June 2011 Archives
June 1, 2011
Well-behaved people don't make history
I saw a cute little feminist bumper sticker today. Naturally, the other side of the bumper had one of those illegible "Coexist" stickers. The readily readable one said, "Well-behaved women don't make history."
Well, y'know, in one sense that's true. Because well-behaved people don't make history. Fielding's novel Jonathan Wild is based on this very premise. Fielding satirizes the notion of a "great man" that includes tyrants and robbers, so long as they were successful on a grand scale.
Now, I don't want to be too cynical. There have been plenty of history-making people who have deserved their fame.
But for the most part, it's not so far off to say that if you get on with your life and don't do anything spectacularly bad, you probably won't do anything spectacularly good enough to "make history" in the sense of being famous. Which is, of course, just fine. An ambition to "make history" in the sense intended by the bumper sticker is unhealthy.
But it's an unhealthy ambition we teach to all our children. Girls, perhaps, especially, in these feminist days. "You can be anything you want to be." "I want to be President some day." And so forth. It's interesting to see how people react who try standard conversation-starters with realistic children, especially girls:
"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
"I'd like to be a mom."
But I suppose the same could happen with traditionalist boys who've been given realistic expectations.
"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
"Well, I don't know. The economy isn't looking too good. I'm thinking about majoring in mathematics in college, but that's no guarantee of a job. I guess I'll have to wait and see what happens, what God brings along."
It's not good to teach our children that they should plan to "make history." Let's teach them instead to be good, honest, diligent, and godly. And in that way, they will "make history" as it's actually lived by real people--getting married, raising families, loving and providing for spouses and children. That's the kind of history worth making.
June 3, 2011
The iron fist: Obama admin. tries to force IN to fund PP
So, legal eagles, perhaps you can help me to understand this. Indiana has passed a law setting further state requirements on the use of Medicaid dollars within the state so as to block funding of Planned Parenthood within the state. The Obama administration says it's illegal for Indiana to do this. Planned Parenthood has the chutzpah to try to say that defunding it is unconstitutional!
Let's set aside the last of those as absurd on its face. What's the deal with federal law? Is it, as I suspect, sheer bluff on the part of the Obama admin. to say that federal law prohibits states from setting up such further criteria on use of Medicaid funds?
Irony note: This is the same administration that won't enforce federal law in Oregon where federally controlled substances are used for state-legalized assisted suicide.
June 4, 2011
Egalitarianism and social chaos
Besides offering complicated career advice for graduate students, Nate Kreuter explains at Inside Higher Ed why he prefers that his students address him by his first name:
In my own case I have resisted this advice, and I personally prefer to be addressed by my first name by all students. The formalities of a title do reinforce institutional hierarchies and make it easier for new and/or young professors to command respect in the classroom. However, I am more interested in having students begin to see themselves as adults than in reinforcing my institutional status. I feel strongly that part of the social development that takes place in undergraduate education involves students beginning to perceive themselves as adults, and learning to communicate in an adult-to-adult fashion, rather than in a student-to-adult fashion.
This feeling applies even more strongly for me in the case of graduate students. I want the graduate students I interact with to begin seeing themselves as intellectual peers and colleagues, if they don’t already. Admittedly, no matter how formal or informal you are about your title, there is still an enormous power differential between a tenure-track assistant professor and undergraduate or graduate students. I feel though, in my own case, that I am most invested in helping students to see themselves as adults and peers, rather than as only students.
June 6, 2011
Liberalism is absurd
As usual, I'm a little bit late when it comes to recognizing cutting edge developments in liberal "thought". In the conversation below Al directed me to the California statute which codifies the "killing of ... a fetus, with malice aforethought" as no less than murder, except when "solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the mother of the fetus".
There are only two ways of understanding this convoluted law:
1. The killing of a person with malice aforethought is not murder if the killing is obtained with malice aforethought by the mother of said person.
2. The killing of a non-person may be legally prosecuted as murder.
Al's solution to this conundrum is option # 2: The killing of a non-person may be legally prosecuted as murder. And that's where he has to go with it, because option # 1 undermines the jurisprudence to which he's ideologically committed.
Now that's quite a precedent, isn't it? The killing of a non-person may be legally prosecuted as murder. Think about it. The radical environmentalists are going to have a field day with this one. Boliva is a few steps ahead of California, being set to grant constitutional rights to "Mother Earth" - including a generic "right to life". However, the Wiki article notes that the new Bolivian law "gives legal personhood to the natural system", so maybe it's just a matter of re-defining "person" rather than re-defining "murder". It doesn't really matter: the new liberalism is pretty flexible these days and can work with both kinds of sophistry, together or separately, either way. We're not far from a society where killing unborn human beings is a sacred right bestowed by Mother Earth ... and killing trees is murder.
June 7, 2011
Let's be sure not to be human, now
Reader Mike T. suggested that someone here blog about this story. Probably readers have already seen it. Firemen and police weren't "allowed" (the scare quotes are intentional) to rescue a suicidal man from the water because of legal worries leading to departmental rules against water rescue. You see, they aren't certified in land-based water rescue, so they could be sued (heaven forbid) if they tried to rescue someone from the water. What, exactly, might happen that would lead to a lawsuit isn't clear. It's not as though the man could sue them for not letting him die. But suppose he struggled, and he inhaled some water, and then he sued them for trying to rescue him and precipitating the situation. Who knows? I'm just making up a scenario in which they could be sued. Presumably the department would have fired anyone who tried to rescue the man, because otherwise the department could be sued.
Fire chief Zombeck literally told the news that he would rescue a drowning child under similar circumstances if he were off duty but, if he were on duty...well...there are these procedures he would have to follow, you see. Which presumably means, "Nope. I'd let a little girl drown under the same circumstances. Maybe I'd beg a bystander who wouldn't lose his job to go rescue her."
This is insane. Putting on the uniform, being on duty, means that you aren't allowed to help people.
Sort of. Of course, they could have just acted like human beings and damned the consequences. Is that really asking too much? It doesn't seem to me that it is. I'll bet there would have been many contributions to a legal defense fund, not to mention offers of a job, should someone have behaved like a decent human being and suffered repercussions.
But the fact that the system puts huge pressures on its rescue personnel, its firemen and police, pressures that these grown men are unwilling to defy, not to help someone--not even an innocent child--means that the system is seriously warped. It's enough to make one wonder how many other protocols there are like this, and when they might become relevant to one's own life. In how many other situations are "rescue" personnel not allowed to rescue?
Alameda had better change its protocols fast. And stop whining about budget cuts, for crying out loud. What a pathetic liberal response: "What's that you say? We have an insane rule in our department? Well, throw some more money at us and maybe we'll change it."
And if there are other cities with relevantly similar laws, it might behoove ordinary folk to know about it. So you can be sure to call a neighbor instead of a policeman or fireman if you actually need help.
Not Getting WeinerGate
As I understand (or, at least, thought I understood) things, so long as you're a "Democrat," you can engage in sex acts with youthful interns in the Oval Office, and be caught dead-to-rights suborning their perjury concerning same, and that's...no big deal.
And if you're a *gay* "Democrat," your boyfriend can run a brothel out of your apartment, and that, too, is...no big deal.
So why all the fuss about Anthony Weiner's relatively tame internet misadventures?
I'm genuinely puzzled. I honestly don't get it. What am I missing, here? After Barney Frank & Bill Clinton, I thought it was pretty much settled that the Dems can do whatever they want, sexually speaking, and that traditional rules about sex only apply to the "Repugs."
June 8, 2011
Introducing "The Sacred Sandwich"
It is not often that I promote a humor site, but this Christian humor site (Protestant) has been so consistently funny (and quite clean, if not absolutely squeaky), has given so many laughs to the point of tears in just one day, that I think readers will appreciate it. Introducing...
The Sacred Sandwich.
We have, for example:
PoMo the stuffed bear. (Note the resemblance of the man in the pic to Rob Bell.)
And much, much more.
P.S. Oh, and this one, relevant to the Dearborn case, of all things.
HT: Rich Gelina
June 9, 2011
On Moderation: Blogging Malaysia.
Dear friends of mine, Leon and Chris, have begun blogging about Malaysia in recent weeks for The New Ledger. Whatever the original spring of this collective series (it remains elusive and even a touch eccentric to me), the series itself is a fine read indeed. Both talented lawyers, my friends write forcefully and informatively to call attention to, among other facts, the arresting public moderation shown by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, and the common tiresome perfidies of the opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim.
The course to success or failure of moderate Muslims, properly so called, must not be a matter of disinterest to any opponent of the Jihad. Moderation (again properly so called, as against that imposture of the same so often on the lips of demagogues) is a natural buffer against the Jihad; it sets itself against its madness by native inertia, much of the breath of fanaticism stifled. Moderate statesmen are rarely aggressive warmongers.
American foreign policy has been a hopeless muddle so often that lines of consistently are hard to spot. However, the commitment to commerce, to interaction by intermediate institutions seeking peaceful mutual gain, may possibly pass as an example of one of the few continuities in American relations with the world.
The bonds made by commerce and trade have moderating qualities. Compromise and trust often undergird them. They are no guarantee of virtue or friendship, as reckless libertarian and liberal boasters all too often imply, but there is abundant evidence that, as Publius predicted, the commercial interest can work as a vital emollient against more truculent relations. Even straight tribute given to spare a people may be an act of high statesmanship. King Alfred paid off the Danes many times.
In Publius’ day, the cynic replies, commercial interest was more nearly coextensive with the middle class: Industrialists had not yet begun their plunder; plutocrats had not yet accomplished their larceny of labor. Nor did Publius anticipate the rising Slave Power, which back then worked its poison by sly and squalid compromises, but soon would assert more reckless preachments concerning the right for you to work and me to eat.
Yet free soil and free labor is certainly no less American, and probably rather more American, than plutocracy and slavery. Publius had the better of the argument even despite what he managed to overlook. And that argument is the one about commerce encouraging moderation, compromise, friendship, and peaceful relations.
Prime Minister Ruzak’s holds out in a speech the ideal of “a just and equitable peace predicated on the rule of law,” which men of good will everywhere can cheer.
Global Warming is Real
June 10, 2011
Robert George on "the American thing to do"
Dr. Robert George, a widely respected Catholic law professor who does a lot of good in the world, scolded Herman Cain in a blog entry today for Cain's statement that he would require "loyalty proof" from Muslims who wanted to work in a Cain administration. George writes:
If his words are being reported accurately, what he said is wrong, foolish, and unacceptable. It is disrespectful of Muslims, the vast majority of whom in our country are, as Cain himself seems to acknowledge, loyal, honorable citizens; and it is incompatible with a sound understanding of religious freedom (and with the spirit, if not the letter, of the Constitution's no-religious-tests clause). It puts Cain in a camp with Martha Coakley, the hapless Massachusetts Democrat who, when running against Scott Brown for the United States Senate, infamously said that devout Catholics should not work in emergency rooms inasmuch as they are unwilling to be involved in providing contraceptives and abortions. That is a place Mr. Cain surely does not want to be. Now is his chance to show that he is the kind of man who is willing to admit a mistake and make things right. I hope that he will reflect on what he said and, at the first possible opportunity, repudiate the idea that Muslim citizens are to be held to standards of "loyalty proof" higher than those to which other citizens are held. He should make clear that, if elected President, he will hold possible appointees to his administration to exactly the same standards, irrespective of their religious faith. That would be the right thing to do. It would, moreover, be the American thing to do.
I grow weary of my fellow Catholics equating discrimination against Catholics in America with common-sense measures needed to protect ourselves against the mortal threat of Islamism. As a philosopher one would expect Dr. George to know that justice is the rendering to each man his due; the treatment of like things alike, and of different things according to their natures. Catholicism and Islam have objective content: one is true, the other false; one is committed to peace, the other to war; one is a religion of justice, the other of oppression. A man who embraces Catholicism is not the same as a man who embraces Islam: the two things are not alike, and in fact they are naturally antagonistic on many levels. Islamism is a grave threat to the United States, and those who embrace the wicked doctrines of Mohammed should not expect the welcome mat at the highest levels of government. Herman Cain would be wise to stick to his guns, and Robert George to admit his mistake.
The trust that wasn't
I anticipate that we will see more and more court decisions like the one described here by Yves Smith. The mortgage industry, in connivance with bankers and financiers of all shapes and sizes, introduced into the political economy, by means of innumerable frauds and sophistries, a whole field of unhedged risk: namely, the risk that the documents do not demonstrate what the securities confected out of them need them to demonstrate in order to be functioning legal securities.
Bond markets, among other menaces, remain perplexed by this uncertain risk. The financiers, again, have only themselves to blame for their woes. Let some hack attempt to prove that government, dread government, forced these enterprisers to commence their business of setting up trusts to pay out revenue to investors, by failing to properly set up legal trusts for said purpose, and I will presently prove that I am a donut.
The problem is that when the securities are shown to be overvalued, because the trust which holds their underlying asset — the mortgages — wants for legitimate evidence of its right to hold such assets, the financial system as a whole (that is, the collection of big banks which allocate capital in our capitalist system) is struck another grievous blow. The banks are undercapitalized; many are flat-out insolvent. Their parasitism is choking small business everywhere. Large businesses have direct access to capital markets (and indeed investment-grade corporate debt may be just the sort of reliable asset that could conceivably replace government debt as the pricing mechanism for bond markets, in an imagined brave new world of discredited sovereigns); but small businesses must purchase credits from banks. And banks, exposed so gruesomely by their failing mortgage assets, ain’t selling.
So while at the highest, most concentrated and bureaucratic level the weakness of the banks further entrenches the plutocratic principle of TBTF, down in the trenches of small business, the weakness of banks further encourages the failure of even promising firms.
It’s one hell of a mess.
Today’s theme is hospitality. My family and I were on a cross-country (and back again) road trip for 5 weeks, and we have been the beneficiaries of numerous families hosting us as if we were favored nobility. We have been given red-carpet treatment from one coast to the other by friends and family, and it is very easy indeed for me to say that America is not short on hospitality. About half the time we camped, and we received due measure of cold, and damp, and other difficulties. The other half, we arrived at homes we had never visited before, like havens in a storm (sometimes literally), with a fine warm meal, a good snifter of whiskey or top-flight wine, and music played for us fit for singing or dancing or both – in either case music to warm the soul. Jeff C. knows that I am not exaggerating in this description – he and his most accomplished wife and family provided one of our best visits.
June 13, 2011
Cianfrocca on the usury crisis
Here is a brilliant post by Francis Cianfrocca on the continuing credit crisis. His analysis ranges widely, from Europe to America and back, while still effectively focusing on certain points of shared emphasis. One is that so much of world capitalism no less than world governance is bound up in the principle of protecting private creditors. That principle is at the root of TBTF.
Another point of emphasis, or rather point of recall, concerns the recollection of the plain pulverizing fact that it was Treasury Secretary Paulson’s commitment to liquidationist ethics — that is, a principle of nonintervention which permits even the old and venerable to fail — at the moment of crisis when Lehman Brothers tottered on the brink in Sept. 2008, which triggered the panic that enshrined TBTF for good. Paulson tried to hold a line against the rescue by taxpayers of private capital, tried to call the high finance bluff; but he failed. And in the end, Lehman’s fall and the subsequent tumult of that entire autumn put such a scare in policymakers as to remove such a gambit from toolkit of Western statesmen for the foreseeable future.
Below the fold is a big chunk of Francis’s fine essay. But read the whole thing.
CUA Joins the Counter-Revolution
June 15, 2011
The Annunciation, the Two Messiahs, and Divine Justice
There is a certain type of sermon one hears from time to time that has always bothered me. It goes roughly like this: "The reason the Jewish leaders of Jesus' own time rejected him was that their thoughts of the Messiah were earthly. They wanted a military Messiah who would set up a kingdom on earth. Therefore their minds were closed to recognizing and accepting Jesus for who he was."
The problem with this is that it gives the entirely false impression that an "earthly" concept of the Messiah was something manmade, that it arose simply out of the inexplicably "earthly" minds of the Jews of Jesus' time, and that it was their attempt to impose their selfish human desires onto God's plans.
But this is simply untrue.
Read the rest of this rather long and complex post at Extra Thoughts. Comments are directed there as well. Full comment moderation, which is not practical for us here at W4, is turned on at Extra Thoughts, and normal, constructive comments are welcome and will be published promptly.
June 16, 2011
This just in: Frank Turek is a noted Christian apologist and campus speaker who, I've just learned, also does secular team-building and training sessions for corporations. Read here from Mike Adams about how Turek was fired abruptly in the middle of a series for Cisco because someone googled his name during a session break and learned that he defends traditional marriage. The HR person who made the firing decision even thanked the googler for "outing" Turek.
Given the existence of religious anti-discrimination laws, I think Turek should seek legal counsel. It seems entirely plausible to my non-professional mind that he has legal recourse here.
HT: Facebook friend Letitia Wong
June 17, 2011
This is wrong
Yesterday my every-couple-of-months-ly packet of material from Michigan's Mackinac Center arrived in the mail. As usual, I looked through it and kept only a little (I'm manic about throwing out papers). Among the others I found this gem, of which I'd been previously unaware: The NLRB is filing a complaint seeking to stop Boeing from opening a second production line in the state of South Carolina instead of Washington State. Boeing has had a lot of trouble with strikes in Washington State, and it seems probable (gasp!) that its decision in this case is motivated by a desire to get some work done using the second production line without more union trouble. The plant in SC would be non-union. The NLRB wants to force Boeing to set up the line in Washington State instead.
This is wrong. This is unjust. This is one of the things that is wrong with the world. The arrogance and the totalitarian impulse here should anger any right-minded individual. What the NLRB is saying is that even if a company is willing to go to the trouble of starting an entirely new plant that is non-union (Boeing is not closing the Washington State plant, if that mattered), it is to be punished for doing so. You. must. submit. You must submit to strikes. You must submit to union demands. You will not be allowed to go away. You will not be allowed to accomplish your business elsewhere. You, the evil business owner, are a slave. Your impulse to get out from under the conditions dictated by the union is itself wrong and greedy, and it will be punished.
The New York Times article cites an interview in which a representative for Boeing actually said, "[W]e cannot afford to have a work stoppage, you know, every three years." How dare they! A representative for the NLRB has literally called this "an unlawful motive."
Frankly, this story just makes me look back at every discussion I have ever had with any "buy American" tariff advocate and ask: Do the fulminations against companies that have the gall to set up shop in other countries reflect the same disgusting totalitarian attitude that the NLRB is displaying here?
To be sure, there are differences--America vs. other countries as opposed to Washington vs. South Carolina. And that makes a difference, too, to worker treatment. One has to be a real ideologue to think that the Boeing workers in South Carolina will be sweatshop slaves just because they happen to be non-union. This is all true. But my antennae have always gone up at mouth-foaming hatred against companies that have the nerve to try to get any sort of better production conditions, to pay their workers anything different in salary and benefits from some hypothetical scale (which is often in practice union scale) set in the minds of their America-first critics, and to get away from the clutches of the NLRB. Never is there any suggestion of a carrot: "We'll give you a break in labor relations if you keep your plants in America and can prove that x percent of your employees are American citizens." No, it's all supposed to be stick, and it's all supposed to be stick because companies who even wish to spend their money to set up shop elsewhere must be evil and greedy. How do we know? Why, because they wish to set up shop elsewhere! They want to run away. We'll show them who the slaves are. It's all too similar to be ignored.
So the next time you want to start telling me that I shouldn't buy at WalMart, the next time you start talking about the greed and disloyalty of multinationals, you'll pardon me if I point you to the case of the NLRB, Boeing, and South Carolina and ask you, "What is your opinion on that?" And if you hem and haw (or worse), I'll know what this is all about. And I'll be much less inclined to listen to anything else you say about the greed of companies who don't run their operations on American soil.
June 19, 2011
The Missing Case
So here's an odd story in which the good guys triumph, in this month's HSLDA Court Report. They call it "The Case of the Missing Case," and for good reason.
It seems a judge (who remains unnamed) in Mississippi got a very serious case of SHS (Swelled-Head Syndrome) and issued, entirely off his own bat, a court order to local public school officers to send the court all the names and addresses they had on record of home schoolers in the thirteenth district. Yes, you understood that right. There was no case. No case number. No parties. The judge apparently woke up one morning, put on his black robe, looked in a mirror in his chambers, and said to himself, "Self, I think it would be really useful if we [this is the royal "we," you understand] had all the names and addresses of all home schooling students in the district." And the judge answered himself, "Why, self, what a brilliant idea. Be it so ordered." And so the decree went out that all the world should be enrolled.
The local SAO's (school attendance officers) were not happy about this. They sent letters to local home schoolers saying, "Stop us, before we reveal your information." In other words, they informed them of the court order and more or less begged the home schoolers to get a contrary order telling them not to release the information.
The home schoolers contacted HSLDA, naturally. After deciding that FERPA does not create a private cause of action to maintain privacy of personal information, the HSLDA lawyers decided against their first impulse--a federal filing. Instead they filed a petition for a writ of prohibition with the Mississippi Supreme Court, arguing that the lower court had acted without authorization and moving for a stay of the lower court's self-generated order.
Meanwhile, a friendly neighborhood inhabitant of the Mississippi AG's office referred the HSLDA to the obscure case In re: Football Practice (yep, you read that right, too), which apparently had to be looked up the old-fashioned way, in the paper courthouse files. Turns out Mississippi seems to have this sort of SHS problem from time to time. A judge in the third district Chancery Court had, entirely off his own bat, ordered that football practice should cease. Once they had this case in hand, the HSLDA lawyers were quite sure that a petition for a writ of prohibition was the way to go.
After a stay, a brief request to the lower judge for his authority to issue the March 23 court order, and an exceedingly lame response from the judge, the Mississippi Supreme court vacated his order. Non-case closed. HSLDA 1. Power-drunk judge 0.
One moral of the story is that you can always find somebody who has x amount of power who wants to push the envelope to see if he can get x + [a heck of a lot more] power by sheer bluff. The world shouldn't be like that. But since it is, it's a good thing the HSLDA exists. If you're a home schooler, be sure to consider membership very seriously.
June 20, 2011
Review of Dylan in America
The fact that Bob Dylan became a Christian is still very much controversial among many of his fans. It is not too much to say that when he began recording directly evangelical, even apocalyptic evangelical albums of rock music, beginning in 1979, he delivered a shock comparable to that delivered to the folk movement in the mid-60s, when he so famously “went electric” and induced that old Communist Pete Seeger to threaten power cords (chords?) with an ax.
It is well to remember that Slow Train Coming, the first overtly and emphatically Christian album, came but a few years after the revival of Dylan because of the greatness of Blood on the Tracks and Desire, wherein he showed signs of a revival of his old folk roots.
Still, it is a puzzle to me how the singer of “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine” (1967) could ever really shock somebody by being discovered a Christian. The evidence of Christian themes and imagery dates from the mid- to late-60s; and the borrowings from Biblical ideas date from his earliest songs.
The final fact is that Bob Dylan, by becoming an unabashed Christian in song and statement, and yet still churning out some pretty impressive music, is an inducement to shock and outrage for many Americans.
June 22, 2011
On attacking the person you have wronged
From Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope:
Wise people, when they find they are in the wrong, always put themselves right by finding fault with the people against whom they have sinned. Lady DeCourcy was a wise woman; and therefore, having treated Miss Thorne very badly by staying away till three o'clock, she assumed the offensive and attacked Mr. Thorne's roads. Her daughter, not less wise, attacked Miss Thorne's early hours. The art of doing this is among the most precious of those usually cultivated by persons who know how to live. There is no withstanding it. Who can go systematically to work, and having done battle with the primary accusation and settled that, then bring forward a counter-charge and support that also? Life is not long enough for such labours. A man in the right relies easily on his rectitude, and therefore goes about unarmed. His very strength is his weakness. A man in the wrong knows that he must look to his weapons; his very weakness is his strength. The one is never prepared for combat, the other is always ready. Therefore it is that in this world the man that is in the wrong almost invariably conquers the man that is in the right, and invariably despises him.
June 23, 2011
No web site dedicated to the defense of the West against the jihad can let pass without comment the verdict in the Wilders trial in Holland.
Let's not forget: Laws against "inciting hatred" against particular groups (as such) should not exist. Wilders had to argue that he was not criticizing "Muslims" but "Islam." It should not be necessary to make such a defense.
I'm glad he won, but the law remains a hammer in the hand of the followers of Mohammed, and I have no doubt that that law in Holland or similar laws elsewhere in Europe will be used again to stifle criticism of Islam. (Readers can help me out here by reminding me of the name of the woman who is also being prosecuted for criticizing Islam in Europe under similar laws. Not only is her name not coming to mind, without the name it's extremely hard to Google and find it.)
June 24, 2011
Talbott on organism
The always challenging Steve Talbott continues his series of sophisticated and searching critiques of the materialism that rules science these days. This rulership he regards as illegitimate, a kind of mental despotism issuing in numerous blunders and follies and, off at the end, throwing doubt on the nobility of the scientific enterprise as such.
Like Lawrence Brown’s majestic and endearingly quirky book Might of the West, Talbott’s examination of science reveals how dependent our idea of causality is upon the wider world as it impinges on us. The observable world only rarely can deliver to our perception a true pattern of causality; mostly the observable world delivers repeatable succession which is suggestive of causality. It is only by a particular method of intellectual abstraction, which Talbott ably describes as analogous to the reduction of a language into rules of grammar, that we can approximate it.
Now no one ever confused the rules of grammar for the language itself; yet this very sort of error pervades modern science.
June 27, 2011
The zero-sum game, continued
Apropos of the recent news out of New York (which certainly counts as What's Wrong With the World), Lawrence Auster's commentators have more interesting comments to make than I do. One commentator asks, "What were the Republican lawmakers afraid of?" A pertinent question.
A couple of others answer. (Note--my convention is always to put quotation marks around the term "marriage" when describing the sickening simulacrum between two men or two women. I have silently changed these comments to do the same.)
Some posters at VFR wonder why Republican politicians in NY caved into the liberal, media pressure to vote for gay "marriage." Where is that fear coming from?
That fear in part is from the belief that liberal principles are intuitively right. Equality is the sine qua non of the contemporary moral and legislative agenda. All of American and world history is moving inevitably towards an egalitarian society. Gay "marriage" is but one aspect of that engine. The fear for the Republican is a deeply sub-conscious one--"I need to be on the right side of history, I cannot be seen to be against egalitarianism." Even if I believe that homosexuality is morally wrong, my philosophy of government is all-inclusive. In this sense, American history and government can work against morality.
The objective of complete egalitarianism has been enshrined by the civil rights movement of the '60s. There was an air of inevitability about it that has been translated into the gay rights arena. Politicians that voted against total racial integration changed their opinions decades later. The same attitude holds forth today. You may vote against homosexual "marriage" today but some day you will change your vote. We will give you endless opportunities to do so over the next few years--the result is inevitable.
They are afraid of the press, which has a strong influence on their reelection. Any Republican who switches on gay "marriage" can be a maverick or a brave truth-teller of conscience. A Republican who does not switch is a homophobe and reprobate.
They are afraid of the bad opinion of their society in general. This is because, within the ruling class, gay "marriage" is highly if not overwhelmingly popular. It is true that any Republican will know many proles who oppose gay "marriage." But they do not interact with such people every day. They interact daily with the educated class.
They also seek the good opinion in particular cases of their family or close friends. Many people have a homosexual within their family, and most of their family supports that person and his or her partner. Even more people have close friends who have a homosexual close to them.
They are also afraid of the future. Recall that progressives control all education in this country, at all levels. The new generation is fully indoctrinated with rights and equality, not to mention "social justice." They support gay "marriage" at much higher rates than older people.
These observations seem like an accurate indication of how the Republican traitors have come to their treachery and of how they have been taught to think. I hope they are duly punished in the next election. I seem to recall that a conservative group promised to blacklist any politicians who caved on this issue. Let's hope they carry through.
I have only one thought to add: The religious "exemptions" added at the eleventh hour apparently influenced some of the Republicans. Notice how this fits into the idea that this has something to do with equality. The idea apparently is that if we put in religious "exemptions" this can be a win-win situation. This is, of course, a lie. What the Republicans who caved refuse to recognize is that the homosexual agenda is never win-win. It is a zero-sum game. If they win, traditionalists lose. It's that simple. But such simple truth is out of style in the land of politics.
Pray, Christians, for our nation.
June 29, 2011
The Zero-Sum Game: Example #353
In the comments thread, below, I said this, to a liberal commentator:
I've had this go-round with your side before. Here's how it goes:
Homosexual agenda advocate: What do you conservatives care? How does it harm you? Why are you trying to control other people?
Conservatives: Here are 352 examples of the fact that when this stuff is in place, your side gets to control other people--namely, people who think like me--and punish us for not agreeing with you. That's why, just for starters.
HAA--Well, those are all _reasonable_. If people choose to deal with the public, they should _have_ to go along with this. And when we've passed homosexual "marriage," then it really _is_ legal marriage, and it's just acknowledging _reality_ to call it "marriage," so people should be forced to do so.
Conservative: I rest my case.
Well, courtesy of SpeakUp University blog, here comes example #353.
Joshua Wolff is an openly homosexual alumnus of Biola University. Stripped of verbiage, his proposal here amounts to this: Because students with homosexual feelings feel their feelings hurt and upset by policies at Christian schools barring acts of homosexual sex (not, as he implies but can't quite bring himself to lie and say outright, homosexual inclinations), accreditation boards should deny accreditation to Christian schools unless they repeal these policies and allow homosexual students to engage in all the homosexual acts they want.
Poor Joshua Wolff felt dreadfully upset and worried that he would be expelled from Biola because of their student code of conduct barring homosexual acts. Well, gee, I wonder why. I realize this is a wild conjecture, but one guesses that perhaps this was either because Wolff was breaking that rule or because he wished and intended to break that rule. And maybe because if he "came out" he understandably thought that people would (reasonably) believe that he was breaking the rule against homosexual acts.
In the course of telling his piteous tale, Wolff reveals that there were actually faculty members at Biola who "support[ed]" his learning "to love myself as an openly gay man."
You know, those of us who think that homosexual acts are, you know, wrong and contrary to what a Christian school should be endorsing might think that that is the story. Not, "Joshua Wolff felt tense and upset because of a policy on the books at Biola, from which policy he suffered no penalties whatsoever," but, "Some faculty members at Biola apparently support the morality of homosexual acts."
In any event, I'm just waiting for all the liberal lovers of liberty who are opposed to "trying to control other people" to jump in here and deplore Wolff's proposal about accreditation agencies.
Or maybe not.
June 30, 2011
Sacred Music Colloquium XXI
Here, my friends, is the solution - the only cure: the sacred liturgy and its arts. Everything is in order. Let all mortal flesh keep silence. Politics recedes as worship advances. The 21st century, ever present, matters but little; evil times are vanquished with surprising ease.