain, I think] wasn’t just A-OK for TLC and just about every Republican presidential contender, but part and parcel to the family’s “morality.” In a civilized society where women are considered equal players, families like the Duggars would be marginalized. In our actual society, the Duggers were applauded, invited to political events, handed checks to star in a reality television show, and covered extensively and often glowingly by celebrity media. What is wrong with us? [we’re uncivilized, get it?]

“Extreme misogynists”? “Second-class citizens”? “Breeding machines”? Are these serious feminist ideas or stealth anti-feminist straw men? The former, unfortunately. This prejudice is mainstream. Filipovic takes it to the next level because she has to to maintain the illusion of righteousness. Her god has failed, but, unlike Arthur Koestler, she hasn’t faced the consequences yet. The calumnies keep the rage at a steady boil, lest soothing truth calm the waters. Soothing truth, such as that written by Solomon:

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” (Proverbs 31:25-29)

It’s not all roses all the time, of course. But compare it to what Filipovic is selling: a freedom limited to oneself, the myth of fulfillment in utilitarian satisfaction.

She’s not done. The contradictions start to pile on:

We are a society so schizophrenic about sex that we use images of half-naked girls barely out of their teens to sell everything from Internet service to hamburgers [prudes are not to blame for this] while we also spend millions on abstinence-only sex education. We have one of the highest unintended pregnancy rates in the developed world [sex has consequences] but fight legal battles over whether bosses should be able to decide what forms of birth control their employees can access. We live in a country where 1 in 5 women will be raped [debunked] and where we also have politicians who see fit to publicly philosophize over what makes a rape “legitimate.” [i.e., it’s not rape unless she says it is]

The Duggars, who are simultaneously obsessed with sex [who’s obsessed?] and also trying to spread a message of shame around female sexuality in particular, are a reality TV family perfectly befitting us. The outcome of their worldview — the sexual trauma, the humiliation, the misogyny [trauma comes from experience, not chastity] — we knew it was all part of the equation. We tuned in anyway. We bought the magazines with them on the cover. We allowed them platforms as spokespeople for morality and family values. We knew about their deep, entrenched misogyny, and we rewarded it.

For someone who celebrates the benefits of free and open sexuality, she’s oddly opposed to its commoditization. You can’t have it both ways. Either sex is reserved for marriage, or it’s exchanged on the open market, whether people’s ends be pleasure, profit, or empowerment. The Carl’s Jr. girls, for example, aren’t victims of exploitation, they’re consenting partners. They lend Carl’s Jr. their images, and Carl’s Jr. compensates them. If that’s not consent, then I don’t what is. If Filipovic condemns it, she should be consistent and condemn consent as the center of sexual morality, and honestly consider alternatives.

It’s people like the Duggars who have the answer to a society that is “schizophrenic about sex.” The Duggars recognize sex’s power and nip it in the bud. They know more often sex masters people than people master it. This is hardly backwards thinking. Our mastery of nature does not directly correlate with our mastery of human nature, although pride and hubris delude us into thinking so. Edward R. Dougherty writes at Public Discourse:

With a never-ending expansion of technology seemingly lying before him, it is not surprising that a person can envision changing both his environment and himself to suit his every whim and find any limitation to be an unjust constraint of his freedom.

No matter how technologically advanced we are, we are not above sin. Only God is above sin, and in Him we trust. The Duggars are the least “obsessed with sex” as possible, far less obsessed than Filipovic.

Related: “Here’s What ‘Submissive Wives’ Gets Right.” And more on Filipovic here, here, here, and here.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Dictatorship of relativism

“Only the disciplined mind can see reality, Winston. You believe that reality is something objective, external, existing in its own right. You also believe that the nature of reality is self-evident. When you delude yourself into thinking that you see something, you assume that everyone else sees the same thing as you. But I tell you, Winston, that reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes: only in the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds to be the truth, is truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the Party.” –O’Brien, 1984

That objects have no inherent value, only subjective ones that people assign them, is a modern idea C. S. Lewis rigorously refutes in The Abolition of Man. If the truth stands like a hill above the plain of falsehood, then you have to flatten the hill to give falsehood, any falsehood, a chance at supremacy. When that’s done, you can start building up the lie. And it’s an open competition. Whoever is the most ruthless building up his lie wins. It’s the dictatorship of relativism Pope Benedict warned about.

For example, when does life begin? David Cole writes at Taki’s:

One of the most blatant legal fictions in the U.S. today is that life begins when a woman says it does. In most states, a woman can be on her way to an abortion clinic to get her “tumor” legally sucked out, but if she stops at a mini-mart to buy some smokes and rethinks her decision, and if she gets caught in the middle of a robbery and takes a bullet to the gut and loses the baby, the robber can be charged with murder for doing exactly what the abortionist was about to do legally. If a woman wants to get an abortion, the baby is a tumor and the act is legal. If a woman wants to keep the baby, it’s a baby and anyone else can be prosecuted for harming it. To deal with the obvious contradiction between prosecuting people who destroy fetuses in some situations and protecting those who do it in others, a legal fiction was created, namely that life begins when it’s wanted. A wanted fetus is a life. An unwanted fetus is a tumor.

In other words, there’s no inherent value of the womb-dwelling baby that necessitates special care or even consideration. What value it has is imparted by the mother—or creator, I should say. “Mother” implies carrying the baby to term, a risky assumption of pregnant women in the age of autonomy. The more apt “creator” title implies the divine aspect as well as the power to destroy.

If everything is meaningless, the only meaning is subjective. And the only subjective meaning that holds sway, if we are to avoid total anarchy, is that meaning which those with indiscriminate power inflict by sheer will (i.e., womb bearers against their children/clump of cells).

You see this leveling in art, too. How could Life magazine insinuate Jackson Pollock was the greatest living American painter in 1949? Did the war kill off every talented artist in America? Contrast Pollock’s sloppy “expressionist” drip paintings with a Monet or a Rembrandt. One is the work of inspiration, talent, and industry. The other you can’t discern from garbage.

Even mediocre art is preferable to Pollock’s “best.” The key difference is in the attempt at content. Pollock gave his paintings nondescript names, like “No. 5,” because names with words, which have objective meaning, might prejudice the viewer against what the viewer wants to see. Pollock painted nothing so people could see whatever they want. They are contentless. Oh, you see a tree orchard? I see old men playing chess. Timmy sees a shipwreck.

Steve Turley writes:

As the twentieth-century Christian scholar Hans Rookmaaker recognized, modern art comes from the loss of our sense of a created order. The world prior to the modern age was filled with divine meaning and purpose. And the mission of the artist was to serve humanity by awakening us to that divine meaning and purpose by representing such in new and beautiful complexions.

But the rise of modern science in effect de-sanctified the world by supposedly exposing all cultural meaning systems as fabrications. The world is not governed by the gods or divine meaning or purpose, but rather by physical, chemical, and biological causal laws. The mission of the artist is now redefined; the modern secular artist all too often seeks to celebrate the new, the hip, by tearing down cultural fences and mores and exposing them as artificial constructions. Art increasingly exists to shock, to turn our heads and grab our attentions with blasphemous and pornographic content.

So much of modern secular art is a window into a world devoid of any objective meaning, any sense of care and purpose. It is no wonder that our books and movies are infatuated with dystopias and Armageddon scenarios. (Emphasis added)

Since modern art is insignificant as far as values are concerns, we’re not at each other’s throats over its meaning. Not so when the way of governing ourselves in accord with truth is at stake. Then we get passionate and violent, as we should in defending truth from lies.

Related: “The whole lie and nothing but the lie.”

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Je ne suis pas Charlie

Mark Steyn’s reflections on Charlie Hebdo’s defeat are apt:

The slippery, weaselly nature of the post-bloodbath support told Charlie Hebdo it was only going to get lonelier. It’s hard standing on your feet when everyone else with the #JeSuisCharlie buttons is on their knees, bottoms in the air, prostrate before the fanatics. And so Charb’s successor has opted to live on his knees.

#JeSuisCharlie? Even Charlie isn’t Charlie now.

I have no particular urge to die standing, but I really don't want to live in the world this malign alliance of Islamic imperialists and hollow western appeasers is building for us. So we must resist it on all fronts.

I would add this: In the end, what Charlie Hebdo was standing up for, free speech, is a means to an end. It’s value comes from what you do with it. Charlie Hebdo used speech to lambast things that are worth defending. So when the time comes to defend their right to ridicule things that are worth defending, what then?

Secularist Europe exemplifies the modern contradiction. The momentum of the past dissipated long ago. Nothing sustains it now. They are culturally rudderless, neutered, “men without chests” as C. S. Lewis put it. Many people locked arms and Twitter accounts and “stood with Charlie.” But why did they stand with Charlie? It surely was not out of some bold, fiery allegiance to truth or to the one true God. It was to free speech itself, which is worth dying for because... uh... I’ll get back to you when I figure it out.

Islam is based on no less of a contradiction, but it has the advantage of vigor. They think they have a divine imprimatur. In a duel against an unmotivated opponent, you should favor Islam.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Atticus Finch monument under fire

Monroeville, AL – A group of protestors carrying signs and crosses is demanding the removal of a monument to Atticus Finch in this sleepy, southern Alabama town.

Chanting, praying, and handing leaflets to pedestrians and motorists, the protestors descended on the Monroeville town square at dawn Thursday. Numbering roughly 50 to 100, they occupied the space around the monument all day.

“Atticus Finch was a racist segregationist, and we believe people like that should not be honored in public space,” said Byzantium Moore, the group’s ostensible leader.

The epigraph on the monument reads “Atticus Finch: Lawyer - Hero.” The monument was placed in the Monroeville town square by the Alabama State Bar Association in 2010.

Atticus Finch is the beloved character from Harper Lee’s classic 1960 novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. In the book he unsuccessfully defends a black man from false accusations of rape.

Concerns have arisen recently about Atticus Finch’s racial magnanimity, however. In Lee’s controversial sequel, Go Set a Watchman, published this month, Finch attends citizens’ councils, widely held to be synonymous with the Ku Klux Klan. He also espouses segregationist views to his grown-up daughter, Scout.

Still, the Finch monument has its defenders. Winston Trudell, a white retired judge and professor at Auburn University, said the racist Finch character inspired him as a teenager.

“He’s the reason I went into law in the first place,” Trudell said. “Every lawyer and judge in Alabama read that book when they were kids. He’s an American hero, in my opinion.”

When asked whether he was open to changing his mind in light of revelations about Finch’s racist views, Trudell said no. “That’s not the real Atticus,” he said emphatically.

That position will become hard to defend as more people read Go Set a Watchman and discover the inconvenient truth about Atticus Finch. Meanwhile, the protestors vow they will not rest until the monument is removed. They were back at the town square in greater numbers Friday morning.

“This is like the Confederate symbols all across the South,” Moore said yesterday. “People say, ‘Look past the war, past secession, past slavery, and you see there was good in people.’ I say, ‘Excuse me? How can a racist be a good person in any way, shape or form?’ And what does it say about us that we honor these folk?”

Monroeville’s city manager, Rosco Ward, issued a press release stating the city was “looking into the allegations of racism and potential next steps should they prove valid.” The Alabama State Bar Association was unavailable for comment.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Truest self

A self-making man I long to be
Who I am, short of what I want
I chase after an image of me
Of my truest self I’m in the hunt

So much to earn, to take from the world
This or that, depends on when you ask
My life around my heart’s desires curled
Spending present and future on the task

Falling down again and again
Sends me back to where I started
A shell of ambition
Sinking feeling, dismal failure
Am I not good enough?

“Opiates, please,” and I give in
Fine for a minute, but a dull ache
Unfree, I freely choose my sin
Habits, they have me, I cannot shake

Vile surrogates’ phony embrace
Sorrow in my shortfall sedated
The ghost in the glass I loathe to face
Clothed in filth but with pain abated

Betraying myself again and again
Chains me up to where I started
Failed and flawed volition
Tired of this trial and error
I am not good enough!

Power beyond, above me I seek
To me, blind judge of my footsteps, kill
For I alone am much too weak
Elusive, the key to errant will

Who—what am I besides my own
A maker’s made one in the inmost crease
God the maker, in whom truth is shown
Glorious maker, in whom I find peace

The key’s without, not within
Frees me from where I started
To my sire, submission
By two faiths I’m measured
In Christ I am enough!

A new vision for a new life
Untangled from my heart’s desires
Against creation, no more strife
The righteous in God’s armor Christ attires

Blessed by Him, giving is reflex
The communion path my feet trod
Love, through the Holy Spirit, connects
I’ve found my truest self, thank God

Monday, July 20, 2015

Aborting the circle of life

Urban Dictionary has a good, but flawed, definition of the Junior Anti-Sex League:

In George Orwell’s novel 1984, an organization for young people that advocated complete celibacy for both sexes. The Party intends to abolish the institution of the family, so all children will be the products of artificial insemination and grow up in public institutions. Members wear red sashes around their waists. Julia, Winston Smith’s lover, is a member of the Junior Anti-Sex League, though she does not share their ideals.

By extension, the conservative & repressive forces in society that support ideals of celibacy, virginity, purity, etc.

This definition is confused. Conservatives don’t want to abolish the family. That describes progressives with their fetish for abortion, contraception, divorce, asexual reproduction, and child commoditization. In a procreative context, chastity ensures children issued from sexual congress of man and woman are raised in marriage by a mother and father committed to each other, not outside marriage where they are vulnerable.

Orwell had his anti-creative, totalitarian society appropriate chastity for two practical reasons:

  1. To prevent conjugal love coming between state and subject
  2. To prevent marriage and family formation, giving the state justification to breed the next generation, to assume paternity, and to indoctrinate them

Chastity takes discipline. In 1984 it’s tied up in fanatical devotion to the state. Now, recreational sex is tied up in fanatical devotion of personal autonomy. Liberal society appropriates sexual liberation to bewilder the people with licentiousness, prevent marriage and family formation, and indoctrinate the next generation; to create such marital chaos that the people will beg for the nanny state to unburden them of these damn kids.

Orwell’s dystopia was technologically backward. Oceania hadn’t figured out how to disassemble man and separate sex from procreation, so they enforced chastity as part of the civic doctrine. Today’s progressives have the benefit of technology to reorder biological nature (or so they pride themselves). LifeNews.com reports:

Earlier this month, LifeNews.com reported on a high school in Seattle, Washington that is now implanting intrauterine devices (IUD), as well as other forms of birth control and doing so without parental knowledge or permission.

The IUD is known as a long acting reversible contraception, and may even act as an abortifacient. So, a young teen in Seattle can’t get a coke at her high school, but she can have a device implanted into her uterus, which can unknowingly kill her unborn child immediately after conception.

All the better to acclimatize girls to the dream of sex without children.

A society of girls who are uninterested, nay, incapable of having children—and incapable of taking care of them if they accidentally do have children—presents a humanitarian and demographic challenge that the totalitarian state eagerly positions itself to solve. If orchestrating the breakdown of the family and transferring children’s dependence from their parents to the state had been liberals’ stated goal from the beginning, how would they have gone about it differently?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Odds and ends 7/19/2015

One Cosmos makes a wonderful observation that I think illuminates the difference between righteousness from Jesus and righteousness of works:

I marvel at what a good person my son is. What I mean is, I see evidence of his spontaneous goodness all the time. He is a much better person than I was at 10. I was by no means a bad person, but if I'm really honest, part of this was because I was simply afraid to be bad. That’s what I mean about temptation. I might have been worse if I weren’t such a coward.

Part of me admired the naughty boys, but my son isn't like that at all. Rather, he strikes me as “courageously good.” He would be willing to be mocked for his goodness, whereas I would have been much more likely to cave under peer pressure. In contrast, he is irked and repelled by jerks and pseudo-rebels. There’s no attraction at all.

So far, anyway. For two years running he’s won the “people of faith” award—whatever that is—in his school by simply doing what comes spontaneously. He is not remotely repressed. To the contrary, full of life.

It very much reminds me of something Harvey Mansfield said in his Manliness: that in order to be a gentleman, one must first be a man. Otherwise you’re just a gentlewimp. And the gentlewimp is often just a mask of the barbarian, as in Obama and his ilk. Poke the wimp, and out comes the cloven hoof, as when that reporter spoiled the party by pointing out that Iran is still holding kidnapped Americans.

If I think I must avoid sin to be good enough for God to approve of me, I will be frightened and agonized my whole life. If I think God loves me and forgives me so that I may serve him with all my mind, body, and spirit, I will be free and joyous and unrestrained in my service.


Steve Turley analyzes C. S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man:

Lewis sees the modern age, in many respects, as wholly unprecedented. The world before the modern age affirmed Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, what Lewis called The Tao, as objective values embedded in a divinely arranged cosmic order. The modern age, however, views the universe as impersonal nature and thus locates all conceptions of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty to culturally conditioned personal preferences. In the pre-modern world, Truth, Goodness, and Beauty were objective to the knower; in the modern age, they are constructed by the knower and superimposed on an impersonal world.

For Lewis, these two worlds are governed by radically different civilizational orientations. For pre-modern man, the fundamental question was how to conform the soul to the objective world and thus be drawn up into divine life, and the answer involved prayer, virtue, and knowledge. However, for modern man, the question is inverted: modern man is not interested in how to conform the soul to reality; rather modern man seeks to conform the world to his own desires and ambitions, and the means involves tapping into those institutions that operate by the mechanisms of power and manipulation, namely, science, technology, and the state.

But this modern project comes at a terrible cost. Lewis recognized that if all conceptions of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty are reduced to mere personal preferences, then the only way there can be a moral consensus in society is through some kind of manipulation. If a sense of divine obligation and hence a collective self-government has been erased, then only coercion, compulsion, and extortion can provide a motivation for ethical conformity.

Thus, Lewis sees manipulation as the heart of this brave new world to which we are embarking. And if manipulation is an intrinsic characteristic of modern life, then there must surface by definition two classes of people: manipulators and manipulatees, or, in Lewis’ terms, the ‘conditioners’ and the ‘conditioned.’ The need for coercion and manipulation thus gives rise to the formation of a social elite, a secular aristocracy, with the vast majority of the human population repositioned as objects of manipulation.


Erick Erickson asks what happened to presidential candidate Rand Paul:

Here is the guy who should be doing some cross-party fusion. He rallied a lot of Americans in bipartisan fashion on national security. He seemed to be playing his cards right. And... ? Bernie Sanders is kicking his butt in campaign fundraising. In fact, I dare say Sanders froze Paul's chance at fusion. All the little rich libertine millennials that Paul was counting on, instead got excited for Sanders.

That’s the problem with libertarians. Their individualist creed appeals to base liberal instincts, which dependably regress to the false ideal of autonomy. Freedom from work, freedom from religion, freedom from having children, freedom from responsibility, do you sense a theme here?


Alan Dershowitz analyzes the Iran deal in the Boston Globe:

How did we get ourselves into the situation where there are no good options?

We did so by beginning the negotiations with three important concessions. First, we took the military option off the table by publicly declaring that we were not militarily capable of permanently ending Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Second, we took the current tough sanction regimen off the table by acknowledging that if we did not accept a deal, many of our most important partners would begin to reduce or even eliminate sanctions. Third, and most important, we took off the table the option of rejecting the deal by publicly acknowledging that if we do so, we will be worse off than if we accept even a questionable deal. Yes, the president said he would not accept a “bad” deal, but by repeatedly watering down the definition of a bad deal, and by repeatedly stating that the alternative to a deal would be disastrous, he led the Iranians to conclude we needed the deal more than they did.

These three concessions left our negotiators with little leverage and provided their Iranian counterparts with every incentive to demand more compromises from us. The result is that we pinned ourselves into a corner. As Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute put it: “The deal itself became more important than what was in it.” President Obama seems to have confirmed that assessment when he said: “Put simply, no deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East.”

Only time will tell whether this deal decreases or increases the likelihood of more war. But one thing is clear: By conveying those stark alternatives to Iranian negotiators, we weakened our bargaining position.


Kim Holmes writes at the Daily Signal about the putrid King v. Burwell decision:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s lament last week that “words no longer have meaning” got me to thinking. I don’t claim to know Chief Justice John Roberts’ motivations in deciding in favor of Obamacare, but I do know that his deconstruction of the meaning of language is increasingly commonplace in our culture. Could his willingness to bend the meaning of the word “states” indicate something larger than what’s happening to the law? Could it actually be a sign of a major cultural shift in the country?

Welcome to postmodern America. For decades now, we have been living in a culture where the meaning of words is stretched almost beyond recognition. “Metanarratives” ring truer than actual facts. Self-prescribed identities trump everything, including nature. A white woman can blithely claim she is black, but when challenged, the only thing she can muster in her defense is irritable confusion and a declaration of how she “identifies.” A man announces he’s a woman and is celebrated as a hero.

Sounds about right. I took a critical theory class to complete my English degree that was the worst class in the world. Basically the point of critical theory is to undermine the plain, direct meaning of a text.

For example, take the phrase “We hold these truths to be self-evident” from the Declaration of Independence. If “these truths” were self-evident, why is it necessary to say so? A self-evident truth needs no announcement, does it not? It can be observed by anyone who looks into it.

If something were not self-evident, and I wanted you to believe me, I would say just what Jefferson wrote. Because what I am claiming are self-evident truths aren’t self-evident or true at all. I claim they’re self-evident because the actual evidence points to the contrary. Jefferson intends us to not verify the evidence supporting these so-called “truths.” The Declaration is actually lies masquerading as truth as those men “held” at that time.

Whee!

Meanwhile, Obamacare continues to rape people’s healthcare. The Daily Signal reports:

Only 18 percent of enrollees subject to the Affordable Care Act’s cost-increasing insurance requirements received subsidies last year to offset those higher premiums. Put another way, for each person who got a subsidy last year, there were four more individuals whose coverage was also subjected to the Affordable Care Act’s costly new insurance requirements, but who received no offsetting subsidy.

David Azerrad has an article up at Public Discourse on Anthony Kennedy’s Obergefell ruling that I want to quote nearly in full:

Woven throughout his musings on the dynamic synergies between the various clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment is the central premise of modern liberalism: individual autonomy. It is the very first argument that the Court offers on behalf of the newfound constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

Indeed, in the opening sentence of the decision, Kennedy proclaims all individuals free “to define and express their identity,” thereby echoing his even more grandiloquent pronouncement in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that 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.”

On this foundation, the edifice of modern liberalism is built. We are all sovereign individuals, radically free to fashion and refashion ourselves into anything we so please at any point in our lives. Man is the undefined animal. He is auto nomos—self-legislating. Neither God, nor nature, nor tradition, nor the obligations he previously contracted may hem him in. Bruce Jenner may become Caitlyn whenever she so pleases—and then become Bruce again if he wants.

Beyond the rudimentary demands of refraining from harming others, nothing may constrain the choices we make in defining and redefining our identity. This is democratized, domesticated Nietzscheanism. Prometheus not fully unbound—just mindful of the rights of others. This, it should be pointed out, is also the starting-point of libertarianism—but also its end point. Not so for liberalism.

Liberalism’s exalted view of man’s limitless possibilities, paradoxically enough, is not accompanied by an equally exalted view of his inner strength and resolve. One might think that liberalism would encourage individuals to trust in themselves and to be scornful of society’s staid bourgeois conventions in defining and expressing their identity.

It doesn’t. For all his purported god-like powers of self-creation, liberal promethean man is actually a weak, insecure, and isolated individual. It is not enough that he define and express his identity. He needs others to recognize it, embrace it, and celebrate it. He needs the state to confer dignity upon it.

Otherwise, he may find himself marginalized by his peers, crippled by their disapproving looks, and insecure in his choice of an identity. After all, a particular lifestyle or living arrangement may not be illegal, but it can still be viewed as dishonorable by some. Even before the Court’s ruling, gay couples could marry in a house of worship or banquet hall in any of the states that still defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. But they carried the lack of state recognition for their marriages like the mark of Cain.

“Outlaw to outcast may be a step forward, but it does not achieve the full promise of liberty, ” explains Kennedy. The Court’s opinion is replete with references to stigma, hurt, and humiliation. “It demeans gays and lesbians for the State to lock them out of a central institution of the Nation’s society.” It is therefore incumbent upon the state to dignify them. As Matthew Franck wrote in Public Discourse last week: “In Kennedy’s mind, the Constitution has been converted into a great Dignity Document.”

An earlier generation of liberals would have told the man to go to hell with his marriage certificate. “We don't need no thought control,” they would have yelled. “All in all you're just another brick in the wall!” To have the suits recognize your alternative lifestyle would have defeated the whole purpose of embracing it in the first place.

Contemporary liberalism, by contrast, views man as a weak and fragile creature. Adversity doesn’t forge character. It stigmatizes and demeans. Unless others affirm our choices, they are worthless. We have no unshakable inner convictions or faith. We are all insecure.

Promethean man, it turns out, is a pathetic creature. He thinks himself the measure of all things, but must in fact have his solipsistic existence be publicly affirmed and dignified by the state. He is simultaneously everything and nothing.

Liberalism’s celebration of human autonomy is obviously incompatible with any conception of an unchosen nature that restricts our scope of action. Nevertheless, Kennedy twice appeals to the idea of a permanent nature in the decision. Homosexuals have an “immutable nature,” he asserts. They are born gay and cannot change. So are heterosexuals, bisexuals, and all other flavor-du-jour-sexuals for that matter: “sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable.”

The essence of liberty is the freedom to define and express one’s identity, just not when it comes to sexual orientation, which is innate and immutable. We can choose our gender—that is not fixed at birth—but our sexual orientation is handed down to us by the gods and must be accepted with passive resignation (for a contrasting view, see this Public Discourse essay by Paul McHugh and Gerard Bradley).

Turning to marriage, Kennedy implicitly carves out another exception to the realm of autonomy. Marriage, though clearly not possessing a permanent nature, is nevertheless “essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations.” This implies that happiness outside of marriage is not possible. No one will be forced to get married—but all who aspire to be happy (and who doesn’t?) will want to. Marriage is no longer what earlier liberals called an “obscene bourgeois institution” or “a comfortable concentration camp.”

Only marriage can respond “to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there,” writes Kennedy. Not to marry is to “be condemned to live in loneliness.” Lovers, friends, parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, neighbors, coreligionists, brothers-in-arm, colleagues—none of them can be counted on to respond to our lonely cries of anguish. All bachelors are not only unmarried—they’re also unhappy.

All this adds up to a really interesting coincidence. In deliberating on the question of gay marriage, Justice Kennedy proclaims that we are absolutely free to be who we want to be—except when it comes to gayness and marriage. Only Kennedy’s syllogism trumps autonomy:

  1. Everyone has a right to pursue happiness.
  2. No happiness is possible outside of marriage.
  3. Sexual orientation being immutable, gay marriage is therefore a right.

I wrote the same thing 2 weeks ago:

Anthony Esolen destroys Kennedy:

Dignity—the reverence that it rightly demands—springs from the reality of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God. Reality, not fantasy, not social convention. When Jefferson wrote that certain rights were “inalienable,” using the term in its most precise signification, he meant that even we cannot divest ourselves of them. We have those rights whether we like them or not. Therefore there is a givenness in man; he is at the least the sort of creature who possesses rights which he cannot sign away, or wish away. He may recognize them and honor them. He cannot annihilate them, because he has not created them to begin with.

Frank Sheed, in Society and Sanity, cites the philosopher Seneca, Homo sacra res homini: “Man should be an object of reverence for man.” But why, unless the being of man rightly calls forth that reverence? “It would be a highly mystical position,” says Sheed, “to maintain that man has these rights, no matter what he is—that if he is a chemical formula, he has a right to life and liberty; if he is an animal, different only in degree of development from the other animals, he has a right to life and liberty.” Poetaster Kennedy has now elevated that “highly mystical position” to the status of immutable constitutional law. We have an individual right to determine what in the sexual sphere is good and evil, because there are no such things, really. Therefore the right also is a mere fiction.

I do not believe that Kennedy himself is aware that that is what he has done. But there it is, in the nihilistic verses from Planned Parenthood v. Casey, verses writ with the blood of the innocents whose murder it justified. If the meaning of the universe depends upon my opinion, then the universe has no meaning, because I can change my mind at any moment, and—ping! the galaxies spell out a new word, and the very quarks shall speak. Yet is that not what freedom is all about, asks the freshman?

No, dear freshman, that is not what freedom is all about. Liberty is not a permission slip, but a power, a power that respects the reality of the creatures upon which it works, including the self. The sculptor, says Sheed, loves the marble he works with, not because it is what he fantasizes it to be, but because it is what it is, plain and simple, in all its resistance. If I love children, I love them for what they are, and do not corral them into inhumanly large herds, for the sake of efficiency in the twelve-year-long paralyzing of their brains, otherwise known as schooling. Freedom is emphatically not my assigning to them what “meaning” I wish, but rather my submitting to the goodness of what they are, as children. The principle that Kennedy puts forth is no principle at all, but the betrayal of all principle: for a principle presumes reality, and Kennedy has located our supposed freedom in unreality. Another way to put it is that, like the eternal teenager, he fails to see that liberty and law are twins.

He has also founded our social life upon the antisocial. He might as well have written, “Every man is an island unto himself,” a dreamer on an island, ignoring all the other dreamers on their other islands, and yet asserting that his dream on his island must be respected, just because he has dreamed it. What that ultimately means is that we are no society at all. For society, says Sheed, citing Augustine, is defined by the greatest love that unites us. The universal solvent of Planned Parenthood v. Casey is that no love shall unite us, because there is no reality in man’s life which we must all honor, whether we like it or not, and very often we will not like it—why, if I am the determiner of meaning, should I revere people who are cruel or lazy or stupid or dishonest or ugly or vulgar?

Kennedy has gotten everything wrong, as ambitious sentimentalists are wont to do. Man is worthy of our reverence as man. But his thoughts are worthy of our reverence only insofar as they are true. His deeds are worthy of our reverence only insofar as they are virtuous; and virtue is grounded in truth. I must revere the thief as man; I must not revere him as a thief, because he would be a better man, and more the man he was made to be, were he not a thief. I must revere the sodomite as man, not as sodomite, because he would be a better man if he could integrate his desires and his deeds with the reality of his body. The truth of the sexes, male and female, is stamped upon their bodies, so clearly that even children understand it. To treat a man with reverence is to honor that manhood, what is given to him in the structure of his mind and body; it is not something he has chosen. To treat a man as if he were a woman is to do violence to that manhood and that body. Need we spell this out?

Here finally I hear a soft and simpering voice, the last gasp of the lie. “But what harm will it do to pretend that the two men are married, even if, strictly speaking, they aren’t? Can’t we simply shrug and go about our business?” No, we can’t. Justice Kennedy is a kindly sentimentalist, but kindliness divorced from truth is no real virtue; that sort of thing is often the result of having a good digestive system, and a comfortable bed to sleep in. Other sentimentalists are not so kindly. They have names like Kinsey, Sanger, Stalin, Kevorkian, and Mao. Ignoring reality, ignoring the law of our being, ignoring the peculiar goodness of the sexes, is always foolish, even when it is not downright evil. You may pretend that such truths do not exist, just as you may pretend that you can suspend the law of gravity as you step off the edge of a cliff. Nature, and Nature’s God, are not required to oblige your fantasy.

George Weigel wrote two great Obergefell post mortems. One:

The marriage battle was lost in the culture long before it was lost in the courts. The foundations of our culture have eroded; now, the New Normal insists that literally everything is plastic, malleable, and subject to acts of human will. The result is a moment of profound moral incoherence in which understandings of human nature and human happiness that have stood the test of experience for millennia are being discarded as mere rubbish—and those who resist trashing the moral patrimony of humanity are dismissed as irrational bigots, religious fanatics, or both. This New Normal is willfulness-on-steroids, especially when that willfulness involves human sexuality. Nothing, it seems, constitutes aberrant behavior—except the public defense of traditional virtue.

Two:

The consensus that sustained the American experiment included the truth that there are moral truths inscribed in the world and in us, truths that we can know by reason. Thus Jefferson, penning the Declaration we commemorate on Saturday, may have thought that he was acting as a simon-pure son of the Enlightenment by enunciating “self-evident” truths. In fact, in the long view of Western cultural and intellectual history, he was channeling his inner Aristotle, his inner Thomas Aquinas, and his inner Robert Bellarmine during those steamy summer days in Philadelphia in 1776. The American consensus included the truth that society exists prior to the state, which meant that the state exists to serve society, not the other way around. [John Courtney] Murray’s fondness for Anglo-American constitutionalism (which he carefully distinguished from Jacobinism and other Continental psychoses with grave political consequences) was influenced in no small part by his passionate commitment to limited, constitutionally constrained government—which in turn reflected his heroic intellectual efforts to disentangle his Church from the fondness for close altar-and-throne alignments that he regarded as a temporary aberration from the authentic Catholic political tradition (a claim vindicated, I might add, by the social doctrine of St. John Paul II). On this understanding, true government—government that had the moral authority to command, not simply the raw power to coerce—was by definition limited government; a robust civil society was essential to the democratic health of the republic; and government should not usurp the proper functions of civil society.

I’m not Catholic, but it’s telling that the best Obergefell commentary, from Clarence Thomas’s dissent to Weigel to Esolen, comes from Catholics.


Ralph Hancock, also at Public Discourse:

The anthropological view is so called because it appeals to biological facts and to a closely associated social reality. Ryan Anderson lucidly lays out the argument for this view in a recent article:

For marriage policy to serve the common good it must reflect the truth that marriage unites a man and a woman as husband and wife so that children will have both a mother and a father. Marriage is based on the anthropological truth that men and woman are distinct and complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children deserve a mother and a father.

The government is not in the marriage business because it’s a sucker for adult romance. No, marriage isn’t just a private affair; marriage is a matter of public policy because marriage is society’s best way to ensure the well-being of children. State recognition of marriage acts as a powerful social norm that encourages men and women to commit to each other so they will take responsibility for any children that follow.

Redefining marriage to make a genderless institution fundamentally changes marriage: It makes the relationship more about the desires of adults than about the needs—or rights—of children. It teaches the lie that mothers and fathers are interchangeable.

In other words, marriage is an institution intelligible only by reference to enduring truths: Children are produced by the union of man and woman and flourish best with their biological parents. Marriage interests the state because the state cares about children. According to this anthropological view, the truth about marriage is fully responsive to, and therefore restrained by, truths about man. Apart from those truths, the institution doesn’t make sense.

Now, to be sure, no argument concerning human existence and the good life achieves the level of a mathematical demonstration. It’s unavoidable: No vision of the good life can be absolutely demonstrated to everyone’s satisfaction, but we still have to choose between the alternatives, and we should do so based on the quality of reasoning in the respective arguments. This argument for marriage, even if one disagrees with it, is reasonable and comprehensible. Supporters of the anthropological view would find slight but welcome consolation if the culture war’s current winners could bring themselves to acknowledge the existence of reasonable argument and evidence on the other side.

But the slogan “Love wins” bespeaks a definite triumphalism, rooted in the conviction that the opposing view has always been baseless. “Love wins”—that’s all there is to it. No nice and reasonable person would stand against “love.” Why oppose “progress,” unless you’re motivated by “bigotry”?

The love-wins view of marriage is not just about the love of same-sex couples, but also about the love (read: approval) of fellow citizens. To love, on this view, means always to accept another person’s own conception of his own good. The rainbow-faced advocate of pure and simple “love” enjoys at once the thrill of moral sincerity and the prestige of intellectual superiority. To count as a great lover of humankind, all I have to do is to let my neighbor do as he or she likes—and assure him that I respect his right to express himself as he likes. To impose any view of human nature would be to stand in the way of self-definition, and that’s bad. To be enlightened is to be on “the right side of history,” to show contempt for inherited moral structures insofar as they hold us back.

At the same time, from the anthropological point of view, the love-wins conception seems lighter than air, strangely oblivious to the human condition. The concentration on a wide-open “love” appears to be doubly seductive to persons grounded either in revealed law or in reason understood anthropologically. Revealed principles, history, and philosophy are all necessary to inform the concrete meaning of “love,” for a human being is a certain kind of being (a child of God, part of an orderly and lawful creation, a fallen creature with great potential for evil as well as good).

In order to identify Christian charity with the “all you need is love” mentality, one’s warm emotions must be impeded neither by definite, non-negotiable religious covenant nor by belief in a permanent human nature. But from the anthropological point of view, to show love to a person requires respecting that person as he or she is. The content of love depends on truths of revelation and nature.

As with the love-wins view, this has implications for the citizen as well as the lover. For the anthropological view, love is not just about romance, nor is it about affirming others’ desires. It might require telling the loved one something he or she doesn’t want to hear—about consequences, or about repentance, for example.

The anthropological view accords moral and intellectual authority to an order seen as God’s creation. On this view, freedom or agency requires limits and consequences; freedom is not only limited by but informed by responsibility to eternal truth. Only moral agency (freedom limited and informed by covenants with God and by the structure of reality) is truly agency. Freedom is inseparable from the recognition of limits and consequences and, indeed, demands gratitude toward a moral order that we did not invent. While all actual political and social orders will fall far short of the eternal truth of moral agency in some respects (and should be held to account as far as possible), it is good to be subject to flawed but reasonable authority because we all need practice accepting limits on our freedom, bonds that make us free.

The love-wins view cannot even see the point of this authority, because it does not believe we need to pay any attention to “the laws of nature and Nature’s God.” We no longer need a guiding political philosophy or theology, for these concern only supposed permanent features of the human condition with their limits, constraints, and consequences. (Emphasis added)


J. Robert Smith writes at the American Thinker:

Government is a much better weapon if unrestrained by traditional American cultural and societal norms. Marx aimed to destroy marriage, family, and religion. Not transform them, update them or, in the cases of marriage and family, make them more “inclusive,” but destroy them. All three are bulwarks against tyranny. Weaken and then shatter the three and either tyranny or chaos and dissolution follow (and since tyranny loves to fill voids…).

Our founders got it. Wrote Scott E. Yenor, PhD, for The Heritage Foundation back in 2013:

The Founders’ occasional statements and their actions generally show that they held marriage and family life to be, in James Wilson’s words, “the true origin of society” or the first and most vital foundation on which civil society rests. Many states undertook modest reforms in family law during the Revolutionary period and the early republic. These reforms reveal how, for the Founders, the principles of natural rights affect marriage and family life and how marriage and family life support a republic based on the idea of natural rights.

The left, with Marxist cunning, has been corrupting the culture and society for decades. This corruption has been bearing fruit long before the high court’s homosexual marriage ruling, which was the handiwork of a Reagan appointee, Anthony Kennedy (a quisling).


San Antonio has been negotiating, or trying to negotiate, a deal with the police and firefighters unions for a year and a half now. With retired cops’ and firefighters’ healthcare costs rising, their current contracts will crowd out all other spending in the city budget by 2031.

I want them to take a cut. The times are changing. You can’t expect the city to take care of you the rest of your life. Thank you for your service, but please stop reaching into my pocket.

Gavin McInnes wrote 5 years ago at Taki:

Now, I realize they saved thousands of lives on 9-11. That was a phenomenally heroic day in their history and they should be proud. I didn’t even cringe when I saw them in every bar in New York for the rest of September clad head-to-toe in their fancy uniforms and French kissing all the horny women who wanted to show their gratitude. This is what men do. But how long do we have to drop to our knees and say thank you? New York City is 40 billion dollars short on this imminent pension explosion. Civil servants bankrupted California and they’re about to do the same to New York. It’s our children who are really going to be hit by this debt. Stop sitting on my kid fatso!

All these bills force you to ask yourself: do we really need all these firemen? 70 percent of the firehouses in America are volunteer and there’s no evidence they are any worse than the ones putting us in the poor house. I’ve lived in New York for ten years now and have witnessed a total of three fires. During these ten years I have heard at least two or three deafening sirens a day. That’s almost four thousand alarms per fire. About a month ago I said, “screw this,” and ran outside to chase one of these gigantic red beasts. They were storming up Lafayette Street like the sky was falling and were one of about seven city vehicles. (By the way, it’s not unusual in New York to get ten firefighters, five cops, and three EMT for every teen who faints on a field trip to the museum—seriously, my wife works there.)

Eventually, we all ended up on Spring Street where a dozen firemen blocked off the street and some EMT workers from the two ambulances on the scene casually walked into a nearby restaurant. I held in my rage and cheerily asked the fireman what was going on. He told me a guy choked on a sandwich but was fine now. I asked why you need a fire truck for that, and all he said was “First response.” He was referring, of course, to the law that says anyone who hears an emergency call and is qualified to handle it has to get the hell over there. Firemen know CPR so, if they hear of a lodged piece of bread, they all pile into the truck on the off chance one of the ambulances doesn’t make it. The firefighters love it because the sirens say, “Whoooop Whooooop—We’re here—We’re doing stuff—you need us” and we love it because, wait, we don’t love it. We hate its guts. Here’s an idea: How about one of the half-dozen vehicles headed to the call says to the dispatcher, “It’s cool guys, I got this,” and we all save a few million dollars a year?

I can see one of these huge goombahs look up from the steak dinner he’s making for the guys (for $50 an hour) and say, “Let’s see how much he hates us when his house is on fire. Who’s he gonna call then, the Ghostbusters?” Yes, wiseass, I do concede we need firemen. My beef is you have taken that basic truth, and milked it and milked it until it can be milked no more. Nobody’s saying firefighters shouldn’t exist. They’re saying, firefighters, as they exist today, are an unsustainable scam we can no longer afford to fall for. So, New York’s Bravest, get out of my apartment, get off my kids, and don’t come back unless there’s a fire. An actual fire. Like, with flames and shit.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Give me jobs or give me ISIS

“We have to address the youth in the region with jobs and opportunity and a better vision for the future so that they are not tempted by the nihilistic, violent, dead end that organizations like ISIL offer.” –President Obama, July 15, 2015

War is bloody, and President Obama faints at the sight of blood. He’s more interested in the “causes” of evil, because evil doesn’t compute in his secular materialist universe. It’s like dividing by zero. Evil has to be something other than what it is. In his thinking, it’s material grievance, cured by Keynesian stimulus. But that doesn’t mean he won’t take credit for killing Osama bin Laden or Anwar al-Awlaki if it improves his brand with voters.

Hence the Iran deal’s bizarre economic aid package, a 180-degree reversal from 9 years of sanctions. Prosperity matures the spirit, so it goes. Or, in truth, just as easily corrupts it as everything else. A job is a means to an end, it doesn’t supplant an animating ideology like Islam. The 9/11 hijackers were upper-middle-class college graduates. The more contact they had with Western prosperity, the more they hated the West.

“Ideologies are not defeated with guns but better ideas,” said Obama on another occasion recently, totally ignoring how the Soviet Union was contained, Israel survives, and ISIS persecutes minority Christians. Ivory tower nonsense like this is how people get slaughtered. Evil goes unchecked while the mighty formulate vain arguments and weak rationalizations. Evil is evil. Render their souls unto God and do your secular duty to protect the innocent.

George W. Bush put it well in his 2008 address to Israel’s Knesset, one of his finest speeches:

That is why the founding charter of Hamas calls for the “elimination” of Israel. That is why the followers of Hezbollah chant “Death to Israel, Death to America!” That is why Osama bin Laden teaches that “the killing of Jews and Americans is one of the biggest duties.” And that is why the president of Iran dreams of returning the Middle East to the Middle Ages and calls for Israel to be wiped off the map.

There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain their words away. This is natural. But it is deadly wrong. As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemn responsibility to take these words seriously. Jews and Americans have seen the consequences of disregarding the words of leaders who espouse hatred. And that is a mistake the world must not repeat in the 21st century.

Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is—the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history. (Emphasis added)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

How I learned to stop worrying and love Iran

“The truth of the matter is that Iran will be and should be a regional power.” –President Obama, July 15, 2015

The Iran deal (we can’t call it a treaty because treaties have to be approved by Congress) trades regional hegemony to Iran for a weak nuclear inspection and sanctions apparatus. Negotiating from a position of weakness, leading from behind, as is post-America Obama’s wont, wasn’t going to succeed in pressuring Iran to abandon becoming a nuclear power. So rather than fail at that, he succeeded at achieving something worse.

Obama and Kerry’s long-term gamble is that a stronger Iran will be chastened by sitting at the big boys’ table, grows up, and uses its influence to stabilize the region. It’s a hopeful deal, not a wise one, because Iran itself is a force for destabilization. They sponsor Hamas, Hezbollah, and at one time the Iraq insurgency. What will enhanced international credibility give them that they’ve willfully sacrificed until now?

Sure, they’re a check against the horrific, evil ISIS, but remember ISIS was a foreseeable result of our disengagement from Iraq. We were a check on nascent Muslim militias, as well as on Iran, when we were in Iraq. We wouldn’t have to strengthen Iran to degrade ISIS had we not mistakenly followed liberals advice to leave Iraq, leaving a power vacuum that allowed ISIS to thrive in the first place. Where’s Saddam Hussein when you need him?

The worst part of the deal is it strengthens Russia and China, who are already in a superior position to project power in Europe and the Pacific, respectively. Iran will not use its growing influence to support Western interests because we have been the enemy for so long, recent concessions notwithstanding. Iran is more likely to stand with its friends Russia and China when it really counts.

Finally, what a coup for Iran’s mullah-ocracy! In 2009 they were on the ropes. The spotlight was on their filthy, Islamofascist regime after Ahmadinejad’s reelection. The right assurances, the right backing could have toppled the mullahs. Now Iran’s on the brink of American-backed regional hegemony. What a difference 6 years makes.

Contrast that to our reaction to Egypt’s revolution a year later, in which we accepted an ally’s ouster as a foregone conclusion. We supported an attempted populist coup in Honduras by outgoing president Manuel Zelaya, not to mention formally recognized the Communist dictatorship in Cuba. It seems since Obama became president that we’ve completely flipped on how we deal with our allies and enemies. The Iran deal is the starkest proof of that.

Further reading: “Here’s what’s really wrong with the Iran deal” by Robert Satloff.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The way of institutions

My alma mater has revised its sexual conduct policy.

Gay rights activists and secular media were quick to declare victory last week when Baylor University announced it had removed “homosexual acts” from the school’s list of prohibited sexual conduct. Activists believe the change is a move toward affirming homosexual relationships and same-sex marriage. Although a Baylor representative denies the inference, some alumni of the private Christian college in Waco, Texas, said the policy is sufficiently vague to make such presumptions inevitable.

Progress!

Frustrated with the media coverage, Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman said reports have ignored the new policy’s foundation in the amended 1963 Baptist Faith and Message (BFM), the doctrinal statement for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). It defines marriage as the life-long, covenant relationship between one man and one woman.

Bigots!

Seriously, here’s an accurate take of what this means:

But critics believe the omission of a marriage-defining statement within the policy puts the nation’s largest Baptist university in a position to accept—if not affirm—gay relationships when pressed on the issue.

Since I started calling myself a Baylor Bear, Baylor has been driven by the desire for national prominence. They’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars to boost enrollment and elevate the school’s profile beyond its Baptist roots. If they hold firm to Biblical teachings, they’re just a hick school in Texas that didn’t allow dancing until 1996.

The flaw in that logic is, if people want Harvard or Yale or Princeton, they’ll go to Harvard or Yale or Princeton, not Harvard or Yale or Princeton on the Brazos. A critical mass of college students has been reached, and more families are reconsidering the costs versus the benefits of going to college. A non-confessional Baylor can’t compete against better-known brands for a static pool of undergrads.

Do not live the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. (1 John 2:15)

Albert Mohler reported on Baylor’s identity crisis in 2004. At the turn of the century the power struggle between liberals and conservatives had migrated from the Southern Baptist Convention to Baylor. Except at Baylor, the liberals won. To illustrate just how secularized Baylor had become by then, intelligent design researcher William Dembski was forced out by a faculty revolt in 2000—not because intelligent design grated against the Bible, but because it grated against Science™—and the student newspaper editorial board endorsed same-sex marriage in 2004.

I spent 3 years at Baylor and I left without knowing more about Baptists than when I arrived. That’s a failure of education that I blame myself and Baylor for. Not even in my religion or philosophy courses did we think probingly about God’s plan for man and who/what we were supposed to serve with this education we were getting. Fortunately I had a good remedial education:

The way of institutions is rot.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Equality without responsibility

The Ray Rice controversy achieved its purpose. Women have equality with men without the responsibility. There is no debate about it anymore, only punishment for dissent.

She hit De’Andre Johnson first, and he hit back and retreated. Yet he’s the one charged with a misdemeanor. He’s the one kicked off the football team and kicked out of college.

Mike Florio writes at Pro Football Talk:

Unless an elite athlete is under attack by another elite athlete (or by a non-elite athlete with a weapon), the elite athlete needs to disengage and, if necessary, flee. The non-elite athlete who punches or hits or otherwise strikes the elite athlete can then be prosecuted.

If punches are traded, both can be prosecuted, in theory. But the one who does the most damage is likely to suffer the greater consequence—especially if the one who inflicted the most damage ultimately suffered none.

Double standards would be acceptable if they were consistent. In fact I would prefer that women be women and men be men. The differences and inequalities are unavoidable, liberal disincentives notwithstanding.

The fair sex deserves respect and deference, but thanks to feminist “progress” women are not as fair as they used to be. The drunk woman who cocks her fist and hits first does not get treated with the deference due a lady. She has forfeited her title and loses its privileges and protections.

If people want to be respected as full equals, they should welcome being held to equal standards. If they want to be measured by different standards, they should admit the inequality of their stature. But some people want the respect without the responsibility. And some are willing to let them have their cake and eat it, for fear of calling them out on their hypocrisy.