Friday, December 26, 2008

The Left's Obsession with Sex

I read recently about Pope Benedict XVI's recent speech in which he briefly restated the Catholic Church's eons-old position on human sexuality. Apparently, he took about 50 words to make this pronouncement. He spent the other 3,450 words of his speech tackling issues like the environment, torture regimes, global poverty, and evangelism. What was the only issue addressed in the articles I read about the speech? The 50 words about sex. My wife and I were traveling from Chicago to NH and stayed at a Super 8 Motel in Clarion, PA. The scrolling marquee at the bottom of the TV screen in the lobby had a blurb about the speech, which only said, "The Pope tells people to respect gender roles." (Of course, that description itself is absurd. He said nothing about "gender roles", but about the unchangeable nature of human sexuality. A "gender role" is something you act out, something you do; your sex is something you are, something at the core of your being.)

But somehow it's the Catholic Church that's obsessed about sex? I join Rod Dreher in saying, "Give me a freaking break."
People who define themselves primarily in terms of their sexual desires insist that the rest of us have to see the world and judge others entirely through their monomania. [W]e know, of course, that to many American liberals ... what matters is not the empty stomachs and diseased bodies of the poor, but only their genitals. That's the standard by which good and evil -- and religion -- must be judged.
Don't believe him? Listen to Michael Winter:

The most unintentionally funny commentary came from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. As reported by Rocco Palmo, they issued a statement that read: "In a season in which the immorality of genocide, lawless governments, lust for money and power and the destabilization of the world’s economy are destroying the lives of hundreds of millions around the world, the Pope’s obsessive focus on gay, lesbian and trans people who simply seek the right to live and love is out of touch with what humanity needs right now from its religious leaders."

Who is obsessed about sexuality? One sentence in a long speech constitutes obsession? When was the last time the Holy Father spoke about anything to do with gays? When was the last time you heard a sermon that focused narrowly on sexual ethics? Somebody is obsessed with sex, but it isn’t the Holy Father or the Church he serves.

A report in Zenit shows what truly obsesses the Church: "Some 27% of health care centers that attend AIDS patients around the world are administered by the Church; 44% are run by governments, 18% by nongovernmental organizations, 11% by other religious institutions, and 8% by other groups." I commend all groups that help care for those who suffer, but before you write a check to the Clinton Global Initiative, you might want to think about how much the Catholic Church accomplishes for the poorest of the poor with much less money. But, we have something the NGOs do not have, the precious awareness that the poor are created in the image and likeness of God.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Perspective on Blago

Daniel Larison offers some much-needed perspective on the relative seriousness of the alleged Obama-Blagojevich ties. It's not clear what those ties were, although if they're as bad as they possibly could be (an unlikely scenario) they're still peanuts compared to the now apparently confirmed fact that the US government explicitly pursued an official policy of torture and lawbreaking at the highest levels of authority.
It’s all very well to insist that Obama be as forthcoming and transparent as possible concerning any connection between himself and his staff and the Blagojevich matter. Transparent, open government was an important part of what Obama promised as a candidate, and he should be held to his pledges. Even so, am I the only one who finds it absolutely crazy that anyone is this concerned about Obama’s answers on Blagojevich when we have just had a Senate report released that confirms that the highest levels of the current administration were implicated in and responsible for serious violations of the law? This is the sort of thing that some people have insisted not be investigated and prosecuted during the next administration’s tenure for various unpersuasive reasons, and not least because of the concern that it would appear to be a partisan witch-hunt. Obviously, we are not concerned about such appearances in Blagojevich’s case, because we think it important to enforce the law here, so why not enforce it when the crimes involved are far more serious and there are far greater breaches of the public trust? We are watching a strange spectacle, in which the entire country fixates on egregious corruption of one prominent public official while appearing to be largely indifferent to the systemic corruption and illegality of the highest officers in the executive branch of the federal government relating to matters of national security and prisoner abuse. To answer Prof. Cole, there is nothing mystifying in the timing of the report’s release–Congress’ desire to bury this issue and avoid doing the hard things necessary to defend the rule of law is evidently very strong.
The first comment on this post (posted by a conradg at 2:38 pm on 12/12) makes clearer how deep and systematic a problem this explicit policy of torture is for the US intelligence community:
One other neglected, related story is the trouble Obama is having finding a qualified CIA director who is not tainted by the practices of torture over the least eight years. Brennan was rejected because of his defenses of these practices, but finding someone who is clean is proving almost impossible. The real scandal here is not about who Obama ends up appointing, but that the entire intelligence-gathering community of the United States seems to have been so complicit in these crimes that there seem to be no high level officials, however, competent, who have not been a part of this regime of torture. This is astonishing. It clearly has not been the fault of a few rogue officers and low level officials, it has pervaded the entire intelligence community from top to bottom, and cleaning that rot out is going to take quite a lot of effort. It doesn’t even sound like it is going to be possible to ferret out those responsible, since everyone seems to have been complicit. It’s going to take some very stringent rules and disciplines, and we are going to have to count on many of the same people who broke the law to comply with and enforce it. Yikes.
It's going to be a while before we finish plumbing the depths of the damage Bush has done to America. I'm more convinced than ever that his presidency will go down with those of Wilson, Nixon, and Buchanan on the short list of the most terrible and harmful ever. I believe that Obama's policies will do real damage to America, but just by not being George W. Bush he's already in less danger of being a truly horrible president. How sad, tragic, and pathetic that is.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

South Korean "democracy" in action.

You've got to love South Korean democracy. Or perhaps I should still call it "democracy". South Korean democracy is still young, less than 20 years old. Before that, Korea a Japanese colony for a generation and then torn apart by a massive civil war. After the war ended in 1954, South Korea was ruled for 35 years by a benign dictatorship -- 20 of those years by one ruler, Park Jung-hee. During those 35 years, Koreans regularly protested for self-rule, and that protesting was the only way that average Koreans could make themselves heard. Consequently, a lot of Koreans still consider protest (sometimes violent protest) a legitimate way to cause changes in society. Many of them don't trust democratic processes, and protest when things don't go their way.

This is what happened today. The Grand National Party (GNP), the conservative ruling party, has been trying to introduce a previously negotiated free trade agreement (FTA) with the USA into the General Assembly for months, but has been stymied by opposition parties who have said they'll "do whatever possible to stop it." That includes occupying the Grand Assembly chamber so the bill can't be introduced. Well, today the GNP decided to beat the opposition parties at their own game and locked them out of the chamber so they could introduce the FTA to the relavent subcommittee (where the GNP has a majority) for referral to the full General Assembly (where the GNP also has an outright majority so it can finally be voted on.

Not only did they lock opposition parties out, but they posted security guards outside the entrance to keep opposition members from entering and then used furniture to further barricade themselves in. The opposition members were, of course, furious, and used sledgehammers and "other construction tools" to bust their way into the main chamber, all the time being assaulted by security guards using fire extinguishers. The result was grown men scuffling outside the national legislative chamber, with at least one man bleeding from a head wound. It was pathetic, embarrassing, and farcical. It seems like something out of a Monty Python sketch. Unfortunately, it's real life in South Korean government.

The more I get to know other cultures, the more I realize how exceptional American democracy really is, and what a folly it is to try to replicate it in places which simply aren't suited to it at present (like Iraq, Ukraine, Georgia, etc.).

George Orwell, eat your heart out.. (Or "The New York Times talks about black families.")

So, according to the New York Times, the decades-long trend of an ever-increasing number illegitimate black children (which is increasingly the same as saying "black children", since nearly 3 out of 4 black kids are illegitimate these days) being raised in single-parent homes has been reversed. Sounds like great news. Then you read the fine print, and notice that the only change here has been the US Census Bureau's definition of "parent", which now means "any man and woman living together, whether or not they are married or the child's biological parents."

You've got to love blatant ideological agendas. Intractable black illegitimacy has long been embarrassing for many Liberals. They obviously need to fix it, but how? They could fix it by promoting marriage, but that would be too gauche, too bourgeois. Instead, they've fixed it by redefining "parents." Pure genius.

James Taranto has a great response to this kind of nonsense:
"The problem of illegitimacy and broken families had seemed intractable for decades, but the Census Bureau has been able to make a significant dent in it, at virtually no cost to the taxpayer, merely by redefining the word parents. And why stop there? ... Why not redefine together to mean "on the same planet"? So long as at least one man and one woman live on Earth, whether or not they are married or the child's biological parents, every child is being raised by two (or more) parents, and this will remain true at least until we begin colonizing space. Hey, it takes a village!"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

TMQ explains the bailouts

One of my favorite weekly columns to read is Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback, a review of the week in football (mostly NFL, but some college and high school) plus a bunch of political, social, and scientific analysis. Easterbrook is Left-of-center politically and socially, so I don't always agree with his statements on those fronts. Still, the man makes good points.

In this week's column, he zeroes in on why Congress gave $700 billion to Wall St. without much of a fight but raised a ruckus over giving $14 billion -- or 2% of the Wall St. bailout -- to the Big 3 automakers and the UAW.

Millions for AIG Executives, Not One Cent for Autoworkers: Congress signed off on a $700 billion financial-markets bailout without even knowing how the money would be used. Yet Congress has argued and argued about $14 billion to keep the Big Three automakers in business. Why was the huge number approved easily while the smaller number is resisted? Because the smaller number can be understood! Few people in Congress comprehend what AIG does or what credit-swap derivatives are, so when these subjects come up, eyes glaze over. (It might be that the people who run the financial sector are bluffing and don't understand what they are doing either, but that's another matter.) In contrast, everyone drives a car, has opinions about cars, and has opinions about $50-an-hour wages. Plus, the political ramifications of an auto bailout are much more clear than of a financial bailout. Thus the small number gets more attention than the large number -- classic government misplaced priorities.


For its part, the UAW could not have acted more arrogant. Union leadership wants typical Americans who earn less than $50 an hour taxed so that most UAW members give up nothing. Around the country, employees are accepting fewer hours or benefits to keep their companies going until the recession ends -- but not the UAW; it demands federally subsidized exemption from the laws of economics! The UAW talks as if it's still 1966, the Big Three has dominant market share and unlimited money, and it's just a matter of demand and management gives in. Plus low-quality assembly-line work is one of the reasons Detroit got into its present mess. Non-UAW autoworkers in Toyota and Honda plants in the United States, who earn roughly the same $50 an hour in wages and benefits, build great-quality cars that make their firms successful. The UAW won't take responsibility for its share of the Detroit decline; with UAW leadership it's always "we're victims, we're not responsible." Nobody, it seems, caused the decline of Detroit. Blame space aliens!

Meanwhile, Congress is shocked to learn that the executive pay limits in the Wall Street and banking-industry bailout package are toothless. Who's to blame? Congress. It was the members of Congress who voted for a bailout package whose executive pay "limits" were unenforceable, plainly intended solely as a PR exercise. Yet Congress did nothing. Now it turns out AIG is paying top executives up to $4 million each in taxpayer money as "retention bonuses," justified on the transparently fake claim that otherwise they will jump to other lucrative offers. The financial industry just experienced widespread layoffs, there are no other lucrative offers! But what is Congress doing? Nothing! Not even rushing to amend the legislation to prevent further abuses. Congress is in the situation Congress likes best: Members of the House and Senate can complain nonstop while taking no responsibility for anything and wasting large amounts of other people's money.

How to pay for national health insurance

A satirical look at how to accomplish one of President-elect Obama's key priorities, national health insurance. It's not all laughs, though. Look at the last line: "Note: This is how all government spending programs will be funded in the future." That's no joke.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Australia has completely lost its mind

Well, just the state of Victoria, actually. For now at least.

It will now be the official policy of the state of Victoria to discriminate against white males. I'm not even exaggerating. That will be the OFFICIAL policy. Read the article.

They call this discrimination "positive" discrimination in the article, as if discrimination is inherently negative only when white males engage in it. It's like the term "reverse racism", which I despise because it implies that "racism" is an inherently white activity -- that only white people can be racist -- while non-whites can only be "reverse" racists, not true racists. This kind of terminology angers me, I'll be honest. It's insulting and ignorant. It shows that the people using those words haven't really thought about or reflected on what they're saying.

I don't understand how someone can contort his mind to the point that he views discrimination (which in modern Western societies is the new sin against the Holy Ghost -- the one unforgivable sin) as a positive thing, assuming it only affects white males. You have to be a real dittohead (that is, a thoughtless, brainwashed follower) to be able to a) wrap your head around that thought or b) view it with anything other than complete and utter contempt and loathing.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Foundations of American Conservatism

James Ceasar, a professor at the University of Virginia, has written a really excellent essay analyzing the different strains of thought that formed the foundation of American culture in general, and American Conservatism in particular. It's a little long, but it's well worth reading. I highly recommend it.

Celebrating racial unity, American style

Behold, Blackbird, the new browser designed exclusively for black folks. I'm not joking. The description of Blackbird on the site is:
"Blackbird is the web browser for the African American community. Blackbird was developed by a team of African Americans to allow you to connect to what's going on in the African American community."
Now, if a group of white folks developed a web browser designed exclusively for white folks called something like, I don't know, White Dove, my guess is there would be problems. Big problems. I'll venture a guess, though, and say there will be no problems surrounding the launch of Blackbird. I'll allow you to draw your own conclusions about what these probable facts say about the dynamics of "racial reconciliation" in America these days.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Doghouse

This is pretty hilarious:

It reminds me of a Christmas several years ago when my father bought my mother 12 gifts: 11 electronics and computer items (some really good stuff, too) and a diamond necklace. She returned all 11 electronics and computer items, but kept the necklace. Next year he bought her five gifts: all jewelry. Lesson learned, I suppose.

Of course, I can't help but point out that if J.C. Penny made a similar video about women giving men crap gifts and being punished for it, they'd be denounced as sexists, probably boycotted, and possibly even sued. Apparently the glass ceiling was shattered in advertising a long time ago.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Anglican schism and same-sex marriage

Jon Meacham, an editor at Newsweek, recently penned a diatribe against the schism in the Episcopal Church over the ordination of homosexuals. He calls the pro-traditional morality side's reliance on scripture in opposing homosexual ordination and same-sex marriage "the worst kind of fundamentalism." He compares homosexual marriage to interracial marriage, since persons from neither group can help being how they are, and shouldn't be punished for their identities. He then lays out a "Judeo-Christian" case in support of same-sex marriage.

Besides exposing his own profound ignorance of both Holy Scripture and Christian tradition regarding human sexuality, Meacham makes it clear that his agenda isn't organic change but revolution. Daniel Larison makes a better response to Meacham's error-filled diatribe than I could:

Having already shown that he has no grasp of [Christian tradition or scripture regarding human sexuality], Meacham proceeds with his “Christian case for gay marriage.” He puts enormous weight on the intrinsic nature of homosexuality, which is to make a quality of postlapsarian nature normative. In a fallen world, everyone has a predisposition to act contrary to our true nature, but in no other case that I can think of do we pretend that indulging such a predisposition is inevitable, much less something to be embraced and approved. Meachem is no more persuasive or credible when he cites examples of how certain passages have been abused in the past. Nowhere in his article does Meacham even begin to take seriously the central importance of denying oneself in Christian discipleship. God did not call His people to indulge their inclinations, but to deny themselves to follow Him. This is why the comparison with race is so inapt and ultimately so absurd. There is no way that, and no reason why, someone of any race could refrain from being the way he was born. Homosexuality is entirely different, in that acting on it is a matter of volition and a determination to pursue one’s own will rather than denying it. Whether or not one is born with such an inclination, that would not be a license to indulge that inclination. Meacham’s argument is essentialist and actually denies the responsibility and agency of homosexuals, which is far more of an attack on their humanity than refusing to allow them to “marry.”

The heart of Meacham’s argument does not bear much scrutiny, and we have not even come to the question of how entirely divorced Meacham’s entire argument is from a Christian understanding of the purpose of marriage. Procreation is an important part of that purpose, and joining two people from different sexes in complementary relationship is another, but beyond that it is a vocation to unite oneself to a person radically different from oneself. The uniting of complementary opposites as a type of the unity between Christ and His Church is one of the mystical meanings of marriage. The Christian conception of marriage is of two people joined into one flesh, the full expression of which is a child. Nowhere in the “great Judeo-Christian tradition” that Meacham supposedly takes so seriously is there support for his argument.

The velvet glove around the iron fist becomes a little thinner in Europe

So, it will now be a real crime to say anything "racist" in the EU. Seeing as how the EU gets to decide what is and is not "racist", and seeing as how EU representatives have outright stated that anti-white statements are not racist, we can be pretty sure who the EU is targeting with this law: white Europeans who aren't happy about the massive influx of nonwhites into their countries over the past 20 years. This would be like making lynching a crime in the South 100 years ago, but then declaring that when whites hang blacks it isn't really "lynching".
"Anti-racism will be to the 21st century what Communism was to the 20th," philosopher Alain Finkielkraut had warned us. We are now taking giant strides in this direction.
Europe will be a Muslim continent in 50 years (if current birth rates and immigration policies hold), Muslim immigrants in Europe commit a disproportionate amount of crime, and millions of native Europeans don't like either of these facts (if they're allowed to pay any attention to them at all by the puppet theater European media), yet bringing any attention to these facts whatsoever will now land you in jail for 3 years. As bad as America is, it's worlds better than the tyranny across the pond. For now, anyway. In four years though ...? (I shouldn't exaggerate. Even Obama and his screaming hordes can't do that much damage in four years. I hope.)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Rock, Paper, Scissors: A Korean tradition we Americans should pay attention to

I write a monthly article for the website The Only Orthodoxy. Last September, inspired by the way Koreans use rock, paper, scissors to resolve all kinds of conflicts, I wrote an article laying out the reasons why rock, paper, scissors works so well and comparing the legitimacy enjoyed by rock, paper, scissors to that enjoyed by a healthy, functional democracy.

Last week, I wrote a follow-up article in response to the destructive behavior of opponents of Proposition 8 in California. My unfortunate conclusion is that rock, paper, scissors just wouldn't work in contemporary America. Too many Americans today refuse to accept losing, even if the contest itself was completely legitimate. Too many of us no longer have the discipline or sense of honor to be good losers. We're
increasingly a country of sore losers -- except that when it comes to matters of policy, the sore losers can wreak all kinds of havoc. Many of the things that a lot of the anti-Prop. 8 folks have been doing have been despicable, plain and simple, and if such behavior isn't checked and repudiated, it will destroy American democracy.

Finally, a place for my big mouth to call home.

I finally decided to take my wife's advice and start my own blog. Previously, I'd used the blog she created to chronicle our time teaching in South Korea as a space to air my thoughts on politics, religion, and social issues. She wasn't pleased, but I refused to get my own blog. Well, with our time in South Korea rapidly drawing to a close (two weeks from today, we'll be in an American Airlines plane flying over the Pacific, en route to Chicago) my couple-blog soapbox is in its last days. I need to find a new place for my thoughts to call home. As the title of this blog indicates, this is the place.

This is the place where I'll air my views on serious subjects (faith, politics, social issues, and the like) as well as less serious subjects (movies, sports, books, family stuff, etc.). This is the outlet that will give my friends and family release from my emails and article forwards, as well as the discussions I try to strike up because a really important thought comes to mind that I have to share with somebody. It's the place where my logorrheic tendencies can work themselves out into something that's hopefully more coherent and meaningful. It's the place my big mouth can finally call home.