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February 2011 Archives

February 1, 2011

The Vanguard of the Revolution

Hat-tip to Mangan for pointing out what he rightly describes as "a simply amazing post" by Degowulf at "The Joy of Curmudgeonry."

Long story short: documents released by WikiLeaks reveal our public officials busily meddling in the internal affairs of France, in an attempt to promote their worldwide agenda of egalitarianism and multiculturalism. Here's a sample:

"In keeping with France's unique history and circumstances, Embassy Paris has created a Minority Engagement Strategy that encompasses, among other groups, the French Muslim population and responds to the goals outlined in reftel A. Our aim is to engage the French population at all levels in order to amplify France's efforts to realize its own egalitarian ideals, thereby advancing U.S. national interests. While France is justifiably proud of its leading role in conceiving democratic ideals and championing human rights and the rule of law, French institutions have not proven themselves flexible enough to adjust to an increasingly heterodox demography. We believe that if France, over the long run, does not successfully increase opportunity and provide genuine political representation for its minority populations, France could become a weaker, more divided country, perhaps more crisis-prone and inward-looking, and consequently a less capable ally. To support French efforts to provide equal opportunity for minority populations, we will engage in positive discourse; set a strong example; implement an aggressive youth outreach strategy; encourage moderate voices; propagate best practices; and deepen our understanding of the underlying causes of inequality in France. We will also integrate the efforts of various Embassy sections, target influential leaders among our primary audiences, and evaluate both tangible and intangible indicators of the success of our strategy" [emphasis added].

And that's just the opening summary of a much longer document which repays careful study. As Deogowulf aptly paraphrases:

"In other words: ongoing, widespread, and subversive manipulation of the workings of another country for the sake of an egalitarian-revolutionary ideology. Here it seems that France, the land of the world’s second-born left-wing republic, is just not left-wing enough for the land of the world’s first."

Strong new evidence for Mencius Moldbug's contention that, temporary aberrations apart, the true vanguard of the worldwide leftist revolution is now and always has been...the United States of America. Or, as Fjordman comments at Mangan's: "This raises the following question: Is the United States of America currently the Anti-White Empire, dedicated to the dispossession and destruction of people of European origins worldwide? I fear the answer to that question is yes. As much as I loathe the European Union, the EU is secondary to the US in importance."

February 2, 2011

Choice devours itself--Planned Parenthood willing to aid child traffickers

Warning: I have not watched the video I am linking for this post, as I have not had an opportune "no children coming to watch over the shoulder" moment in which to do so. But I think it's important enough to make this connection now, as the news is breaking.

According to summaries of this video, it shows a pro-life "sting" operation against Planned Parenthood in which the PP employee coaches people pretending to be child traffickers in a) how to lie to obtain abortions for their minor girl sex-slaves and even get a "student" discount for various PP services, b) when they can once again begin having the "girls" perform full sexual services after an abortion (a shockingly short minimum of two weeks), c) how to use them as "part of the action" during that two week period, and d) where they can find a lower-class abortion facility that is less monitored than PP and that will ask fewer questions. (Wonder if this is how Kermit Gosnell got some of his customers. But remember--his existence was somehow the fault of pro-lifers who didn't give women enough money to kill their children.)

One wonders: Does this PP worker claim to be "pro-choice"? It boggles the mind. In my original "choice devours itself" piece on the old Right Reason, the point of mine that generated the most comment concerned foreign aid workers who enabled sex traffickers, promising not to help girls escape in return for access to the slaves.

It seems nothing has changed, and the pattern is emerging in the U.S. The sexual revolution with its talk of "choice" leads us to situations where the high priests of that revolution sacrifice choice on its altar--without a qualm. This PP worker seems to know the ropes pretty well. Wonder how often she has done this with real pimps and child traffickers?

Will charges be filed against PP? I'm cynical enough to think not. I remember a different case in which the pro-life group who made this video was forced to turn over the video (in that case, of a PP worker coaching a girl on how to lie about her age and that of her boyfriend) because of violations of wiretapping laws. Yep, those are the most important laws to enforce. The ones against being accessories to child trafficking and statutory rape, not so much.

I'll be glad if I'm proved wrong and the FBI and other relevant agencies sweep down on this. Please let me know if you see a story indicating that it's happening for real.

By the way: Yes, I'm aware that PP has engaged in furious damage control, firing the employee and reporting to the FBI, though obviously Woodruff wasn't doing so. No, this does not make the video a "hoax." That would be if, you know, the video were not real. Some people don't know how to use words. I have linked the unedited version above, as apparently PP attempted to use the fact that it had been edited for length originally to call its authenticity into doubt. It's unclear whether PP would have contacted the FBI had they not believed (as they state they did believe) that the people approaching their clinics were engaged in a sting operation. In any event, while Ms. Woodruff has lost her job, there could easily be more Ms. Woodruffs out there. And PP, so far from being thankful to Live Action for smoking out Ms. Woodruff, wants (of course) Live Action itself investigated by the FBI. That's right: Shoot the messenger.

Team America: World Police

So, last Thursday, there was this employee of the U.S. consulate in Lahore, a certain Raymond Davis, driving along minding his own business, when a couple of Pakistani youths on a motorbike pulled up alongside him.

Fearing, with some reason, it seems, that they might steal his mobile phone, car-jack him, or worse, Davis pulled out his (apparently unlicenced) gun and shot them both dead.

He then called for help to the consulate, which duly sent a "quick-reaction team" to his rescue. They never reached him, but, while racing the wrong way down a one-way street, they succeeded in running down and killing an innocent passerby.

Davis was arrested at the scene for murder by Pakistani police.

* * * * *

Now is this incident emblematic of American participation in Middle-Eastern affairs, or what?

Racing the wrong way down a one-way street.

February 3, 2011

Loyalty to persons

"All I know is, that Toryism, that is, loyalty to persons, 'springs immortal in the human breast'; that religion is a spiritual loyalty; and that Catholicity is the only divine form of religion. And thus, in centuries to come, there may be found out some way of uniting what is free in the new structure of society with what is authoritative in the old ...'" - Blessed John Henry Newman

Toryism, says Newman, is "loyalty to persons". Conservatism also is "loyalty to persons". That is why, whenever I see a liberal who is fiercely and doggedly attached to his liberal icon as a *person* - Kennedy, Clinton, Obama - I can't help but smile and be a little sympathetic. Such loyalty does indeed spring "immortal in the human breast", even when it is wildly misplaced. We are all monarchists at heart.

A conservatism that forgets this - that ignores this primal longing of men's hearts to serve with fidelity one who is greater - such a "conservatism" is as cold and inhuman as liberalism itself. When conservatives develop a habit of hyper-criticism of personalities, what I call the "politics of teleprompters", they undermine the possibility of an authentic conservatism developing in America which views the flaws of its leaders with sympathy rather than derision, as one would view the idiosyncracies of parents or siblings.

The rise of liberalism means the rise of liberal personalities. Although liberalism constitutes a violent ideological repudiation of "loyalty to persons", liberal personalities cannot survive without the same "loyalty to persons" they profess to loathe.

Granted, loyalty has its limits. But the modern problem is not one of excessive loyalty. Our loyalty, we insist, must be earned - merited. No person has ontological claims to our loyalty. Hence a culture of divorce, broken families, term limits, hyper-mobility, and a performance-based economy in which no job is ever secure. Democracy and capitalism, whatever their advantages, are clearly forces of dissolution when it comes to loyalty to persons - and yet like all systems of human organization they depend upon such loyalty for their very survival. I like to hope that this accidental dependence of liberalism upon personal loyalty may be an accidental means of returning to a truly conservative order.

Egypt Open Thread

To judge by private correspondence, I think the consensus among WWWW's contributors is that, when it comes to the ongoing crisis in Egypt, "the worst thing we can do is something" - and that is certainly my own view (except that I think we ought to give any aid & comfort we can to the Coptic Christian minority there).

But, then, I'm a pretty doctrinaire isolationist (the more so, the more I learn about the USG's current role in the world). So I can understand that others on the right might feel differently. Indeed, it's struck me, in the last few days, that there's a remarkable range of conservative opinion here:

Auster, unsurprisingly, sides with Israel, siding with Mubarak.

Mencius Moldbug, reactionary extraordinaire, goes Auster one better in the "stability ueber alles" department.

Meanwhile, those awful neo-con stooges of Israel beg to differ - apparently not having received their daily memo from Tel-Aviv.

Justin Raimondo's head explodes. (When, if ever, will this guy come to terms with the fact that neo-cons are, by and large, pretty much what they say they are - i.e., relentless advocates of democratic universalism, even at Israel's expense?)

So what do you think? Do American conservatives have a dog in this fight?

February 4, 2011

Can anybody explain this?

Okay, legally astute friends, help me out, here.

Live Action has released another video, this one from Virginia, showing a PP worker who doesn't bat an eyelash at giving advice to a man claiming to be a pimp and sex trafficker as to how to get services for the underage girls he "manages." The main difference between this one and the previous one, which may generate some sympathy for PP, is that this PP worker seems a good deal less odious and conspiratorial in her manner than Amy Woodruff (from the New Jersey video). One even shakes one's head occasionally and wonders whether this staffer, Kimberley, was really listening when the man said that he "manages" these underage girls in "sex work." She chatters on and just seems a tad clueless.

But here's what I'm confused about. She goes on at some length about what she calls "judicial bypass" to the state's parental consent laws for abortions for minors. Did you think, as I did, that a judicial bypass required the girl actually to talk to a judge? Did you think, as I did, that a judicial bypass required the personal involvement a court with court papers, documentation, etc.?

Here is this woman talking about a "judicial bypass" for underage girls who are being trafficked in the sex trade, which she claims can be obtained purely by means of a single phone call made by some outside agency to the minor girl at a phone number the minor girl chooses. Does that sound like a "judicial bypass" to you? Not to me either.

How can this possibly be working? Is there some stack of pre-signed "judicial bypass" papers sitting around at some courthouse somewhere? Is Child Protective Services involved in this? If so, how can they not find out if an underage girl is a trafficked prostitute from out-of-country whose parents aren't anywhere in the picture whatsoever? Who could the "agency" be that makes this phone call, and how do they have the authority to grant a "judicial bypass" on the basis of a single phone call to the girl?

February 6, 2011

Bombshell: NYC's proposed CPC harassment law is also pimp-protection law

Wow. Just wow. I cannot understand why this has not received more publicity.

Some of you have heard about New York City's attempts to harass Crisis Pregnancy Centers by forcing them to post big signs saying that they don't provide or refer for abortions. Such a requirement is insulting, implying that these centers are deceptive (even though they advertise in the "abortion alternatives" section of the phone book, for example), and it is attempting to create an opportunity to harass the centers. A similar law in Baltimore was recently struck down by a federal judge as unconstitutionally compelled speech and as obviously motivated by a bias against the CPC's constitutionally protected speech in opposition to abortion.

I have not previously blogged about this because, frankly, I don't always like to deal with the liberal carpers who come around here, and as sure as God made little green apples, the minute anybody complains about this harassing law, motivated by hatred for people who try by completely legal and non-coercive means to dissuade women from abortion, the resident liberals will start asking, in chorus, "What's the matter? Do they have something to hide? What's the problem with asking them to advertise that they don't provide or refer for abortions if they aren't trying to be deceptive?"

And I had other things to blog about.

But now comes a new revelation that opponents to the NYC law need to be trumpeting from the rooftops. Blogger Gerard Nadal points out that the law requires CPCs not to report suspected statutory rape, abuse, trafficking, etc., for girls between the ages of 13-18. According to Nadal, evidently the problem arises from the fact that New York's mandatory reporter laws are, or have been interpreted to be, applicable only to children 12 and under, even though statutory rape laws apply above that. Into that gap comes the proposed ordinance, which would require absolute confidentiality from the CPCs even for minor clients, unless the client consents in writing to having the specific information released.

Obviously, young girls who are afraid of their pimps or abusers are unlikely to sign such a release. Hence, the law acts as a protective law for those abusers and also, non-coincidentally, puts the CPCs by force on the same plane with Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics who choose to turn a blind eye to statutory rape and underage prostitution.

This is probably a joke

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Or maybe the guy in charge of covers was drunk and put the one slated for April Fool's on a February issue.

Deep-thinking comparison can be found here.

February 8, 2011

Randall Wallace at the National Prayer Breakfast...

...with President Obama, Michelle, and other eminences in attendance. Wallace wrote Braveheart and directed We Were Soldiers, among other things. If you haven't seen this yet, you ought to.

Honor and the disciplines

It has been exactly twenty years since I was in graduate school getting a degree in English Literature. The state of the discipline was depressing then. Twenty years ago isn't "good old days" when it comes to English Literature.

I took one course entirely on Shakespeare's Richard III. That's a little narrow, but I got very familiar with Richard III, and the course was somewhat irritating but not crazy. I do not remember the professor's name, which is perhaps just as well, so I will call her Dr. N. She was ostensibly an academic conservative, and the word on the graduate student street was that her hiring had been considered something of a victory for the last of the old guard in the department, presumably because all of the other candidates were significantly crazier. She, personally, did not write articles with titles like "Queering Shakespeare," nor did she force us to read and write on such papers, and it was from this restraint that she presumably got her reputation for academic conservatism.

Each student had to make a short presentation on the paper he was writing for the course. One female fellow student was trying hard to learn the ways of the English lit. world, and she had grasped the fact that professors encouraged one to talk about gender roles in season and out. So her paper's thesis was going to be that Richard III displays a number of "stereotypically feminine qualities" such as the use of psychological manipulation.

I will never forget the moment when this ostensibly academically conservative professor gave the student a bit of hearty advice: "You need to be bolder. What you should do is write the paper instead claiming that Richard is a woman. Now that would probably get you a publication." Let me add that she was completely serious. This was practical advice. She was not being ironic.

Fortunately, I kept my mouth shut. In fact, as I recall, we were all a bit stunned. The students in the program seemed to me by and large more academically conservative than the professors, and no one quite knew what to say to this suggestion. Somehow, the class moved on.

For some reason this scene has come back to me recently, and I have allowed myself to write, mentally, what it would have been nice to be able to say to the professor. One could even hope that a little generous, youthful indignation might have shocked her into remembering the days of her own youth when, perhaps, she actually loved literature.

Here's one:

Dr. N., why do you advise J. to write that Richard is a woman? Is it because it's true? What would it even mean for such a statement to be true? If it isn't true, why do you suggest that she write it?

Here's another one:

Dr. N., let me get this straight. What you're saying here is that the plays of Shakespeare have no value apart from us. They are just opportunities for us to advance our careers by writing whatever tom-fool thoughts pop into our heads. Is that right?

Why am I doing this? Just out of grouchiness, just to complain, or just to be cruel to a former professor? I certainly hope not, though I'm as capable as anyone of mere grouchiness, complaint, or cruelty.

There is a point to be made here, though: If we academics are even to come close to justifying the prestige we have in society (and I don't think we can actually fully justify it, because academics have, in my opinion, too much prestige in Western society), we have to do worthwhile things, to love those things, and to have a deep desire to communicate those worthwhile things to other people. Nothing else will really do. If Philosophy and Literature (to take two examples) are just meaningless games we play to get career opportunities, they are nothing. It would be better for all the departments in the world to be closed than for the meaning of the disciplines to be reduced to the cynical pointlessness reflected in that professor's remark to that student.

Part of what it meant for there to be a "good old days," whenever those existed, in the academic world was that professors earned the respect accorded them. And they did so by knowing the value of what they did, a value apart from themselves and their careers and apart from their students' careers, and by passing on that value. Honor to all of you professors out there who still know and do that. You are the small candle to which students come--a vision of a world of learning and wisdom that is the only justification for a university.

Crossposted

February 9, 2011

Hoist on his own Petard

This post by Pejman Yousefzadeh has been much linked, in the last couple of days.

In a nutshell, Yousefzadeh complains that Conor Friedersdorf, standing in for Andrew Sullivan at "The Daily Dish" has linked, with limited approval, to a post at "The American Conservative" by a certain Philip Giraldi, who, upon close inspection, turns out to have a long history of expressing the most shocking views [scroll down to "Holocaust as political industry"] - even going so far as to suggest that some Americans have exploited the memory of the Holocaust for their own political ends.

So far, so good.

Unfortunately, in the course of his complaint, Yousefzadeh links, with apparent approval, to this rather remarkable response to Giraldi's screed, by James M. Unger, which includes the following words:

"...the Holocaust...was carried out...with the help or acquiescence of most Christians worldwide...Many Christians believe that the truth of Christianity licenses them to evangelize and otherwise meddle in other people's lives. The Holocaust is unique in the archive of brutality because it invalidated that specific belief...Christianity is the prototype of all modern totalitarian ideologies..."

* * * * *

Well.

I'm trying to figure out why I should be all up in arms about Conor Friedersdorf linking to Philip Giraldi, but all quiescent about Pejman Yousefzadeh linking to James M. Unger. And I'm coming up empty.

February 10, 2011

Civitas

The quality of this site's readership compels me to ask of you: "What makes a good city?"

That modern cities are, shall we say, less good than they should be is (I hope) something of a given. Those who actually thrive in such environments are not the kind of people you want your children to become. It's just plain wrong to walk ten city blocks without greeting anyone or being greeted.

James Howard Kunstler, if you can stomach his frequent vulgarities, has many worthwhile observations on the topic. (I recently threw his book "The City in Mind" into the flames due to his appalling blasphemies.) His musings on architecture, new urbanism, public spaces, city landscaping and so forth strike me as reasonable and humane.

But I lack a coherent vision of what makes a good city. Scale is certainly important. Plato imagined that the ideal city-state would have a population of around 30,000 souls, but this presumes a certain quality. Virginia in 1776 had a population of only 20,000, but just look at the astounding quality of men it produced - Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Mason, Henry, Wythe, and so forth. I look at my own county of 28,000 and weep. [Update: The population figure for Virginia is rightly challenged and corrected in the comments. It's badly off. Please don't quote it.]

Much of what makes cities attractive is what we would now call "diversity". Variety and choices. That's certainly true. But a city should also have character, which means it needs a degree of cultural unity. Character and cultural unity require two things: stability and religion. There needs to be a dominant religious character, and also a strong core of interconnected families who remain in the city for generations. A few modern cities can be described in such terms, but the characters of most are so shallow that such descriptions amount to an exercise in wishful thinking.

A serious deficit in modern cities is that of public space and its regular use by a cross-spectrum of the population. Many cities have public spaces enough, but they are too often monopolized by the homeless, or the drug-addicted, or idle young people. There is little reason for anyone else to gather in these places. A useful public space needs a focal point - a market, a church, a school, proximity to food and drink. The idea is that a man ought to be able to get up from the table after dinner, walk several blocks, and find a few familiar persons with whom to converse in a public space, preferably without needing any money.

And today we have .... the shopping mall.

Assumed Christians

Not too long ago I was discussing the current state of evangelicalism with our commentator Robert, who gave me permission to quote his remarks.

We were discussing via e-mail a certain extremely poor "argument" (really, just a series of assertions), which Robert takes apart here. I had recently had the unpleasant revelation that there are quite a few Christian young people out there who would find the nonsense in question "compelling." I ranted:

What is happening that such a weak...piece as hers could seem like a "strong argument" to a generation? Can it really be that empty rhetoric like "the blazing furnace of Jesus' love"...just overwhelms people and they feel like they have to agree? Talk about sophistry! It makes me tremble really for the future of the church. Something has to have happened to these young people if that's their initial reaction to her nonsense...Do you have any insight on that?

Continue reading "Assumed Christians" »

February 11, 2011

They Have Learned Nothing, and Forgotten Everything

One might have hoped that the fiascos resulting from our attempts to promote the "democratization" of Iraq, Lebanon, and Gaza would have cooled any &/or everybody's ardor to embroil the U.S. any further in Middle-Eastern affairs.

But one would have hoped in vain. The folks at National Review are right back at their exercise, full of advice on how we ought to try to manipulate events.

Continue reading "They Have Learned Nothing, and Forgotten Everything" »

February 12, 2011

Republicanism and Human Scale

LA%20suburbs.jpg

The modern problem is most assuredly one of scale. The industrial, transportation and media revolutions have generated a world of enormous scale indeed. There seems to be a consensus on the Civitas thread that scale imposes formidable problems in creating and sustaining community life. Likewise, the modern scale of things presents serious challenges to our most cherished form of government - republicanism.

Professor Donald Livingston of Emory University, in an article titled "David Hume and the Republican Tradition of Human Scale" in the journal Anamnesis, explains the history and philosophy of this tradition.

Continue reading "Republicanism and Human Scale" »

February 13, 2011

Thrasymachus and the principle of plutocracy.

thrasymachus2.jpg

“I say that justice is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger [and] injustice on a sufficiently large scale is a stronger, freer, and a more masterful thing than justice.”

Thus Thrasymachus, in Plato’s Republic.

In recent discussions I have imagined a brazen young mercenary, a cynic given over to his acquisitive impulse, a member in good standing of the Thrasymachan Party, in the form of a modern financier. Probably he works for a big bank, or once did and now plies his trade by his own lights, by the skills and connections built up over a career of sharp-dealing and success. Maybe he did a stint with Treasury or the New York Fed or the IMF — a little strategic public service after he left Princeton. Now he can get the Secretary of Treasury (an old classmate maybe) on the horn in two minutes flat. The Chairman of the China Construction Bank consults with him regularly. He is master of the universe.

The financier stands before us and declares “My position gives me strength; I can see nothing in the world that suggests I owe anything to weakness, so I intend to perpetuate my strength.”

Now to this mercenary creed one of our liberals, Step2, gave a very interesting answer: “Depending upon the degree of arrogance and harm he could inflict, I'd be willing to sacrifice plenty to make [the financier] pay an immediate price.”

It seems that the Thrasymachan Party’s naked acquisition, this “crass and ignorant” creed of moral rejection, has the power to make liberals sound a lot like conservatives.

Continue reading "Thrasymachus and the principle of plutocracy." »

February 15, 2011

Supply, demand, and writing

It's a matter of supply and demand: When supply is high, the price is low.

Imagine a young person coming to you and actually wanting to sell his writing to make actual money. Let's say, not fiction, even, but articles and essays. Okay, stop laughing, now.

I'm going to stick my neck out. I have no statistics on this, just the impression I get from reading articles and books: Fifty years ago one had a much better chance of actually selling a piece of writing for money than one has now. And the Internet has got to be part of the reason.

Nowadays, everybody writes. Blog posts, on-line articles--words, words, words everywhere. An ocean of words, all available for, more or less, free. A writer may hope to make contacts that way (odious neologism--"networking") or perhaps to advertise his knowledge and abilities in such a way as to lead, very indirectly, to a job in some niche field. But most of us just write on the Internet because we like to write, enjoy the interaction, and have something we think worth saying. It costs us (once we find a kindly-disposed person or company that owns the web space) only our time (which didn't used to be thought of as so "only"), and we don't expect anything in return but attention and interest.

Continue reading "Supply, demand, and writing" »

February 16, 2011

Moderate Materialism

Rather than continue threadjacking Paul's latest, why not give Philosophy of Mind a post of its own?

Picking and choosing at will, here's my version of the story so far:

Paul defined "materialism" as "the doctrine that the material world is all there is."

Step2 claimed that "moderate materialists can emphasize the material world without rejecting poetic metaphor and our moral sense."

Paul replied that "most materialists are indeed moderate, in the sense of moderately disbelieving in materialism." [heh - good one! - ed.]

Bill Luse demanded to know: "What the hell is a moderate materialist?"

I suggested that emergent materialists, among others, were moderates, in comparison to eliminative materialists.

Bill Luse objected: "there's no such thing as a moderate materialist."

Lydia chimed in with Bill Luse: "hear, hear."

Well. OK. So here's [sic] my two bits:

Continue reading "Moderate Materialism" »

February 18, 2011

More on materialism and plutocracy.

The philosophical discussion of plutocracy’s principle is said by some to amount to nothing more than “idle abstraction.” The demand from one corner is for facts, facts, facts.

They can be found here.*

Now then, it is curious to me that discovering this principle should be thought so idle and so abstract. To me this principle has factual character that is very much concrete. My attempt below, which may well have failed, was to use a snippet of famous Greek philosophy to illustrate a very real and concrete fact about our political circumstances.

That fact is that materialism with a defiantly amoral twist is coextensive or at least highly correlated with plutocratic forms and innovations. This mercenary aspect, combined with the thrill at outdoing and conquering, is evident it every narrative about finance capitalism over the past 40 years. It is not always (as I have pointed out in the past) simple avarice that drives this usury machine. It is a broader seduction of excellence and ambition. The flow of talented minds from academia to Wall Street is decades-long trend.

This seduction of excellence by power is clearly materialist and even progressive, on my reading. They’re not saying, come to Wall Street to save your soul, or come to Wall Street to immense yourself in the glorious past.

Continue reading "More on materialism and plutocracy." »

February 20, 2011

Sunday Question: To Proceed with Gentlemanly Courtesy..or not

During the Reformation Pope Paul IV, a man of reputedly iron will - though in age seventy-nine at his ascension - is credited with carrying through on the demands of Trent, reforming the morals of both Rome and its clergy. He is also credited with publishing the first Index of Forbidden Books, and with resurrecting another institution to its former ferocity, the Inquisition. Said Erasmus: "An actual reign of terror began, which filled all Rome with fear." When one of his prisoners, a man named Flaminio, escaped the Inquisition by dying prematurely, the Pope bragged that "we have had his brother burned in the piazza before the church of the Minerva...Even if my own father were a heretic, I would gather the wood to burn him." When the Pope died,"Rome celebrated with four days of rioting..."

His successor, Pius IV, informed the Inquisition that they "would better please him were they to proceed with gentlemanly courtesy than with monkish harshness." This was a Pope who "kept clear of war, and reproved those who counseled aggressvie policies." He shepherded the on-again-off-again Council of Trent to its peaceful conclusion, then died after a six year pontificate.

Two men of the same Church, the same Faith, but whose centers of moral gravity were hugely different.

Continue reading "Sunday Question: To Proceed with Gentlemanly Courtesy..or not" »

February 23, 2011

Why women don't belong in seminary

February 24, 2011

Anti-Sharia Legislation in Tennessee

Tennessee state senator Bill Ketron has introduced a bill that would make adherence to the violent and seditious political doctrines of Sharia a crime in his state. Sen. Ketron will undoubtedly be attacked nationwide for this move: these attacks should be countered with as much public support as can be mustered. The bill, which can be read here, is summarized as follows:

The three key provisions in the legislation include:

1.) Gives the Attorney General the authority to “designate” a “Sharia organization” under specific guidelines defined in the bill, including intent to engage in Sharia jihad through violent or criminal activity. Also provides a procedure to ensure proper notice is given for the designation to be challenged.

2.) Defines what constitutes material support to stop the flow of resources funding acts of terror. Provides that those who knowingly provide material support or resources to a designated organization may be prosecuted and subject to a fine or prison sentence of up to 15 years.

3.) Provides a civil cause of action against terrorists if an individual is injured or suffers property or financial damages as a result of the terrorist’s act.

February 25, 2011

Communism's dedicated historian

This is remarkable article. I think it rewards a full and careful read, despite my obvious quarrels with its writer and subject. I am impressed by the lengths to which Eagleton has gone to prove Marx innocent of determinism. Conceivably it is phantom of recent debates here, but I am also struck by how spiritual, even mystical, is the portrayal of historical materialism. The essay shines with a palpable warmth; Eagleton has given us a kind of romance of the 20th century Marxist historian.

Marinate on this extraordinary passage: “Marxism is about leisure, not labour. It is a project that should be eagerly supported by all those who dislike having to work. It holds that the most precious activities are those done simply for the hell of it, and that art is in this sense the paradigm of authentic human activity.”

In other words, Marxism is for hippies too.

Continue reading "Communism's dedicated historian" »

February 26, 2011

Banking reforms

I am strongly impressed by the argument, and the facts marshaled to defend the argument, of this Bloomberg column by Anat R. Admati of Stanford.

Confusing language often obscures the discussion of capital regulation and makes it more difficult to evaluate such threats. Banks often are said to “hold in reserve” or “set aside” capital; capital is described as a “rainy day” fund, and we are told “a dollar in capital is a dollar not put into the economy.” These descriptions portray capital as a pile of money sitting idle and not being used productively. This is nonsense.

Capital is simply equity, the value of shareholders’ ownership claims in banks; and it represents a way for banks to fund their investments without undertaking debt commitments that they might not be able to meet and which add to systemic risk. Bankers are fiercely resisting the suggestion that they use more equity and less debt in funding, even though this would reduce their dangerous degree of leverage.

When debt supplants equity, bank holdings “can be easily wiped out by small declines in asset values.”

If 95 percent of a bank’s assets are funded with debt, even a 3 percent decline in the asset value raises concerns about solvency and can lead to disruption, the need to “deleverage” by liquidating inefficiently, and possible contagion through the interconnected system. As we have seen, this can have severe consequences for the economy.

Debt markets, of course, were the stupendously huge benefactors of state intervention to prop up values, quell panics, and sustain liquidity throughout the acute crisis of 2007-09. Even a cursory perusal of the Fed’s extensive documents concerning its lending activities will confirm this. TARP was different because it eventually involved equity purchases. We may even turn a profit on those capital investments. But the real action was in central bank operations in debt securities: that was where the market mechanism was tested and found wanting, whereupon the state’s own financiers intervened, using the credit of the US taxpayer.

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February 27, 2011

Bernard Nathanson, RIP

Bernard Nathanson, former abortionist turned pro-life crusader, passed away on February 21 at the age of 84.

Nathanson is a testimony to the grace of God and to the fact that no one, no matter what he has done, is beyond the reach of that grace.

Rest eternal grant unto him, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon him.

See also the post and comments at Secondhand Smoke for some interesting memories of Nathanson.

February 28, 2011

Acts 17 federal lawsuit filed against Dearborn

After much waiting, I am pleased to announce that Thomas More Law Center has finally filed a federal lawsuit against those who abused the Dearborn Four last summer. I haven't had a chance to read the brief, but I strongly suspect that it is related to the brief Thomas More recently filed appealing Negeen Mayel's conviction for "failure to obey a police officer." (See my post on that here.)

Best of luck to Acts 17 ministries and Thomas More Law Center in showing the police and the Muslims of Dearborn that they are not above the law. I hope that this will mean that nothing similar happens this next summer and that missionaries are able to speak freely about the Gospel at the Dearborn Arab festival.

Taking advice from a reader

A wise reader has advised me to put up something like this here at W4, and I am taking his advice. My unusual absence last week was the result of an out-of-town death in the family that required some travel, and things are still settling down from that. It seems that my own life will return to normal gradually at this point, but matters relating to last week's events are still occupying my thoughts and time somewhat.

Friends with whom I've exchanged friendly e-mail are welcome to write privately. Comments are closed, as this is meant to be a very brief entry. Of course, prayers from Christian readers are appreciated.