Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hillbilly Lament: Why are today's poor more desperate than yesterday's despite the fact that yesterday's poor were poorer than today's

Are good country people not as good as they used to be?

Rod Dreher writes today about Terry Teachout writing about J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy:

My own late grandparents were more or less the same generation as Terry’s Gracie and Albert, and equally humbled by circumstance. But they had dignity and self-discipline and character. The only thing they lacked was money, and opportunity.

How is it that when America had far less in the way of material wealth, and families of the poor — black and white both — had far more pressures on them, they did not succumb to self-degradation as so many of the poor do today?

Why are today's poor more desperate than yesterday's despite the fact that yesterday's poor were poorer than today's? The first answer is dependence. If you look at Eastern Kentucky, for example, what you see is a culture that, having once been ravaged by poverty is now ravaged by a dependency mentality that has robbed people of their dignity and made them vulnerable to all the secondary social pathologies that go along with the destruction of dignity, chief among them, drugs.

People in the Appalachia have served only to enrich the liberal government bureaucracies that feed off of their plight and the private industries--especially the health industry--that feed off of the government bureaucracies that feed off the plight of the poor. The very welfare programs that were designed to help these people have enslaved them. 

The second answer is provided by Charles Murray, who has pointed out again and again that the wages of the permissivist values of the upper class are paid by the lower class. The limousine liberals who spout their lax views of sexual promiscuity and drug use can easily afford single motherhood (or abortion) and have no trouble paying for the drug rehab program. 
 
But the members of the underclass are not so lucky. Single motherhood throws them into poverty and if they get hooked on meth, they're on their own.

Children of broken marriages and those born out of wedlock altogether in a wealthy family have a support system that the poor do not have. If you doubt it, go down to your local family court and see what life is like now among the underclass.


Peter Burger said that we are "a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes." The trouble is that there are things Swedes can do that Indians can't--at least without serious repercussions.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

#TimKaine signed the same religious freedom bill as Pence. So where's the outrage?

Remember the public meltdown among the Tolerance and Diversity crowd over Mike Pence signing an Indiana law that simply underscored the traditional protections religious people have enjoyed under the First Amendment's religious exercise clause?

Well, it turns out that Tim Kaine signed virtually the same law on Virginia in March of 2007.

The media has repeatedly brought the Indiana law up as justification for criticizing Pence as the Republican's vice presidential candidate. So why isn't Kaine criticizable for the same reason--particularly since he is the running mate for the liberal candidate for president ("liberal" being defined as the political faction which stands for progressivist values, but only when the political winds are blowing the right way).

As far as I can tell there has been no national coverage of this fact, which means either that the media doesn't know it yet, or that they know it and are giving Kaine a pass.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The new pro-gay Republican Party

So now Trump is "reaching out"--not just to the "LGBT community"--but the "LGBTQ community." No wonder they seem to be gaining influence: They keep adding letters, so fecund is the new gender ideology. Pretty soon they'll have appropriated all the rest of the letters of the alphabet and there will be no stopping them.

LGBTQRSTUVWXYZ. It's coming. Mark my word.

How great, said the pundits--on Fox News no less--is this "new Republican Party." Trump even put up Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal, to proudly declare his sexual identity (or orientation, depending on which is more politically beneficial at the time) to talk about how we need to "put culture wars behind us"--complete with cheers from the new Republicans in this "new Republican Party."

That's just what the victors in a culture war would say--victors preening before the camera at the convention for the party that used to represent the other side in those culture wars. It does not bode well for those now seeking Constitutional protections from the increasingly aggressive and punitive Gender Police.

They talk a good game on religious freedom, but when you have to regularly genuflect to the very group of people who are its greatest enemy, it's kind of hard to maintain your credibility on the issue.

And the same day that the new Trump-drunk Republicans finish their convention in which this "new Republican Party" was loving up the people who are the worst threat to religious freedom in this country, Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, endorsed their nominee.

Maybe, like Jerry Falwell, Jr., Perkins could take a picture with Trump in his office with the framed cover of Playboy Magazine with Trump on the cover in the background.


Conservatism was nice while it lasted.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The lyin' guy whose father helped assassinate JFK and whose wife is a bimbo didn't endorse #Trump. Go figure.

That the Trumpites who are all up in arms about Ted Cruz not explicitly endorsing Trump last night did not expect Cruz say exactly what he said (and didn't say) is a measure of just how fatuous is Trump's support.

The Morning Jolt captured it perfectly:
But why is everyone so surprised? Trump nicknames him “Lyin’ Ted,” argues he’s a Canadian ineligible for the presidency, retweets an image mocking his wife’s appearance and suggests his dad had a role in killing JFK, and never apologizes for any of it… and the Trump team is surprised Cruz didn’t endorse him?
Why were they and the RNC so surprised by a text they saw beforehand? Trump’s chief strategist, Jason Johnson, contends they weren’t.  “Since it’s obvious the shock is contrived, let me ask: What the H**l did they expect from the son of the man who killed JFK? Lighten up.”
Either the people booing were naive (a tendency common among many of Trump's supporters) or it was disingenuous.

And the only thing worse than the common run of naive or insincere Trump supporters is those current Trump supporters who were formerly Cruz supporters who now profess to be ashamed of him.

After all, if I have give up my principles so that my party can "win," why doesn't Cruz do it?
Wednesday night is going to be one of those nights that political junkies talk about for a long time. Ted Cruz’s decision was bold, reckless, politically stupid, brave, principled, divisive, gutsy and vindictive, all the same time. If you’ve spent the last couple years complaining that all politicians are spineless hacks who only follow the weather-vane and refuse to stand on principles, you’ve got no reason to complain this morning.
I agree with all of that except the part about political junkies talking about this for a long time. Political junkies don't talk about anything for a long time. They have very short attention spans. They're a bunch of Dories who can hardly remember what happened last week, let alone a year ago.

This will be virtually forgotten after next Sunday. Two weeks tops.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Will #MikePence be any help to cultural conservatives?

Rod Dreher today on Mike Pence, Donald Trump's new running mate:
Trump has picked a running mate who, when confronted by alpha-male bullies in corporate boardrooms who want to impose their will, will acquiesce. Trump, an alpha-male corporate bully in his own right, must have seen what Pence did when big business ganged up on the state of Indiana over religious liberty, and then decided he was a man with whom he could easily dominate. They deserve each other. So, vote for Trump if you like — he’s still the better choice for people who only vote on the Court — but don’t do it because you think Mike Pence will be of any help to religious and social conservatives.
Amen.

I'll be posting later on why social conservatives need to break entirely with big business "conservatism." The mega-corporate world has broken almost completely with cultural conservatism. It is now, almost without exception, the enemy. And the sooner social conservatives see that, the better off they will be.

A big thinker at Big Think engages in Small Think about religion

One would think that at the Big Think they would know how to do it a little better than this. But this is always the thing with atheists (or skeptics or rationalists or whatever else they call themselves): they don't actually engage in rational thought or discourse; rather, they strike a rationalist pose.

I just want to know when we're going to see these great rational atheistic thoughts we're always being promised instead of the disappointingly vague and logically questionable pronouncements we keep getting.

Derek Beres, one of the resident Big Thinkers, in his "Is Religion the Problem?", writes about the role of the religious mindset in the recent Baton Rouge police shootings:

In many ways, religion is born out of this idea: the soul is what really matters; eschew the physical and focus on the moral prescriptions arising from your prophet (or the ‘voice’ inside your own head).

Well maybe some religions do this, but strangely enough, the most major major world religion, Christianity, is certainly not born out of this idea. Apparently Beres forgot that part about the resurrection of the body and the new Heaven and earth.

But somehow, in some vague sense never actually identified by Beres, the belief in an afterlife constitutes an "ideology" that has some bad influence on people:

... a body is necessary for consciousness to occur. While it is not only our brain producing it, without a body what we term ‘consciousness’ does not exist. Neuroscientists and researchers quibble over what that term actually defines. They do not argue about an ethereal version of it ‘out there’ invading what is ‘in here.’

How could he possibly know that a body is necessary for consciousness? Because all the consciousnesses he knows inhabit bodies? If there was a consciousness that existed outside a body, how could he know it? This reminds me of C.S. Lewis' dialog in which one of the characters asks another how a scientist could possibly know anything about what or whether anything existed outside of nature, given the fact that the only thing scientists study is nature. How can you pretend to know anything about something you, by definition, do not study?

There is also the problem that anyone who denies the existence of anything metaphysical has to have a physical account of consciousness. Well, good luck with that. We're still waiting for some clever materialist to come up with a purely physicalist account of something that is, by definition, not physical.

Don't hold your breath.

He says:

A metaphysical philosophy on what we are always ends in disappointment and, too often these days, violence. The meat and bones of our being is the reality of the planet we share.

Umhmm. Is there, like, any evidence that metaphysical systems are any more conducive of disappointment or violence than non-metaphysical systems? If so, does this evidence include Marxism and Nazism?


And I'm not exactly sure of what we're talking about when we start using expressions like the "meat and bones of our being" being the "reality of the planet." It's not a bad metaphor, but it's not exactly clear what it means. It sounds like some sort of attempt to talk about being (a metaphysical concept) in some physicalist way, but unfortunately, the thought is stillborn.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Again, yes, #Christianity and #Islam DO worship the same God

The question about whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God got hashed out pretty well a year or two ago, and I gave my opinion that, whatever their diffences (and there are crucial ones), Christians and Muslims do worship the same God.

But I notice Alan Schlemon at Stand to Reason has another post in which he gives another argument against this position. Stand to Reason appears to be a blog engaged in popular apologetics. It says it "trains Christians to think more clearly about their faith." If that is the case, then, on this issue, at least, it seems to have fallen below its own self-stated standards.

It seems to me that there has been enough intelligent Christian defense of the position that, in fact, Christians and Muslims do worship the same God in any meaningful sense that a popular apologetics blog should by now, if not have acknowledged this itself, at least have come to terms with the arguments made by people like Edward Feser, Frank Beckwith, and James Chastek. The second problem is that his arguments on the other side of this issue just aren't very good.

In an earlier post Schlemon says,

Do Christians worship Jesus as God? Yes. Do Muslims worship Jesus as God? No. Therefore, Christians and Muslims don’t worship the same God because they don’t both worship Jesus.

The first problem with this is logical. Here are the two premises:

All Christians worship Jesus as God
No Muslim worships Jesus as God

But logically the only thing you can conclude from this is that "No Muslim is a Christian." The conclusion "Therefore, Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God" quite literally is not an option.

The second problem is that, on the same grounds you would conclude (illogically) from these premises that Muslims don't worship the same God, you would also have to conclude that Jews do not worship the same God as Christians. I don't know if Schlemon believes that, but his logic here would demand it. This was one of Beckwith's telling points. Are we to believe that the God Abraham worshiped is not the God of the New Testament? 

Shlemon then argues on the basis of his distinction between the use of the term "God" as a title and as a person:

It’s helpful to think of it as a public office. The president, for example, is the title of a position, but a unique person occupies that office and fulfills its duties.

In the same way, God is the title of the position or office. Both Christians and Muslims believe in the same what – a God whose duties include things like creating, receiving worship, and judging. They differ on who they believe is the person who occupies that position. Muslims believe that person is Allah and Christians believe it is Yahweh.

Again, this seems to me entirely unconvincing. It is, in fact, a distinction without a difference--at least for purposes of this issue. There can be no separation between the person and the office when you are talking about God. They are one and the same--there is no God (office) who is distinct from God (the person) and vice-versa. The only usefulness of that distinction is within the nature of God himself (the Trinity). For this issue, however, it can serve no purpose.


Asking whether Muslims and Christians believe in the same God is the same as asking whether geocentrism and heliocentrism are descriptions of the same universe.

... If you’re asking whether contrary theories to explain the same fact are about the same fact, then the answer is (analytically) yes.

In an interesting way, the denial that Christians and Muslims worship the same God is a denial of the denial that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, since, if in the statement "Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God," the term "God" does not refer to the same thing, then Christians and Muslims could not differ in their worship of Him.

If you do not agree on what you disagree about, then you can't disagree about it.

And, again, Schlemon's argument would implicate the Jewish God at the same stroke.

These arguments are from an earlier post. His new post adds this argument:

Claiming that Muslims and Christians worship the same God is an expression of Islamic theology, not Christian theology. But why affirm an Islamic teaching? It’s the Qur’an that claims that the God of Islam is the same God in Christianity (Surah 2:139, 29:46). That means you affirm the Qur’an is correct when you claim Muslims and Christians worship the same God.

If Nazis brush their teeth, should we knock ours out? The assumption here is that whatever Muslims affirm the Christian must deny. That assumption is mistaken on the face of it. But let's also see where it would lead us:

That God is omnipresent is a thing Muslims affirm
All things Muslims affirm Christians must deny
Therefore, All Christians must deny that God is omnipresent

It also assumes that if we affirm anything the Qur'an affirms, we ipso facto affirm the Qur'an. But we affirm many things the Qur'an affirms (God's omnipresence among them). Even Schlemon wouldn't assert that it's wrong at every single point

This seems to me to be rather sloppy reasoning all around.

Again, Islam is a Christian heresy. A heresy is a system of believe which deviates from orthodoxy by deducting certain beliefs from it. Islam has deduction the concept of the Trinity from the concept of God. That does not make for a system of belief that is entirely contradictory to Christian, just one that deviates from it in important respects.


In regard to its concept of God, the result is not an entirely different God, just a very flawed one.

Don't let sex education get into the hands of these people

Actually, now that I think about it, it already is.

But on a more important note, forget the revolt against social conventions, now we have the explicit denial of reality itself. From Matthew Twuininga at Public Discourse:
When I recently asked a class of undergraduates at Oglethorpe University if any of them thought there were “no meaningful differences between men and women,” two female students raised their hands. When I pointed to the obvious reproductive differences between males and females, which give young women the unique ability to conceive and bear children, they looked at me as if I had committed an act of hurtful bigotry. “It’s just not fair to put people in a box like that,” one of them offered.
Read more here.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Is Mike Pence really a "principled conservative"?

Trump has picked Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate. In response, U. S. Senate President Mitch McConnell, Kentucky's senior senator stated, "Pence is a principled conservative, man of faith, and talented messenger for Republican ideas."


Um, well, if he was a principled conservative, why did he wimp out in the defense of his state's religious freedom bill, agreeing to a change that made Indiana less friendly to religious freedom, not more? And if he was a "talented messenger," why wasn't he able to hold his ground on it?

You can't rightly call conservative politicians principled if, when the debate get's heated, they bail on you. It's easy to stand for things you don't have to fight for. It's what you do when you're faced with opposition that tells you just how principled you are.

Pence failed that test. 

Friday, July 01, 2016

Liberals in full hypocrisy mode over #MattBevin appointment to U of L board

Lest anyone thinks liberals are actually serious about tolerance and diversity, here comes a few reporters at the Courier-Journal to clear things up.

In fact, if you want to see a clinic in intolerance and bigotry, just go to the Louisville Courier-Journal''s opinion page and behold liberals, in full hypocrisy mode, as they attack a conservative appointed by the Bevin administration to the University of Louisville's board because, well, he's a conservative.

In several web posts and an opinion piece, the CJ assails Doug Cobb, a businessman from Prospect, who has doubts about two unquestionable liberal dogmas. We go to two scandalized reporters at the CJ (James Bruggers and Phillip Bailey):

One of Gov. Matt Bevin's new University of Louisville trustees regularly takes to Twitter to deny mainstream climate science and say that being gay isn't compatible with Christianity, while also taking aim at U of L sports.

And this disqualifies you from serving on the board of a state university ... how? 

And that he would "take aim" at U of L sports? Seriously? I mean the last thing we need on the board of scandal-plagued university is someone who takes a dim view of scandal.

Then there is the ridiculous Tim Sullivan, a CJ sports reporter. Cobb's positions, he says, "make Cobb a curious choice for an institution that values intellect and inclusiveness while maintaining a prominent sports profile."

Yes. Of course. We all know the terrible athletic consequences when governors appoint conservatives to university boards. 

First let us just behold the irony of someone who is trying to exclude someone from something because he disagrees with him in the name of inclusiveness. And, secondly, let us ponder the additional irony of a sports reporter opining about political issues in the very act of calling someone else unqualified.

His attack on Cobb was titled, "A Headline Waiting to Happen." Waiting to happen? When there are liberal reporters with an ax to grind who can write them? Is there some problem I am not seeing?

In fact, why is this controversial at all? These are commonly held beliefs among conservatives. You can disagree with them all you want. But why is this news? I'm trying to remember if I've ever seen a feverish story in the CJ about the astonishing fact that the Pope is Catholic, or breaking news reporting that bears do their business in the woods.

I mean, seriously people. Get a grip. And once you've gotten a grip, go ponder just how absurd you look accusing a conservative of being a conservative and how hypocritical you are when, after delivering sermon after sermon on diversity, you go ballistic when someone you disagree with gets appointed to a university board.

You've drunk the Kool-Aid on man-made Global Warming? A phenomenon that causes just about everything, but is caused by one thing and one thing only? Polar bears are close to extinction? Even cold weather proves your theory? In fact, everything proves your theory? Fine. Cherish it. Go pretend that an utterly unfalsifiable theory is science and that everyone must believe it no matter what (in fact, do this after lecturing someone on the evils of how the Church tried to force its opinions on Galileo, just for further ironic effect).

You think that Christianity and same-sex marriage are perfectly compatible? Despite crystal clear condemnation of homosexuality in the Old Testament? Despites Paul's condemnation of it in I Cor. 6:9? Despite of Jesus saying, in the context of his discussion of marriage, "he made them male and female"?

Go right ahead. I mean, if sports reporters can do politics, why not theology?


Sheeez.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Why Johnny Can't Add

From my article in the Summer edition of the Classical Teacher magazine, "Why Johnny Can't Add":

This is one of the most controversial aspects of modern math pedagogy: the complicated way in which it proposes to teach simple arithmetic. This is not an accident and is, in fact, very intentional. The idea behind this “multiple strategies” approach is to intentionally complicate the process of learning arithmetic in order to force the student to think about the procedures he is learning. The more strategies employed to teach a child to solve simple arithmetic problems, goes the reasoning, the better off he will be. 
This is exactly the opposite approach to that taken by traditional educators. If we were to haul the teacher in my father’s one-room schoolhouse into a modern math classroom, her first impression would be that the education world had been turned upside down. She would wonder why we had completely over-complicated a simple procedure. And if we were to tell her that the reason we were doing it was to get children to understand arithmetic better, she would get out the dunce cap and put us on a stool in the corner.
Read the entire article here.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Elitism in Democratic Drag: Why liberals opposed BREXIT

I was out of town when the British thumbed their noses at the EU and much of their own government by voting to leave the European Union. I walked back to my hotel room from the convention I was at and turned on CNN, where commentator after commentator declared that BREXIT was the end of British civilization as we know it, and that, in general the sky was falling and we're all going to die.

The curious thing about all the hand-ringing is that it was accompanied by virtually no explanation as to why, exactly, BREXIT was bad for Britain or anyone else. I watched for a full two hours and didn't hear a single reason why this was such a disaster, other than that it was upsetting to liberals. There may very well be a downside, but you wouldn't have been able to actually detect it in any of the apocalyptic rhetoric coming from the media.

In fact, for some of us, large numbers of upset liberals is itself a good sign. 

Why did liberals oppose BREXIT? This question is of course related to the question of why liberals like the EU so much in the first place. 

The reason liberals opposed BREXIT (and like the EU) is that liberals are elitist. Despite all the rhetoric about democracy and egalitarianism, liberals are fundamentally and philosophically opposed to both.

What inclusion in the EU means for the common person is that he will have important decisions made for him by faceless bureaucrats in Brussels, the capital of the EU. 

It is a maxim of organizational political dynamics that the bigger the bureaucracy, the more liberal is its leadership. Exhibits A and B: the EU, the UN. Elite bureaucracies are always more liberal than the people.

In addition, having a governing system in which decisions are made by anonymous people in faraway places means never having to say you're sorry. And to be a liberal leader in a member country puts you in the position, when you are criticized for some absurd liberal policy imposed on you by the technocratic elites in Belgium's capital city, to be able to simply shrug your shoulders and say, "I'm sorry, but we have no choice but to comply because we're EU members."

Most liberal policies would never see the light of day if liberals had to depend upon the ordinary processes of an even vaguely democratic government. The only way most of them can ever succeed in being implemented is if they are forced on the public by institutions that are unaccountable to the people.

This is how here in the United States we got abortion-on-demand, same-sex marriage, and now transgender bathrooms. Only rarely are these kinds of policies the result of the democratic process. They are almost exclusively the product of some unelected and unaccountable bureaucratic or judicial elite. And that's how we get trade deals that enrich trans-national corporations and line the pockets of people like Hillary Clinton while putting middle class Americans out of work.

Like all elite institutions, the EU is peopled by "progressives," the Anointed Ones, who know better than the rest of us how we should live our lives. 

And that's the way liberals want to keep it. That's why they are in favor of the Supreme Court in the United States being able to rewrite the U. S. Constitution on a whim without going through the constitutionally appointed process of amending it. It's why they want the bureaucracy in Washington to be able to issue proclamations that have no grounding in any law passed by Congress. It's why they like the UN.


And it's why they opposed BREXIT.