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Facts and the Faith Go Hand in Hand. Even the little Facts Matter

guards at tomb book cover

Anthony Horvath, PhD, is a Christian author, publisher, and apologist who works out of central Wisconsin.  Contact him at director @ athanatosministries.org.

The word for the kind of work I do is ‘apologetics.’  It is from the Greek.  Many joke:  “Does this mean you are in the business of saying you are sorry?” Very funny!  It actually means, “to make a defense.” Christian apologetics is the ‘defense of the Christian faith.’

This defense usually happens along intellectual grounds, and for some Christians that is an insult to the very idea of ‘faith.’  Obviously, it matters how we are defining our words, but suffice it to say, it is indeed possible to dwell too much on facts and arguments, but it still remains that the same God that brings us closer to him through faith in Christ also made our brains.  Moreover, Jesus himself never relied on mere assertions and platitudes.  He backed up his claims by miracles and appeals to the Scriptures.  See, for example, John 14:11.

So, what kind of work is ‘apologetics,’ anyway?  Well, one of the things I spend a lot of time doing is simply correcting misconceptions about the Bible, God, Jesus, and Christianity, and all the rest.  Many times, I am talking with a non-Christian.  Often, however, it is another Christian.  When it is a Christian, they are often surprised to learn that a small detail can matter so much.  However, when you spend as much time talking with people who have fallen away from the faith as Christian apologists tend to do, you learn that it was the small details that added up to fuel a crisis of faith in the first place.

This Easter, I want to call attention to one of those small details.

On this blog, one of the most popular articles I have posted is about the number of guards at the tomb of Jesus.  Presumably, churches are putting on passion plays, and are looking for insight about that part of the play.  (You may have noticed elsewhere in this magazine that my own ministry is doing a passion play this summer, called “The Passion Experience.”)  Now, if you ask a group of Christians how many guards were at Jesus’ tomb, the general response will be that there were two guards.

Where does this idea come from?

It almost certainly tracks back to Christian art over the centuries, which almost always depicts the tomb with only two guards.  This is a ‘fact’ that Christians believe about the resurrection account that is not derived from the Scriptures, but from artistic portrayals.  Even the recent movie, “Risen” only has two guards at the tomb.  I don’t mention this to condemn artistic portrayals.  I am just explaining where this particular view probably arises, although it does naturally speak to the power of art more generally, which is something else my ministry spends a lot of time talking about.

Why does it matter?

Who cares how many guards were at the tomb?

Who cares if they were Roman guards, or temple guards, or both?

Imagine that you were evaluating whether or not it was a true fact of history that Jesus rose from the dead.  If ever as a Christian there was a fact of the faith that one is counting on to be actually true and real, whether or not Jesus was truly resurrected is it!  But many people challenge the historicity of the resurrection on the grounds that there are many other possible explanations for the disappearance of Jesus’ body, and the notion that the guards fell asleep and the body was, pardon the expression, spirited off somehow, is an obvious one to consider.

If there are only two guards, it is easy enough to imagine that they could have fallen asleep and someone snuck by them.  But what if there were sixteen guards?  What if there was even more than that?  What if the penalty for falling asleep while on guard was death?  For Roman guards, that is exactly the consequence for falling asleep.  Things aren’t that much better for the Jewish guards.  For example, in Acts 12, Herod orders the execution of the guards that were put in charge of watching Peter.  If that is the penalty for losing a live person, imagine the penalty for losing a dead body!

Acts 12 also gives us an explicit reference to the number of guards, telling us it was sixteen.

Jesus’ death occurred during the Passover, when Jerusalem swelled from a population of a hundred thousand or so to more than a million (according to Josephus), and many of these were sympathetic to Jesus, and nearly all of them were hostile to the Romans.  It was for this reason that Pilate was in Jerusalem in the first place.  Given this hostility and the great crowds that were present, it is really inconceivable that fewer than sixteen guards would be tasked with watching the tomb, and it is equally incredible that all sixteen would have fallen asleep.

This little fact would have been well known to the Jews in Jerusalem, which is probably why when Jesus’ enemies concocted the story that the guards had fallen asleep… no one believed them.

No one believed them then, and no one should believe it now.

Do not underestimate the power of such little facts to accumulate and strengthen the faith of young Christians when they are taught such things.  Similarly, do not underestimate the weight placed on a young person’s faith when a series of little facts seems to add up to the idea that Christianity is a fraud.  Today more than ever, the little facts matter.

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Reflecting on Bitter Sufferings and Death

I’m pulling thoughts together on a pro-life presentation I’ll be giving next week and have settled on ‘suffering’ as my topic, as it is an underlying rationale to much that we call the ‘culture of death,’ but is not usually targeted directly.  By the time this little essay is done, you’ll see how ‘suffering’ and the ‘culture of death’ tend to go hand in hand, but to summarize:  when suffering is the greatest (nay, virtually the sole) unequivocal evil in one’s worldview, then one often concludes its better to die–or to kill–than to live.  This is why arguments for abortions, especially for fetal anomalies, often seem identical with arguments for euthanasia, assisted suicide, etc.

Ironically, Christians are accused of being indifferent to suffering.  It is ironic, because in any objective look at the matter, at Christianity’s core is God’s ultimate answer to suffering.  The reason why Christians are accused of being indifferent to suffering, especially in our day and age, is because they cannot go along with the secular tidal wave which views suffering as so serious a matter that it is frankly better to be dead than to suffer.  To put it differently:  suffering–yes, even the alleviating of suffering–is a very important part of Christianity, but it is not the greatest, or sole, or only evil in the universe.  There are things worse than death.  Life forever apart from God’s presence, commonly called ‘Hell’ for the supreme example.  But also trifles such as murder, even when done in the name of the ‘common good.’

The secular viewpoint on suffering is the one that permeates Western civilization, but it is worth first bringing out the example of Buddhism, which is another ‘religion’ that has ‘suffering’ at its heart.    It has its own solution to ‘suffering’ which must be attractive to people, as it has garnered its own millions of adherents.  In a nutshell, Buddhism’s answer to ‘suffering’ is that it isn’t actually real.  It is an illusion.  It is brought upon one’s self by one’s own search for pleasures and happiness.  Here is the logic: If one does not have expectations, one will not suffer when those expectations are not met.  If one does not love, one will not experience grief when the loved one dies.   But remember, importantly, the suffering itself is also an illusion.

Christianity regards suffering as very real.  In contrast to Buddhism, though, it insists that the pleasures and joys of life are also real.  The things that the ascetic gives ups for the sake of his ‘spiritual’ quest are things that God made for the very purpose that they are enjoyed by humans.  In fact, the idea that these material things are bad is considered a heresy within Christianity.  The name of that heresy?  Gnosticism.

In short, for the Christian, whatever pain and suffering accompanies us in this life, and no matter how wonderful we expect Life eternal to be, it does not change the fact that this life is worthy of living.

In saying that, I am not affirming hedonism.  But in not affirming hedonism, I am not affirming the Buddhist Samudaya, which would have us abstain or ignore or berate any ‘temporal’ affair.  What Christianity brings to the table is a balance of values and virtues, in the right proportion and perspective, so that we can at the same time acknowledge that ‘suffering’ is a serious matter, without letting it become a God to us that demands that we orient our entire lives (and the lives of others) towards alleviating it at the expense of all other values and virtues.  Values that demand their place include affirming the reality of the joy found in relationships.  Pleasures such as sex, beer, and song are affirmed as Good within Christianity–but in proper contexts and in the right proportions.  (A clue as to what those proportions are is whether or not a particular attitude or behavior tends to kill you or others. Does anyone recall the blog entry I wrote on that?)

Before I delve deeper on the Christian’s approach to suffering, let’s talk about the other extreme take on the matter which dominates the West.  This ‘extreme take’ is central to most of the non-Christian ideologies we encounter in the West, whether we’re talking about the secular humanists, the atheists, the nihilists, whatever.  (The main exception are the Muslims).  This view on suffering views it as really the only evil, so serious that even the tiniest amounts of ‘suffering’ justify moving the entire foundations of our life together in order to combat it.  The case in point du jour: microaggressions, ‘safe spaces,’ and ‘trigger warnings.’  Still not quite out of fashion are the ‘participation awards.’

The ‘participation’ awards are a good introduction to the mentality.  From refusing to keep score at kids’ soccer games, or giving out certificates of achievement for ‘graduating’ for first grade, etc, the underlying philosophy is this:  we don’t want the ‘losers’ to feel bad.  Do you want people to feel bad?  YOU INSENSITIVE, EVIL  MAN!  The underlying philosophy to that is that ‘suffering’ in any degree is a horror to be avoided, at virtually all costs.

The giving out of the same awards to both winners and losers is a fad of sorts that seems to me to be in the decline, but it has only been replaced by more toxic expressions, such as the examples du jour I mentioned above.  It is probably not a coincidence that the people most concerned with retreating to their ‘safe spaces’ are the ones who grew up receiving participation awards.  Most likely (this is probably self-delusion on my part), even these trends will eventually be recognized as extreme.  There is a solid chance, though, that these people will not abandon their perspective and will move from participation awards to safe spaces to taking over the reins of power and inflicting huge amounts of suffering on people in the name of, you guessed it, reducing suffering.  (The people made to suffer will be the people that those in power deem indifferent to suffering, and therefore of all people, deserving to suffer.)

To put it directly, moderns are positively drunk on suffering.  They wish to avoid it for themselves… at all costs.  They wish to alleviate it for others… at any price.  All issues are viewed through the prism of suffering as the greatest evil, both at the individual and corporate level.

The reason for this is basic:  Western civilization has jettisoned all moral codes and frameworks as arbitrary or unfounded, or worse, ‘religious.’  There is, literally, no objective basis for declaring that anything is right or wrong.   But nature abhors a vacuum, and as it happens, even atheists are made in the image of God, and they are despite their own ideologies, moral creatures.  What rushes in to fill the vacuum has varied over time but they all share this common thread that with no objective moral basis available, we are free to make our own.  And, being made in the image of God, humans tend to not enjoy suffering and do enjoy alleviating suffering.  The ‘alleviating of suffering’ percolates to the top and becomes the underlying rationale for all kinds of schemes.

One of the earliest expressions of this is still common today: utilitarianism.  Bentham and John Stuart Mill helped systematize this viewpoint, effectively boiling all ‘moral calculus’ to “the most good for the most people.”  (Which obviously implies justification, with complete clean consciences, the inflicting of pain or suffering on some people, if it gives most people the ‘most good.’

Bentham put it this way in 1823:

What else is it that should trace the insuperable line [between humans and animals]? Is it the faculty of reason or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog, is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day or a week or even a month, old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? [emphasis added]

A few decades later, Darwin would put his stamp on human history, creating distinct variations on this theme.  For example, ‘the most good for the most people’ obviously meant eliminating the ‘unfit’ as it harmed the species (either by using up finite resources best left for the ‘fittest’) or in future generations.  The eugenics movement embraced this scheme.  So did the Nazis, who before doing practically anything else passed its ‘Sterlization Law’ in 1933… the full title is revealing: Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring.   Think about it.  The Nazis had literally just taken power (also in 1933) and one of the first things they did was target ‘hereditarily diseased offspring.’  Heredity and the species (and the Volk’s) genetic heritage (a la Darwin) combined with the moral justification of reducing suffering (a la utilitarianism) was a driving consideration for the Nazis.

What?  Don’t you care about our genetic heritage?  Don’t you want to reduce suffering?  Aren’t you the evil one!

A little known fact is that before the Nazis tried to eliminate the Jews, they first murdered hundreds of thousands of disabled people (fellow Germans, included), believing they were acting completely ethically in the highest traditions of science, as shown to them by one prominent set of German scholars who were infused with both Darwinism and utilitarianism.

Today, of course, with the Holocaust in the rear view mirror, this particular strand of anti-suffering sentiment is widely rebuked.  Unfortunately, it remains the case that many arguments for euthanasia, abortion, assisted suicide, genetic justice, etc, all sound disturbingly similar to the arguments the Nazis entertained.  The reason for this is because the Nazis merely drew up on rationales that had been spelled out decades before they came in power and the basic moral situation then, say, in 1910, is roughly the same as how it is today, in 2017.  That is to say, there is no objective moral basis, but alleviating suffering seems like a no-brainer, so whatever else we decide about issues, the controlling question ought to be “does it reduce suffering or increase it?”

I have said much about these kinds of issues before and will say more in the future. One purpose I have in revisiting this is to point out that each generation and society will answer that question in its own ways, but since the core assumptions are wrong (ie, there really is an objective moral basis, and the alleviation of suffering while laudable, is not the only moral virtue), we can expect and predict that we will always see extreme applications resulting in unexpected, and more often than not, horrific outcomes.  (Horrific when seen in hindsight, that is.  In the moment, everyone will feel fully justified in their own eyes, as whatever they did was done with ‘good intentions’ for the ‘common good.’)

I do not want to be like C.S. Lewis, who did a great job tackling The Problem of Pain on an abstract level who then endured it and expressed it on a more visceral level in A Grief Observed.  I am not going to try to explain why God is not to blame for our sufferings, or try to reconcile how there can be a Good God in a world drenched in pain and suffering.  What I do want to do is point out that the Bible itself doesn’t do that, while at the very same time, it takes pain and suffering very, very seriously.  What the Bible does do is put pain and suffering in perspective and context.

Take for example the life of Job.  Not many people realize that the book of Job is in actuality probably the oldest book of the Bible, written even before the Moses penned Genesis, Exodus, etc.  Thus, while people are aware that the book of Job is an account of one man’s complaint to God about intense suffering and evil, they are not usually aware that this complaint is, chronologically speaking, primary in the entire Bible.  Now, that is taking suffering and evil seriously!

The answer that Job gets is perplexing, however.  When God comes to answer Job’s charges face to face, God offers no answer or justification or defense for pain and suffering.  God points out one obvious thing–“As the maker of the entire universe from scratch, He is well aware of what His creatures are going through.  Duh.”  But he rams home another important thing: ‘In all things, I am present.‘  Its similar to what happens when someone loses a loved one.  We go to the funeral knowing full well that not only can we not explain why the person died (or why God allowed it in this particular case) but that such an explanation would be an absolute insult, anyway.  What they long for is comfort, and explanations only go so far.  The best comfort we can offer is our presence.

Christianity proclaims that God did not remain above suffering, but entered into it.  He became a man, like us, in order that he can eat and drink, get diarrhea, watch loved ones die, and get tortured and murdered.  His answer to suffering was to suffer himself.

God himself did not offer a grand explanation for why He allows suffering.  His answer was to go beyond even what he offered to Job to participate in humanity’s tragic history with the promise that in doing so, he was setting things right, not in temporary fashion, but with everlasting finality.

As Peter put it in 1 Peter 4:

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of references to God’s approach to suffering described in the Bible, and the New Testament in particular.  No, God is not indifferent to suffering.  His very purpose for us is to end it, decisively.  However, for as terrible as suffering is, there are things worse.  For example, everlasting existence apart from the presence of God.  In light of that prospect, God has apparently decided He needs to allow both joy and suffering to co-exist for awhile, until He wraps up things in the manner He decides is best.  The Christian has the same attitude in regards to our own suffering, as Christians.  Now to Paul:

Romans 8:35-39

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)

In light of what God has done in Christ, the Christian puts his own suffering into a greater context, such that Paul can declare, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

But now what to make of the charge that for all this compassion, Christians themselves seem to lack it?

This is a gross misrepresentation, made starker by contrast.  To people for whom pleasure has become God and suffering, Satan, those who insist that both must be put into proper context and proportion will always seem callous, no matter what they do.  Setting aside the obvious fact that individual Christians have always failed to be genuinely compassionate (ie, even within context and proportion), in the main, it has always been Christians who were on the front line of addressing pain and suffering.  From the early Christians’ devotion to feeding the poor which made Julian the Apostate fume, to the monks acting on behalf of the destitute as the Roman Empire fall (Francis of Assisi:  “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”) to Mother Teresa doing the same in our own era–with the backing of a great apparatus of organized Christians who have given generously year over year over year to causes great and small (100 billion a year in America alone), to the fact that the actual word in English for our most important care facility–the hospital–was in fact derived from a Christian military order of the Middle Ages who–consider the irony in light of the accusation that Christians are militant and unconcerned about people–are not remembered for their military exploits at all, but for their humanitarian ones.  These were the Knights Hospitallers, if you didn’t know.

Speaking of hospitals.  Up until the 1980s, before the well-meaning and well-intentioned Federal law, EMTALA, passed in 1986, forced private, religious, non-profit hospitals effectively out of business, any trip into any town would make it plain just who exactly it was that was putting their money where their mouth was in regards to ‘compassion.’  The names of the hospitals gave it away:  St. Judes, Gundersen Lutheran, St. Lukes, St. Anthony’s, etc, etc.  (Stripped of their ability to operate as non-profits, organizations like Gundersen Lutheran in the Lacrosse area of WI are increasingly dropping their overtly religious rationales, and changing their names to reflect this fact.)

You will look in vain for St. Darwin hospital or St. Dawkins or St. Russell or St. Hume or St. Bentham or St. St. Mill.

I remember once encountering an atheist’s website where he sought to reverse the fact that for all their talk about easing suffering, the atheists were woefully uncharitable when it came to actually donating money, giving them a bad name compared to Christians, who actually were putting their money where their mouth was.  A year or so later I visited again and the website had closed up shop, complaining about the selfishness of his fellow atheists.  Irony, I know.  (In trying to dig up that website again, I found this humorous complaint by an atheist about all the hospitals with religious names.)

Of course, your average secular humanists thinks that he is a very compassionate fellow, typically not because he himself does a lick to help people, but because he supports taxing other people into oblivion, using other people’s money and resources in support of programs that he supports, which he (sincerely) believes alleviates suffering.   Much like today’s Twitter generation thinks they’ve contributed something important merely by issuing a hashtag, your everyday man on the street thinks he virtually saved the world, single-handedly, simply by pulling the lever for a Big Spending Politician.

This is not offered as a justification for the many failings of Christians over the centuries, but let’s keep it real.  Before ‘compassion’ was Federalized under FDR, no one could seriously argue that Christians were callous.  In fact, atheists like Margaret Sanger complained bitterly that the charity of Christians was actually perpetuating great evils!   (She has a whole chapter on the ‘Cruelty of Charity’ in her book, The Pivot of Civilization.)

The current accusations, then, are relatively recent, and boil down to the basic fact that Western civilization has decided that any truly compassionate measure ought to be taken up by the Government, and if you truly considered yourself compassionate, you’d back their efforts.  But Christians generally can’t go along with that scheme, because for as much as we care about people’s bodies, we also care about their souls.  Not surprisingly, the very same people who want us to pour money into secular ‘compassionate’ programs, also insist that we limit ourselves to secular rationales.  The only God they will let you talk about is the God of Government.

Which is no God at all.

And in a society that is hyper-sensitive to Suffering to the extent that it is common to see policies enacted and supported (and personal decisions made) on the basis that it is better that someone die rather than suffer, there is no way that Christians can accept that premise.  The message of Jesus is in direct contradiction to such an extreme and distorted view on Suffering (and conversely, hedonism).

For now it seems that Christians are going to be accused of lacking ’empathy’ until such time that the extreme once again yields its bitter fruit.  In the meantime, let us dispense with this nonsense that Christianity, Christians, or the Church do not, and has not, concerned itself with the poor and suffering.  All of history and the facts refute such talk.  What is really going on is that Christians approach such things on their own terms.  And since they believe they are proceeding based on the world as it really is, they will continue to do so.  When Rome collapses again, it will be the monks, again, supported by the great apparatus of their fellow believers, who step in to pick up the pieces.

 

 

 

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So you say you want to replace Obamacare…

No one listens to me.  I get that.  Still, I would like to go on record right now predicting continued dysfunction in America’s health system.  This dysfunction is generated by our collective refusal to come to grips with the real world.   Normally, I’d have to direct my comments towards liberals and progressives, but right now the matter is in the hands of Republicans.  They are in real danger of merely ‘re-configuring the machine,’ when what we really need is to have the machine dismantled.  ASAP.

We have to understand that nearly every kind of government activity is ‘socialist’ in some sense, and ‘socialism’ tends to haves several effects.  1., it never works as intended.  2., it takes perfectly normal brains and melts it into slop with every apparatus for critical thinking reduced to puss. 3., it generally needs deception and self-deception in order to persist.

I am not arguing here for anarchy.  I advocate for a ‘limited government,’ and one of the reasons is that a smaller government is in itself a check and balance on all three effects, above.  One of the chief lies (#3) is that with sufficient tinkering we can progressively iron out the bugs (per #1) an eventually all live happily ever after.  But when you know that such a prospect is 100% unattainable, one does not delude himself with false hopes about what a government could do, if only it were given X and Y, etc.

Let me begin with an illustration of how this insanity unfolds.

I read an article recently with this headline: SF reaches deal for free tuition at City College

This is what I mean about living in fantasy-land and how socialists ideologies tend to turn brains into slop.  People across the country will happily believe that its possible that some ‘progressive’ town is now offering ‘free’ tuition.  After all, the HEADLINE SAYS SO.  But there is no such thing as ‘free.’  The article itself says:

The money will come from a measure that San Francisco voters approved in November, Proposition W, enacting a transfer tax on properties selling for at least $5 million. [emphasis added]

So… not free.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  No one really thinks its free.  You’re wrong.  They really do.  I have a cherished memory where I argued with a guy about the ‘free’ schooling he was receiving about whether or not it was really ‘free.’  It took fifteen minutes before this ‘highly educated’ young man understood that just because he didn’t pay for his schooling, that didn’t mean that his teachers taught for free, or that the administrators administrated for free, or that the maintenance people maintained for free, or that the builders who built the new buildings did their building for free.  They all received compensation.  They wouldn’t actually do it if they weren’t paid!  Finally, he put two and two together.  (And when he did, he ‘moved the goal posts,’ saying it was ‘ok,’ because it was only the rich who were impacted negatively.)

It was a truly amazing exchange.

Don’t get me wrong.  If the people of San Francisco want to tax themselves into oblivion ‘for the common good’ more power to them.  Just don’t delude yourself into thinking the tuition was ‘free.’

But now behold the law of unintended consequences:

Now, in the real world, how much things are worth, how much people are paid, and so on, are worked out on a ‘market’ system.   A manufacturer would like to make such and such amount from his widget, but a consumer is only willing to pay this or that. A ‘negotiation’ takes place as each person jockeys–in their own best interest–for position.  Eventually, it works itself out so that everyone is fairly content.

For the last 40 years, governments at all levels have been doing what they can to make tuition more ‘affordable’ and ‘accessible.’  The result is that higher education, something that used to be within reach to any normal fellow who wanted to prioritize it, is now completely out of reach to anyone without massive amounts of loans (nationalized by Obama in 2010).   What was actually ‘affordable’ and ‘accessible’ when the ‘market’ worked things out cannot be afforded at all–unless, of course, one wishes to go hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, shackled to the whims of the Federal government, with little reason to think most American jobs can pay off that debt in under 20 years.

We have the same problem with our health care system, where people assume that ‘free’ is free, or that having health insurance means you actually have health care.

The doctors won’t work for free.  The nurses won’t work for free.  The makers of x-ray machines and other modern marvels don’t give away their products.  There is money involved.  It is coming from somewhere.  It always will.  This. Is. Reality.

Look at that chart again. Crazy, right?  Something weird is going on, right? Right?

I will certainly allow that there are a number of factors driving these distortions.  I would maintain, however, that the biggest correlation is that since 1978, the government has become increasingly involved in ‘helping’ people, through all manner of tricks and impositions.

The inflated cost of ‘Shelter’ is the result of the same thing, even if on a percentage basis it isn’t as pronounced.  Everyone was blaming Bush for the housing meltdown of 2008, but such things do not happen overnight.  What one can do in 8 years can compound a problem of that scale, but is unlikely to have been the main cause of it.

You’d have to look at decades of policy, all of which done in the name of helping ‘the little guy’ have the American dream of his own home, a picket fence, etc.  I would submit the most recent, actual cause of the meltdown began, not coincidentally (look at the chart again!), in 1977, when Carter passed the Community Reinvestment Act which:

is a United States federal law designed to encourage commercial banks and savings associations to help meet the needs of borrowers in all segments of their communities, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Congress passed the Act in 1977 to reduce discriminatory credit practices against low-income neighborhoods, a practice known as redlining.

Way to go, team!  Thanks to your desire to ‘meet the needs of borrowers in all segments of their communities’ and reduce ‘redlining’ you actually made it harder for the little guy to own his own home.  This and various other government attempts to ‘help’ people went well for a time–until reality smacked wishful thinking upside the head–and we had the housing bubble. Here is a headline for you (in 2015): Homeownership rate drops to 63.4%, lowest since 1967

When is it going to get through your thick head?

Listen.

If you really want to make healthcare affordable and accessible to all, you need to get the government the hell out of it.

The reason why the costs have gone up in healthcare over this time frame is the same reason why costs have gone up for all the other things listed and not, say, for your flat screen TV, or smart phone, laser vision surgery, and so on, is because the ‘negotiation’ between the producer and consumer is much more intimate and direct.  The reasons for why healthcare, housing, college tuition, have become skewed are complicated and strange, a malignant mass of good and bad intentions covered in pustules that pop into unintended consequences, all stemming one way or another from separating the producer from the consumer.

Which means that you need to get the insurance companies the hell out of it, too.

When the government and insurance companies are no longer managing the ‘care’ of millions of people, you will see prices drop dramatically.  What seems to be ‘out of reach’ today will be well within reach to anyone who prioritizes it.

This is fact.  This is reality.  This is the world how it really is.

So we turn now to our Republicans ‘tinkering’ with the system.  The core assumption remains untouched–that the government is the proper tool for dealing with this job.  It essentially is adopting the same premise of the Democrats.

Let me give you one final example.

My daughter has spina bifida.  She occasionally needs certain items in order to maintain her care.  We identified an item that she needed.  It cost a mere $80 on Amazon.  But we have insurance, so why wouldn’t we make use of something we pay for?  We submitted it to insurance.  Months and months later, the local medical supply company showed up at our door and had us sign for the item.   The invoiced amount for the item:  $500.

Based on our own assessment of our needs, we could have had the item from Amazon in just 2 days for $80.  Instead, we had to wait months for a bunch of bureaucrats and government nannies to determine if we ‘really’ needed the item, authorize payment, have it ordered and delivered, etc.

The socialist reader says, “Yes, but in the former case you had to pay $80… and what if you didn’t have $80! and in the second case you got it for FREE!”

Uh. Under current Federal law, we are required to have healthcare insurance–for which we pay thousands and thousands of dollars for, out of pocket.  Trust me, dude.  We did not get the item for FREE.

I know how socialists think (if we can really call it ‘thinking’) so I am well aware of all the hateful responses they are prepared to put in my comment section (provided they even find this post, of course).  The fact that costs for tuition, houses, and healthcare have doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc-rupled, during the time period governments have tried to ‘help’ us will be completely lost on them.  In fact, they will see these these increases as justification for even more government intervention.

But this post is not directed to the socialists.

It is directed to the Republicans.

It is directed to conservatives.

It is directed to people who really ought to know better, but still think that measures like allowing insurance companies to compete across state lines (but still letting them dictate who needs what, at what price, etc!) or constructs like health savings accounts will solve the problem.

A lot of conservatives might wonder at my problem with the health savings accounts, since “Doesn’t that give the patient the ability to more directly choose how he is going to spend his money?”

Not if the rest of the Big Government/Big Insurance apparatus remains intact.  I see little in the GOP talk that suggests it will be dismantled.

Let’s say they give us $2,000 untaxed HSAs.  Take the example of the medical item for $80 we needed for my daughter.  Would we be able to use the HSA to buy an item off of Amazon for $80, or will we have to work through an elaborate system, ultimately where that same item will cost $500?  If so, we just used 25% of our year’s HSA on a toiletry item!  How stupid would that be?  But you can predict that Republicans are still going to insist that people work through this system, out of various concerns that seem genuine on the face of it–eg, what is to prevent someone using their HSA to buy a flat screen TV on Amazon rather than a toiletry item?  Why, you need a process in place to prevent that sort of thing, don’t you?  One thing leads to another, and we are left right back where we left off with providers charging skewed amounts because the insurance companies and the government are all involved, so that the HSA doesn’t ultimately do jack squat in bringing down costs, or driving competition, etc.

A HSA only ‘works’ if the entire system is dismantled, putting the patients into direct ‘negotiation’ with doctors, hospitals, clinics, etc.

That’s not going to happen.

So, get ready for continued dysfunction.  Forever, probably.

But lets not delude ourselves in thinking this dysfunction is the result of ‘Republican’ principles.  No, this dysfunction will be the result of a refusal to jettison ‘Democrat’ principles.  The ‘conservative’ principles will not have been tried, and found wanting.  They won’t even be tried.

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Proposal: Every State Should Secede from the United States and…

There has been quite a bit of talk about secession in recent years, notably in Texas, and now, thanks to Trump’s victory, in California.  There are some qualitative differences between the two desires… Texans would like to be left alone by the other 250 million Americans, Californians would like to be able to impose themselves on the other 250 million Americans.  But lets leave that aside, for between the two, we’re talking about some 60,000,000 Americans, or 1/6 of the population of the whole country.  I’d say that when the countries two largest states both have secession on their minds, we may as well throw it out there:  maybe its time for every state of the union to secede.

Hear me out.

Both Californians and Texans alike have cited the vast differences in values and priorities between themselves and the rest of the country, not to mention the fact that the cultures are so unique that they may as well be different countries already.  That the Federal government is so odious to both (it alternates, evidently) is a good sign that the Federal government is odious to all.

Now the casual reader probably thinks that I’m with them in viewing secession as wrong, or bad.  Actually, I’m on the record being in favor of the right to secede, in principle.  I think whenever you have to make something compulsory, its probably because the argument in favor of it is highly controversial. The people arguing for compulsory [fill in the blank] believe their view is self-evidently correct to any good, decent person.  When it isn’t self-evident, it must be because the other person is an evil, wicked person.  As such, one is entirely justified in imposing their will upon them.

After all, who balks at compelling murderers to go to prison?  And if the murderer resists, you shoot them.  Let this thinking play out right to its bottom and one thing leads to another and you have yourself a full out Civil War.

The last 10 years or so have revealed that the fissures between viewpoints run so deeply that one can easily see how getting this U.S. state or another to toe the line may mean ‘boots on the ground’, ‘might makes right.’  The U.S. Civil War saw half a million dead.  The next one could see ten times that.

Well, I’m not inclined to think that the ‘union’ is worth the price of 5 million dead.

California’s recent surge in support of secession is due to their sudden realization that the rest of the country isn’t with them.  They appear to be unaware that much of America has taken the attitude of, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” I think this would be a bloodless secession if ever there was one, but if their arguments are good (and I don’t think they are all that bad), it surely follows that every other state may as well secede as well.

May I propose, therefore, that every state do that.  Each state can effectively become a country in its own right.  A sovereign state, if you will.

Naturally, the moment this happens, people will be concerned about how to get along again.  How will matters of trade between the states be handled, for example?  What about defense?

May I suggest that there is a ready solution to such things.  The several states ought to write up some kind of document which establishes a united federation which is entrusted to deal with issues that are properly best handled at that level.  This ‘federal’ government can be severely limited in its powers, so that the areas where ‘values and priorities’ that presently cause friction between the states are very few, and the scope of the federation’s influence in such matters is quite small.

In fact, I think they ought to include a clause which says, in so many words (I’m just spit balling, here), except for the powers enumerated for the federation, it can do nothing else–indeed, everything else not mentioned would automatically be reserved to the individual states for them to sort out themselves, according to their own values and principles.

I know what you’re thinking.  This would never work.

Well, there is a way for it to work, and its like this:  people would have to resist the urge to load up the federation with powers beyond what is enumerated in their organizing document, no matter scrumptious their pet cause is.  They will have to insist that the entity set up as the final arbiter of such disputes (call it… ‘the Final Court’, or FOTUS, or something), does not go beyond the language of that organizing document or take onto itself authorities that the organizing document itself doesn’t grant it.

You have to do this because if you don’t, eventually there will come a time when the individual states will realize that their values and priorities are starkly different than the values and priorities in other states, and they will resent the imposition.   Not without irony, it will probably be the states that were in the habit of foisting their perspectives on other states that will finally have the tables turned on them, and they will chafe at what has happened to them.

And at that time, they will once again start talking about seceding again.

And I will write another post suggesting that every state may as well secede, and then write up an organizing document with enumerate powers for a federation… which will only work if people come to grips that their views aren’t self-evident enough to impose on the other 300,000,000 citizens…

Ah, well.  Who am I kidding?

You’re right. It will never work.

 

 

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Did I Give Trump the Idea to put Citizen Bloggers in the White House Press Room?

Listening to the media spin more silliness a few months ago, I vented to then President-elect Donald Trump in a Tweet:

Since then, I saw this news article which included this bit:

Talk radio hosts and bloggers could be given greater access to official White House press briefings once the Trump administration takes office, under a highly irregular proposal being floated that may also remove briefings from the West Wing.

And this morning on Fox News, Newt Gingrich proposed that maybe they ought to allow private citizens to participate, maybe in a manner akin to town halls.

Shooting my idea over to the president a few months ago makes me wonder if I gave Trump this idea, but with all the tweets he receives, it seems unlikely he actually saw mine.  Maybe we’ll just chalk it up to ‘great minds think alike.’

Since a shake-up might be in the works on this score, and on extremely doubtful basis that Trump saw my first Tweet and would be interested in having me flesh out this idea further, I did some more thinking.

The freedom of the press is enshrined in the Constitution for a reason.  Let’s have another look at that language:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Now, to hear the modern media talk (and secularists and leftists in general), the reason the framers put the freedom of speech and the press in the Constitution is to serve as a check and balance on the government.  We’ve all heard the slogan, “speak truth to power.”  I don’t think they are wrong in this, but I would point out that if this is indeed the basis for the freedom of the press, it is also the basis for the freedom of religion.  Not only is freedom of religion in the first sentence of the first amendment to the constitution, but it is actually listed first in that sentence.  Nonetheless, liberals and leftists have cheered every restriction on religion and chafed at every inconvenience put on the press.

I would submit that the common thread to the entire first amendment, going beyond the idea of providing a ‘check and balance,’ is that the right and power to provide that ‘check and balance’ extends to each individual.  Except for the mention of the ‘press’ in this amendment, there is nothing in it to suggest it refers to any kind of group, community, or corporate entity.  (Bear that in mind when you’re reading the 2nd Amendment, too, my friend. CONTEXT MATTERS.)  In short, the right to serve as a ‘check and balance’ on government power is reserved to every citizen.  So, why should only a select group of individuals have the ability to question and challenge the most powerful people in the land?  Why not every citizen?

I don’t think it is difficult to understand that when a ‘select group’ becomes the prime interrogators of the powerful, this ‘select group’ themselves obtain a power that is limited to them and restricted from the rest of us.  This power is apt to be abused.  If there is anything that I have learned over the last twenty years, it is that the media itself needs a ‘check and balance.’  I am not talking about depriving them of their special status, carved right into the Constitution.  I’m talking about raising everyone else back up to that same special status–carved just as deeply in the Constitution, and in the same sentence!

It is clear to me that the ‘press’ has lost its way.  It cannot be trusted.  They complain about ‘fake news’ even as they dispense it.  Their priorities are not my priorities.  The questions they ask are not the things I want to know more about, but since only they get to ask the questions, they set the agenda.  Their power must be checked, and opening up the government to average citizens as opposed to only allowing ideologues masquerading as ‘objective journalists’ is a good start.

In this mass media environment, flooded with content from virtually every corner, some of it deliberately fake, with other material unsubstantiated (at that point) rumor, it is hard to know what to believe about anything.  However, it is hard to believe the republic can survive if people do not have reliable information that they can trust.  If they do not have actual facts to base their views on, this will inevitably lead to more power being centralized in the hands of the people who do have those facts, putting us at their mercy.  If the election of Donald Trump means anything, it means that millions and millions of people do not wish to be at anyone‘s mercy.  Not the government’s.  And not the media’s.

In principle, I firmly believe giving ordinary citizens direct access to the Trump administration and every Federal bureaucracy in order to interrogate it themselves is the way to go.  ASAP.  Yet, there seem to me to be several pragmatic problems, which I’d like to deal briefly with.

First of all, there is the question of bias.  You can hear the liberals now:  “But the people asking the questions will be biased!”  HYPOCRITES.   The people asking the questions are already biased.  One of the reasons they are a pox on our democracy is because they pretend they have no bias.  If they were honest about their prejudices, we might be able to analyze what they are saying more fairly.  But they are not honest.  So, bringing in private citizens doesn’t change anything on this score.  This problem needs to be addressed, but as it is a real problem in either scenario, it cannot be used for or against either.

Second of all, there is the question of the selection of citizens.  Obviously, you cannot have 100,000,000 shouting questions at a White House briefing.  Even in a perfect universe, this could not happen.  But any narrowing process is going to be vulnerable to the accusation that the process was weighted somehow, which leads to the same toxic doubt we have about the ‘press’ genuinely discharging its duty to serve as a ‘check and balance.’  The only conceivable way to avoid this is to do a lottery.  Citizens interested in asking questions of the government submit their names into a pile, from which, say, 30 names are randomly drawn.   But even this process will be open to the charge that it is ‘rigged.’  Still, I think its the only way.

The number of names can be expanded by allowing people to choose to ‘interrogate’ any Federal agency, and not just the White House.  For example, a person submitting their name for the drawing could list their top 3 choices:  The White House, the Department of Defense, and the Treasury.  Only once the list is filled at each agency do they stop drawing names.   There are probably some agencies out there that some people would prefer to question even over quizzing the DoD, and if they are one of the only 5 people to list them as one of their choices, the drawing would continue until their names were drawn and they were matched to the empty slot in that agency.

Done this way, I would bet you could involve several thousand ordinary citizens in the process of holding our government accountable.  Given the unruly and massive scope of the Federal government right now, maybe it would be tens of thousands.  Maybe some of the agencies that presently operate with hardly any citizen oversight at all will suddenly have a handful of citizens providing the scrutiny needed to keep them honest.

Would the organization charged with administering this process be private or public?  Many of my liberal counterparts believe that if it is public, its going to be fair and honest.  I lean the other way:  if its public, its more likely to be gamed by insiders who know how to milk the system.  Its easier to hold private organizations accountable because if people don’t like their product, you can simply stop buying it.  But we are all forced to continue paying for the ‘public’ system, whether we like it or not, and it takes years and several elections to make progress–if progress is ever made at all.  But, due to how intricately tied this process is to the actual purpose of being involved in some way with the Federal government, it may be that the only way to do it is to organize it through the Federal government.

This is like the fox guarding the hen house.

I don’t really know which would be the best way to go.  I do think, however, that maximum transparency will go a long way to easing concerns.  On the ‘lottery’ proposal, it should not be hard to provide this.  Every citizen’s name and submission, including their preferences, and the available slots at every agency is public record.  It is just a simple drawing after that and an algorithm that matches people in order of preferences with available slots.  Surely it must be possible to find a way to appease us that the drawing itself was random.

There is a third item, which raises even more substantive practical problems.

One of the things that the ‘media’ has that private citizens do not have is access to funds and the wherewithal to really dig into things, research them, and analyze them.  One of the reasons the big news corporations became big and prominent is simply because they had the ability to commit resources to paying journalists, lawyers, investigators, and cameramen to do the job they did.  They had the ability to set up radio and television stations.  They had the ability to pay people to make it their full time job to go find out what was necessary to daily harass our government.

The internet and the ever increasing technical expertise of private citizens has eased some of this, but there is still no substitute for the fact that anyone who is selected is probably not going to have the resources to do the job the way it needs to be done.  This is in part a criticism of the Federal government itself:  if it is so big it cannot be monitored by average citizens, it is too big.

Nonetheless, it seems to me that the people selected are not likely to have the time and resources, almost by definition.  So, if we think this is important, we’re going to have to find a way to ensure that if their names are drawn, they are also given the time and resources.  This is fraught with new problems.  If the government itself gives the stipend, we’re right back at the problem of the fox guarding the hen house.  Here, though, if the citizens were sponsored by fellow citizens, we know darn well that corporations are going to want to ‘sponsor’ their share of folks, and it may be that the citizens are as beholden to their sponsors as Rachel Maddow is to her employer.

Here again, against all my instincts, the only way we might be able to do this is to manage it through the Federal government itself, with the citizen’s salary compensated through tax dollars.  It may be a small price to pay in order to bring the media (and the government itself) to heel, however.

I know what I’m asking.

We’re talking about needing to pay folks thousands of dollars over a three to four month period in order that they are able to execute their task effectively.  (I think they should get a minimum of three months per term, and perhaps four.  Over the course of a presidency, this would be 12 to 16 new sets of citizen-interrogators brought into the mix, itself a check and balance on abuse.)  They’re going to need to be able to eat and sleep and have the spare cash to carry out investigations.  Plus, their jobs back home will need to be protected for the short time they are away.  (Assuming, of course, they choose to go to the White House full time if they are selected… I know I would!)

The general principle is this:  the citizens have as much right to interrogate the government as the press, and the press has shown itself desperately in need of having its own ‘check and balance.’  I would much rather have that ‘check and balance’ provided by the citizens than the government, for obvious reasons.  I have sketched out one way in which I think this could be accomplished.  Perhaps some other great minds can come up with their own ideas, which may be better.

 

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Why I love the Commercialization of Christmas

Every year about this time there are complaints about the commercialization of Christmas.  I think even my hero, C.S. Lewis had some cynical things to say about it.  No doubt, it is ironic and even scandalous that the ‘reason for the season’ is often only a pretext for people and businesses to make a load of money.  And they do make a lot of money.  And certain elements don’t mesh well with the ‘religious’ overtones of the holiday (etymology: ‘holy day‘), to be sure.  Even within Christendom, there is the sense that we are to take a meditative, contemplative, introspective, ‘spiritual’ approach to the whole affair, looking with disdain on the ‘worldly’ celebration… of…. well… what, exactly, is the ‘world’ celebrating?  Celebrating for the sake of celebrating?  The horror.

Try to see it from a wider perspective.

Every year for more than a century, whether one is a Christian or not, all attention is focused on the heart of the Christian account of reality:  God became Man in order to save All Mankind.   For almost two months out of every year, all of Western Civilization orients itself around one of the core proclamations of Christianity.   We get to see the doctrine of the incarnation spilled out extravagantly over entire cultures, and it is lapped up with joy nearly every place it goes–if it is permitted, of course.  More on that, in a moment.

It is typical to hear the devout complain about the commercializing of the celebration, but the complaints themselves often contain a kernel of heresy that orthodox Christianity has been bedeviled with for more than a thousand years.  That heresy is gnosticism.  The complaints suggest that there is merit to the idea that matter is bad and the creation is flawed. Our physical bodies, being material, are intrinsically bad, by virtue of being material.  Only the ‘spiritual’ is good, and the ‘spiritual’ can be tapped into by putting oneself in the right mood.

The spiritual mood can be manufactured through a devotional disdaining of ‘worldly’ things, usually through the same ‘worldly’ techniques that are decried.  For example, where one might turn up their nose at a Christmas carol, they might repeat the chorus of a ‘praise’ song 30 times, or look down on both in preference to hymns.  What many call ‘worship’ is often only a ‘devotional mood’ which is seen as superior to whatever else happens outside of the ‘church’ service, such as the potluck or fellowship hour.

But Christianity insists that matter is not bad and the creation is not flawed, rather, creation is broken.  Our bodies, corrupted.  Our spirits, dead–until brought back to life by God himself.  For a little while, the ‘old heart’ wars against the ‘new heart,’ but when Christ returns again, it is not to take us to heaven as ghostly wisps, but rather to give us entirely new, physical bodies, which are no longer at war with our spirits.  We will not live with God in heaven.  God will live with us on Earth.

And oh, what a Life it will be!  It will not be devoid of ‘earthly’ things, it will be packed full of them.  There will be food, fellowship, and song.  It will be the Feast that every other feast we knew to that point was a mere foretaste.

That a feast stretching six weeks or more has come to be bound up with the Good News that God’s rescue mission is well underway is a good thing, in my opinion.

But I don’t think its an accident, either.  The commercialization that we lament is actually the ‘free market’ realizing that the Christian account of the universe plays.  Everybody loves a party!  And this makes perfect sense in a world created by God, for his pleasure and ours.  It doesn’t make any sense in the Islamicist version of reality.  It is incoherent to the Buddhists.  It is an embarrassment to the atheists, who in their sterile, strictly materialistic conception of the world have literally nothing to put up against the sheer joy that tantalizes young and old alike every December.

From the materialist’s stand point, their Darwinian account of being ‘human’ would reduce our lives to sole purpose of surviving long enough to reproduce–meat machines with delusions of grandeur.  Except for a brief period of human history where ‘survival of the fittest’ and ‘nature, red in tooth and claw’ and ‘nasty, brutish, and short’ were acted on as ‘scientific certainties,’ humanity has found such a perspective to be laughably out of line with actual human experience.  Actual human experience revels in the glorious idea that there is more to this world than the ‘stuff’ of it.  For those who are quite sure that this world is all there is and believe it possible to progressively perfect it, the belief that there are realities that transcend the material is a direct threat to their program.  Atheistic regimes of the 20th century understood this well and moved to actively repress such beliefs… and still do, when and if they can get away with it.

But atheists enjoy a good Christmas jingle as much as anyone else.  Even the fascist ‘tolerance’ patrols who insist on saying “Happy Holidays” gravitate towards celebrating Christmas and not, say Ramadan or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa.  Indeed, if you take a good hard look at culture in general, its clear there is a great thirst for the ‘other-worldly.’  For our entertainment we go to movies that feature superheroes with super powers.  There are television shows about the paranormal.  There are books about Big Foot.  Writers attempt to make such things plausible by reference to purely naturalistic explanations such as the multiverse or wormholes but that is far less interesting than the fact that sentient bags of copulating puss and bone have even the remotest interest in such impractical and fabulous story lines.  I, for one, have yet to spot my cat or dog take any interest in any of the Avenger movies.

But it is precisely this ‘thirst’ that Christmas calls attention to, every year, for weeks at a time.  Everything stops for a time, as if God himself grabs the attention of Mankind and says, “Look!”

Is it the full Gospel message?  No, of course not.  But it is good soil for the full Gospel message.  The fact that this part of the story has been commercialized is testimony to its power to surface the intuitive knowledge that just as there is more to the world than we can see, there is more to us than can be crammed into a test tube.  If someone grabs that thread and pulls, they may find themselves thrown headlong into the recognition that here is a story that is grounded in real history.  No one who watches Marvel’s Agents of Shield comes to believe it corresponds to actual reality.  They do not change their life and completely orient themselves to the Marvel universe.   Yet every year, hundreds of thousands of people come to the conviction that Christianity is actually true.  And they do completely re-orient their lives.  Perhaps there is a reason why people accept Christianity but not Marvelanity?

Some say that Christmas cannot be celebrated because it incorporates pagan elements.  Atheists scoff for the same reason.  My attitude is like Paul’s in the book of Philippians:

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

Christmas is the yearly pricking of the Thorn of God in the side of a disbelieving and rebellious world.  Are there pagan elements?  That only illustrates what I’ve been saying: people love a party; they love the feast; they desperately hope that the Numinous is real.  True yesterday, and true today.  What is the best explanation?  I submit that the reason why Christmas is such a central holiday is because deep down most people know that the best explanation is to be found lying in a manger, two thousand years ago.

In that account, God did not dispense with matter, or reject the creation.  He re-affirmed his original design and redeemed creation.  He turned water into wine for a wedding.  He told made it plain that nothing God has made is ‘unclean,’ per se.  The things we enjoy in this world, in the main, we were made to enjoy.  And at Christmas, we enjoy some of those things in a profound way.  These are not the things we should turn our nose up at.  Instead, being innocent as doves and as wise as serpents, see the holiday as an opportunity to have conversations in a society that is increasingly hostile to such conversations, and also perceive in it insight into the nature of the Great Feast to come.

So long as people are making money from the holiday “out of selfish ambition” there is a way to proclaim Christ, in all his glory, and all the glory to come.  What’s not to like about that?

Provided, of course, we seize the opportunity.

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The Coming Nightmare of the Trump Presidency

This is one of the least pleasant pieces I have ever sat down to write.  I am forcing myself to do it.   I feel the warning must be issued, although my sense is that those who would heed it, need it least.

Many people are encouraged by the election of Donald J. Trump.  To them, the 2016 election was America’s last chance to settle things according to the ‘rule of law.’  I also was heartened, but I am less hopeful that good times are ahead.

When Obama first passed Obamacare and began implementing his vision for America’s future, these folks were outraged.  They were outraged, but they worked within the system.  They organized.  They delivered a repudiation of Obama’s agenda in three consecutive elections–2010, 2012, and 2014.  The repudiation was virtually complete:  not only was almost every Federal branch of power put into the hands of the opposition, but a vast majority of the governorships, the assemblies, the senates, the judiciaries, and even city councils, went into those hands, too.

But the Republicans did not act as though they had such a position of strength, and the people became disheartened.  Then came Obergefell, which disenfranchised millions and millions of voters, including voters in ‘blue’ states.  The GOP acquiesced without a whimper.  But I think a less appreciated but more significant blow was John Robert’s asinine ruling in favor of Obamacare, wherein he offered a reading that fifth graders could recognize as utterly strained and contrived.  Do the words mean nothing?

Meanwhile, liberals and progressives applauded.  In their minds, the ‘rule of law’ was upheld simply by virtue of the fact that these issues worked their way through the system.

Conservatives had worked through the system in a bid to exercise self-government, and on point after point, issue after issue, they had ended up with the losing end of the stick.  Moreover, being on the ‘losing end of the stick’ effectively meant being called bigots, racists, sexists, and all manner of vile things, with many wondering if anyone they had put into position of power would defend them, stick up for them, act on their principles, etc.

Enter the 2016 election campaign.

That the conservative ‘base’ had lost all faith in the GOP’s willingness to stand and fight is demonstrated vividly as ‘establishment’ candidate after ‘establishment’ candidate were forced out of the race.  In the end, it was only Cruz and Trump, which further illustrates the electorate’s judgement upon the GOPE.  But Cruz had his own establishment ties, and frankly, even he seemed less brave than Donald Trump.

As a sheer act of self-preservation, millions of Americans put their back into throwing the world’s greatest Hail Mary that has ever been seen.  It is perhaps the greatest that will ever be seen.

Miraculously, Trump prevailed.  All the forces and factors that had fueled the massive discontent in the heartland were not able to suppress the ‘force of nature’ that was Trump.   But when we say ‘Trump,’ at the same time, we must see that he is a stand in for the many millions who saw in him one last chance for self-government within the parameters of the rule of law.

Very few people that I interacted with believed that the Republic would survive 4-8 years of Hillary Clinton.

Although I preferred Cruz, and voted for him in the Wisconsin primary, I cast my vote for Trump without reservation.

But not with much hope for the future.

Many appear to be surprised by the vitriolic response to Trump’s election by the ‘left.’  But not me.  Before the election (Nov. 2), on my Facebook page, I wrote:

I keep hearing all this talk about how liberals are concerned that Trump supporters will turn violent if Trump doesn’t win. Oh my, its completely the other way around! If Trump wins, the left is going to turn up its vitriol to levels that will shock a great many. But if it shocks YOU, you should ponder how it is that you didn’t see that coming. You may be missing something important, and it would behoove you to figure it out, fast.

I don’t doubt that there are elements on the ‘right’ that have no qualms with turning to violence. But I think Trump’s support is misunderstood. A lot of these folks are the Tea Party people–and the Tea Party folk were largely ambivalent about politics before Obama politicized nearly everything. They were demonized left and right and of course characterized as being violent, but in fact their defining characteristic was that they still believed it was good and proper to work through the system.

Which they did, with great success, in 2010, 2012, and 2014, delivering huge majorities for the anti-Obama party in every area save the presidency in 2012.

Trump would not be the candidate at all if the GOP had backed their play. That Trump is the candidate reflects two things simultaneously: 1., their belief that the GOP has betrayed them and 2., they still believe it is good and proper to work through the system.

In a demonstrably free and fair election, if Hillary prevails […], they will absolutely act according to their belief represented in #2.

But it is completely the opposite for the political left… which is precisely one of the big problems.

shooting-fascistsSo, here we are.  There have indeed been riots.  The media has gone bonkers.  The progressives have doubled-down on their assertion that the ‘right wing’ are a bunch of racist, fascist pigs.  I have seen countless threats of physical violence made.  My favorite is represented in the meme to the right, which I think sums up the lot of them perfectly.

Or, to put it like one of my Facebook ‘friends’ put it:  “I only hate those who hate”, thereby giving herself complete license to wish for and advocate for actions that far exceed what even the worst KKK member might contemplate doing.

Unlike the great mass of those who put the Republicans in power in four consecutive elections, the first instincts of the liberal progressives will not be to work through the system to obtain the results they desire.

No.

They are already gathering kindling, because they mean to burn the system down.

Now, it may be hard to understand how this all works.  It is not all obvious or intuitive.  But it can be pieced together and has been pieced together by many others.  It goes a little like this.

Your average liberal progressive is a fine fellow who abhors violence, personally.  But he recognizes that there are circumstances where violence is necessary.  He would never shoot a man down, but he recognizes that some men will need to be shot down (*ahem*, men like LaVoy Finicum. Read the comments).  While fully conceding that the State has its flaws and warts, he endorses the liberal platitude that “Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.”

Can you see it?  There are many things that they would never do, because they are kindly, tolerant folk, but they know need to be done… and for those things, we have the government.

But how does the government know what the people ‘choose’?  Well, that’s actually one of the fundamental divides between the American people.  Many of us believe that you ‘choose’ those things by electing people who reflect your values with the expectation that they will earnestly act on those principles.  Ironically, the GOP has seemed perpetually timid when it comes to acting on their principles, while the Democrats aren’t.  But, critically, Democrats tend to think that opinion polls and surveys are enough to justify their actions.

This is far more important than I have time to address in this post.  But a good illustration is the previously mentioned Obergefell decision.  Despite near complete repudiation of gay marriage throughout the 50 states, liberals felt they were within their rights to overturn numerous state laws and referendums for the simple reason that people’s attitudes had changed in favor of gay marriage since those laws and referendums were passed.  No need to pass new laws reversing the previous ones!

Democrats love this approach because they know how to manipulate public opinion, and, like Edward Bernays, believe that such manipulations are thoroughly democratic in nature.   Of course, in their minds, they are the only ones who are allowed to manipulate public opinion, hence their continued horror with Citizens United.  But they see an important difference:  when they manipulate public opinion, it is through the public channels, and therefore thoroughly ‘evidence based’ and free from bias, backed by the authority of the expert du jour.  But if others do it, it is ‘special interests’ at work.

This is not a trifling point.

You see, liberal progressives have now been deprived of this huge infrastructure.  Under Trump (#NotMyPresident), the government is no longer the name we give to the things we choose to do together.  They do not have the House, or the Senate, or the White House.  Soon, they will not have the Supreme Court, their ultimate bludgeon.

But this will not change who they are and what they believe about the rest of America.  And what they believe about the rest of America is that it has drawn right up to the door of Nazism itself.  There are exceptions, obviously, but this is the prevailing sentiment.

Deprived of the institutional apparatus that they had seen put to great use under Obama and which they eagerly looked for Hillary to expand and extend (and which a vast number of Trump supporters perceived as an existential threat), they will…

Well, I’m not entirely sure what they will do, I’m only sure about what they are inclined to do.  But what I do know is that every option will be on the table.  The more aggressive Trump is in implementing his agenda, the more aggressive they will be in their push back.  And no, they won’t be looking for 2018 to be the liberal equivalent of 2010, in large part because they will discover that this is not a viable path forward for them (eg, all the things they despise will be welcomed in ‘fly over’ country).

The Secret Service, I reckon, is going to be quite busy.

But this isn’t the worst news.

In fact, for liberals, this next part is very good news.

The truth is that the liberal progressives have in fact nearly won the day.  It might be said that Obama pressed the advantage a decade too soon.

As I explained in my post prior to the election, the existence of people with attitudes like Annaliese Nielsen beg an explanation.  They come from somewhere.  Clearly, they exist in large numbers.  How are they made?

Now, this is a question that has preoccupied the left for many years, especially in their bid to figure out why people are opposed to gay marriage or why people are (allegedly) racists, and then devise a way to defuse such attitudes.  Their answer is both hilarious and terrifying, but the point is that they are fixated on thinking about the formation of opinions, because they know that people’s attitudes and beliefs come from somewhere.

These same people are shocked at the excesses of the ‘social justice warriors’ but cannot bring themselves to consider the possibility that they created the SJWs.   But they are not too troubled, because they know that that they can ‘tweak’ the behavior modification programs and perhaps perfect the result.  Or, at least, they ought not be too troubled, because the left still has full control over the mechanism by which this social engineering has been taking place.

I am speaking of the education system.  The elementary schools, the middle schools, the high schools, and the college and universities are all fully in the hands of the liberals.  Despite the fact that it is clear as day that the publicly funded school system is using tax dollars to deliberately undermine the beliefs and values of millions of the tax payers, there is little sign that the Republicans will meddle in such affairs.  It is too risky.  They will certainly be crucified in the press, and, if the liberal response in Wisconsin to Walker’s “Act 10” is any clue (and it most certainly is!), there will again be thousands in the street, some of them quite menacing, chanting “This is what democracy looks like!”

Of course, that’s not what democracy looks like.  That’s a mobocracy.  A democracy handles their problems through elections and the rule of law, and this is even more the case in a republic such as the United States.

But this will mean nothing to them, and their ranks will continue to swell as each new graduating class moves from the petri dish of high school to the formal inoculation center of the university, where students will be drenched in Marxist doctrine, whether it is a Shakespeare class or (more likely), “Guerrilla Altruism: A Mini-Manual of Subversive Activism.”  Because that will help the student get a job and support his family!

Actually, it didn’t help at all, right?  Which is why there was a need for government assistance.  But now if there is no government assistance, this person’s poor course selection will result in him getting hungry.  And he won’t blame himself.  He’ll blame Trump and the Republicans.

And he will lash out.

And they will lash out.

Yet, if they wait another 10-15 years, barring any unpredictable intrusions by the ‘real world’ (eg, a 9-11), they need not worry.  They will have the country.

But, if you know your man, you know he doesn’t have the patience and foresight for that sort of thing.  He has willingly submitted himself to his conditioning.  In his mind, if one is ‘triggered,’ anything he does after that is justified, and the one to blame is, always, the one doing the ‘triggering.’

Which is why, I am afraid to say, the coming years could very well be some of the most chaotic, violent years that America has seen yet (at a domestic level).  And it will all originate from the ‘left.’  (I can see retaliation or over-compensation from the ‘right’, but that’s why I used the word ‘originate.’).

I will offer one caveat of hope.

If Trump survives long enough to implement some of his agenda (only possible, I think, if the GOP decides its safe to show its backbone), and the world doesn’t end, and more importantly, things actually get better, reality may finally break in even for the SJW.  There are reasons to think this could happen (eg, the media has been defanged by Wikileaks, etc).

But I wouldn’t count on this.  Even if the country becomes demonstrably and undeniably better, the left will not see this as a good thing, because it means more time in the wilderness for them.  Even the irrefutable successes will be fought tooth and nail.  You watch.

So what should our response be?  I honestly don’t know.  I’ve thought about it, and I just don’t have it.  When I have some concrete ideas, I’ll share them.  In the meantime, the ball is in Trump’s court and hopefully the GOP will take seriously the threat that the education system, as it currently sits, poses to the Republic.

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“After the Ball” Reflections: Actually, homosexuality IS a Choice?!?!?!?

I’ve been spending a fair bit of time acquiring and analyzing books that advocate for manipulating people.  Not, as you might be thinking, so I can manipulate people, but because I find manipulation to be disgusting, vile behavior.  It is prima facie evidence of that the manipulator is a bad actor.  Bad actors should be opposed.  This puts me in opposition to people like Bernays, who believes that manipulation is necessary in a democracy.  Or Alinsky, who reveled in it.  And plenty of others, I am afraid to say.

In modern times, the manipulator (eg., ‘change agent’) is applauded and paid handsomely for applying their skills (eg, Gruber, Cass Sunstein, etc), but I hate them.  And I hate being manipulated.  To resist being manipulated, I need to understand how it is they aim to manipulate me (and everyone else).  So, in that spirit, I picked up Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen’s After the Ball:  How American Will Conquer its Fear & hatred of Gays in the 90’s.

It is an amusing read, to say the least.  They refute their own arguments constantly throughout the book, and sometimes in the same paragraph.  While the broad strokes of their argument can be discerned, the rest is an incoherent mishmash.

On the other hand, it seems like Kirk and Madsen didn’t consider the possibility that a ‘straight’ might read their book.   I love this kind of stuff.  You get to hear what they really think because they are talking to only their own people.  Thus, they will admit and acknowledge things to each other that they will deny bitterly to the end if presented by an opponent.

There is amazing irony in this book.  It begins with a vitriolic and enraged denunciation of those opposed to homosexuality, marking off one criticism after another with derision, contempt, and snark.  Reminds me of a book length version of one of Dan Savage’s screeds.   But I would be willing to bet that anyone who took the time to do so, could find elsewhere in the book explicit statements supporting the critic’s claims.  The last 100 pages represent a denunciation of gay behavior… the very same behaviors denounced by the critics.

So, basically, after reading this book, you will discover that pretty much all the reasons you oppose homosexuality are, in fact, legitimate and valid.

The irony is piled upon irony by their first item in the list of “How Gays Misbehave.”  That item:  Lies, Lies, All Lies!  Evidently, deception and self-deception are a big problem in the gay community.  Don’t get angry with me!  This is Kirk and Madsen’s argument!

But that creates an epistemological problem, does it not?  If the gay community is prone to deception and self-deception, and Kirk and Madsen are part of that very community, how do we not know that they are themselves telling lies?  A conundrum!  This problem appears most dramatically in their attack on the “Big Lie.”  They are insistent that there are far more gays in America than typically believed.  (pgs 13-18).  The number they give range from 10% to 21% of the population (the latter from that other deceiver, Kinsey), which of course amounts to millions and millions of people.

Why is it necessary to have such a big number?  Well, for all their talk about ‘homo hatred’ it turns out that actually, the number one problem (again, according to them!) is that generally speaking, straights don’t actually… wait for it… CARE what consenting adults do.  So, on the one hand, we’re supposed to buy this sob story about how horrible the gay community has it (the book is written in the 90s) when in fact their biggest complaint is that, by and large, to the question of “What Straights Think of Gays” they answer, “They Don’t.”

Well, that’s gotta suck, right?

And it gets worse:  that 10% is itself a fabrication.  It is, at most, 2% (gay and lesbian).

Well, gee.  You can’t possibly justify radically overhauling an entire society’s value systems on the basis of what a scant 2% of the population do, can you?

Well, I don’t know if Kirk and Madsen knew it was a fabrication, but they ought to have, since it isn’t exactly a new discovery that the gay advocates of the 1970s pushed the 10% number for political reasons–the same number that they pushed.  But they do seem to be pretty well read (I was impressed to see Augustine mentioned, and even C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton), so my bet is that they did know that their 10% number was way off.  And they didn’t care.  See above about the epistemological problem relating to the fact that apparently gays are known to lie!

One of the clearest examples of this deliberate deception is on page 184, where they make it abundantly clear that they do not believe people are born gay.   Note, in the same paragraph, they contradict themselves.  No matter, despite understanding the limitations of the claim, for purposes of manipulation, they will recommend that their propaganda insists that gays have no choice in their homosexuality:

Principle 5:  Portray Gays as Victims, Not as Aggressive Challengers

[throughout the book, they criticize gays for being too aggressive in their advocacy!]

In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be portrayed as victims in need of protection so that straights will be inclined by reflect to adopt the role of protector.  […]

[…]

In practical terms, this means that cocky mustachioed leathermen, drag queens, and bull dykes would not appear in gay commercial and other public presentations. […]

Now, two different messages about the Gay Victim are worth communicating.  First, the public should be persuaded that gays are victims of circumstance, that they no more chose their sexual orientation than they did, say, their height, skin color, talents, or limitations. (We argue that, for all practical purposes, gays should be considered to have been born gay-even though sexual orientation, for most humans, seems to be the product of a complex interaction between innate predispositions and environmental factors during childhood and early adolescence.)  to suggest in public that homosexuality might be chosen is to open the can of worms labeled ‘moral choice and sin’ and give the religious Intransigents a stick to beat us with.  Straights must be taught that it is as natural for some persons to be homosexual as it is for others to be heterosexual:  wickedness and seduction have nothing to do with it.  And since no choice is involved, gayness can be no more blameworthy than straightness.  In fact, it is simply a matter of the odds–one in ten–as to who turns out gay, and who straight.  Each heterosexual must be led to realize that he might easily have been born homosexual himself.  [italics his, bold mine.]

By ‘straights [being] taught’ they basically mean behavioral modification and conditioning (ie, they are Pavlov, and you are the dog), on the premise that people are just animals that are the product of evolution who are ‘homohaters’ because they were born that way; but, through propaganda, these can be neutralized.  (Chapter 2, The Roots of Homophobia, eg. pg 120-126)

That’s another contradiction, if you didn’t notice.

If someone is born gay, it cannot be a choice.  And since no choice is involved, gayness can be no more blameworthy than straightness.  But people are born bigots–it is not a choice.  And since no choice is involved, bigotry can be no more blameworthy than ‘tolerance’.

Like I said, the book is a series of one incoherent contradiction after another.  The only reason it should be taken seriously is because its pretty clear it was taken seriously, and we live today with the consequences of their deception and self-deception, and the results of their–effective–manipulation.

******

I could probably write a book detailing all the things that fascinated me about this book.  There are three little things that made me chuckle in particular.

1. Rage.  On this blog I have talked several times about how the propagandists try to generate change by generating rage.  They love this idea:

And where, for that matter, is the steam [for generating change] supposed to come from?  Your patriotism and sense of fair play?  Your homophile zeal?  Benevolent love of your gay brothers and sisters?  Agape?

No, few are motivated over the long haul by zeal or saintliness.  Yet sufficient motivation is found in Chapter 1, and all around you:  the sustaining emotional steam that comes not from Love but from Rage.

[…] Well, love is an excellent end in itself, but it isn’t half so compelling as a means.  Over history, love has severed no colonies from their mother countries, nor overthrown any czars, nor obliterated any Nazis, nor produced any civil rights movements.  You may discount what the pious tell you, because it is actually rage, not love, that lay behind all those progressive events.

Like all emotions, rage has its purposes, and its time and place.  When a situation becomes intolerable, an oppression unbearable, when millions do not even dare to cry out beneath the hell of injustice, rage is the appropriate response.  Fury galvanizes.  [italics his, bold mine.  381-382]

Why yes, lets be outraged by the fact that the vast majority of Americans don’t, and did not, care all that much what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms by a scant 2-4% of the population!  Remember, that most of America doesn’t think about gays at all is, in their mind, part of the problem.

But the real problem is that they don’t merely want to be left alone to do what they want.  They want everyone else to express approval.  And they will use totalitarian methods to obtain it.  While denouncing totalitarian methods.  It’s all very confusing.

This is eerily reminiscent of a debate I’m having elsewhere on this blog.  At one point, they say that they don’t want to be judged by their sexual behaviors and taken merely as humans. You know, like MLKjr who dreamed a dream where people didn’t judge people by their skin color.  But I now have fresh evidence that even if they had that, they would not be satiated [see comment section].  That’s because they DEMAND that the rest of us bless their sexual behaviors.  OR ELSE.  (closing pages of the book.)

2.  Bizarrely, they constantly condemn groups like NAMBLA for giving gays a bad name, but after finally sorting out all the reasons that the gay community is dysfunctional (far beyond anything that yours truly could pen!), they conclude that the best ‘family model’ going forward is the ancient Greek one, where adults had… you guessed it… boys as lovers.  Of course, they try to soften it up a bit by pushing the age of the pursued boy to a more mature age of 16, and doing their best to gussy up the pedophilia of the ‘old days’ as pretty good, really, since it was done within socially prescribed parameters.  Kind of reminds me of dear old Caligula, who trained little boys to nibble at his private parts as he swam.  All within the norms of society at the time, so no big deal, right?  After many pages of this (361-372), in the very last paragraph, we get the caveat:

To a dirty mind, nothing is clean.  We go on record, here and now, as stating explicitly that we do not advocate adults having sex with minors under any circumstances whatever.  What we do advocate is adults forming the sexual relationships which they must and should form anyway within a reciprocal framework of age differences that will maximize not sex per se, but all that is good and fine and honorable and decent in human relations, setting a standard higher, and with a much stronger and more logical rationale, than that of the much-praised nuclear family itself. [Italics, them.]

So, did you follow that?  They deplore outfits like NAMBLA (which would like to lower the age of consent) but advocate for older men and younger men “forming [] sexual relationships” but, don’t you worry!  They do not advocate adults having sex with minors!  No word about their opinion on just what age someone ought to be considered a ‘minor’ for purposes of their proposal, but they do speak warmly ancient Greek men taking on lovers of, say, the age of 16 (on page 367).  You know, hypothetically speaking.

See up for their concerns about the gay community having a problem with deception and self-deception.

3.  Speaking of the nuclear family.

This chapter about boy/man love began with a quote:

The family unit–spawning ground of lies, betrayals, mediocrity, hypocrisy and violence will be abolished.  The family unit, which only dampens imagination and curbs free will, must be eliminated.  — Michael Swift, “For the Homoerotic Order,” in Gay Community News.

I recognized this quote, and have referenced it on this very blog, calling attention to the transparent attempt to deflect criticism of the gay agenda in America.  You know, stuff that Kirk and Madsen would say that straights fabricate, but then go on later to call gays out for actually doing.  Anyway, if you want the full context of Swift’s quote, I did reproduce it in that blog entry.

Since propagandists for the gay rights have recently dismissed Swift’s “Homosexual Manifesto” as satire, I was interested to see what these two gay authors thought.  Did they also think it was satire?  It would appear that they take it quite seriously, as something seriously offered.  And they aren’t happy that Swift wrote it, because it undermined their cause.  But there is no hint that they thought it was mere satire.  Coming just 3 years after ‘Swift’ published his article, I thought it would be good to include Kirk and Madsen’s characterization of the article (pg 361):

The above, cited in the Boston Herald (February 25, 1988) by Visigothic columnist Don Feder in an article entitled “AIDS, gay politics and the family,” is a bottled-in-bond example of the gay extremist rap on the evils of The Family.  Luridly overstated as it is, it’s fairly representative of the line taken by the gay media radicals–angry people, perhaps damaged by emotionally sick families and blinded to the family’s good side, who feel compelled to turn their fear and loathing into the sort of social philosophy of absolute individuality.  Unfortunately, they play right into the hands of homohaters–always hungry for ammunition–and allow the entire community to be advertised as emotionally ill.  Feder, taking as his text both Swift’s rabid froth and a set of ill-considered remarks by Boston City Councillor David Scondras, whips up a whole three-ring circus of denunciations of those disgusting homosexuals, who live only for themselves and admit that they’re trying to destroy the American family.  Intones Feder, “Heterosexuals who prattle about gay rights should wake up and smell the wine fermenting for the orgy!”

Must gay pundits really reinforce such idiotic misconceptions? [Italics them, bold, mine]

Ah, yes.  I do love me some ammunition.

Might, perhaps, another ‘idiotic misconception’ be that those who oppose homosexuality are ‘homohaters’?

Might it be possible that, in point of fact, those like myself who oppose homosexuality, do so for reasons that are not only derived from the Bible, but for all the reasons that Kirk and Madsen themselves decry?  And might it be possible that the reason why Kirk and Madsen find such things deplorable is because it is a fact, not an opinion, that there is a God as Christians understand him, and this God did actually make people just as the Bible describes?  And this being so, flaunting that design can be expected to result in unsatisfactory consequences?

That there are unsatisfactory consequences, I will henceforth eschew the Bible, and simply quote Kirk and Madsen, chapter and verse!

 

 

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Interview With “Critical Thinking Is Required” Blog

I was pleased to be interviewed for a blog entitled “Critical Thinking is Required.”

One may listen to the interview, here.

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Putting Hysterics Into Proportion: The Alleged Threat of the Rise of White Racism

shooting-fascists

I have many other things I’d rather be writing about, but the ‘left-wing’ hysterics about so called white nationalists on the rise thanks to Trump is something that I feel is necessary to talk about.  Necessary, because if these hysterics are not shown definitively to be discredited, there is no doubt in my mind that there will be violence–from the left.  This violence will increase in scale and scope quite a long ways before your average liberal says, “Ah, well, that was a tad too far, even for me.”  In the meantime, the idea is that “racists” deserve no quarter, and so no quarter will be given.  I have helpfully included a meme to the right that is like so many others that I’ve seen that I think captures the mentality perfectly.

The term ‘left’ is unfortunate, but necessary. I am trying to transition towards descriptions that are more accurate.  Namely, the divide is between people who have views that correlate with reality, and those that don’t.  (You can have people on the ‘right’ with unreal views, too.  My concern is only for that which is real.)  It is just not the reality that the vast majority of Americans who voted for Trump are ‘bigots.’

So, lets start with today’s trending media smear, the ‘excerpted’ video of the annual conference of the National Policy Institute.   Let’s bear in mind that this video is heavily excerpted.  Don’t we recall all the counter arguments to the Veritas folks making exactly this charge?  Ought we not be skeptical of such ‘heavily edited’ videos?  Moreover, isn’t it obvious now that the media itself can’t be trusted?   Why should we believe anything that Daniel Lombroso and Yoni Appelbaum of The Atlantic say?  I know I don’t.  For all we know, Spencer began his speech with the statement, “And now let us present the caricature that the media has of us… feel free to play along…”

And I saw several things in that video that seemed to war against the narrative that their article was trying to make.  Their own article says, “For most of the day, a parade of speakers discussed their ideology in relatively anodyne terms, putting a presentable face on their agenda.” Why would they deviate now?  According to the article, because ‘most journalists’ had left.

First of all, are we really to believe that “most journalists” left after dinner?  That in itself seems hard to believe.  More importantly, would Spencer have known that the journalists left?  Would Spencer have not noticed, in such a small gathering, the presence of the Atlantic writers?  That is also hard to believe.  Second of all, from what context we are given, many of Spencer’s incendiary remarks were directed at the media.  And frankly, the media deserves every arrow that it takes at this point.  But, unless someone is paying close attention, because of how the video is portrayed, the casual listener would think these incendiary remarks were directed at blacks.  (This is why you shouldn’t trust the media.)

Finally, at the end of the video, there is a truly strange spectacle of a guy running over and patting a guy on the back for doing the ‘hail’ gesture.  [2:56]  The impression I got from this scene is that the first person considers all their arm raising to be new, somehow, and wants to encourage others doing something that… wait for it… they had never done before.  As in, this is an extremely rare and singular event.  Maybe my impression is not correct.  Maybe these are more members of the Democrat hit machine trying to manipulate the scene, such as what Veritas uncovered.  It is not out of the realm of possibility.

But maybe the video genuinely portrays what it is said to portray.  Let’s suppose, for a moment, that it was.

According to the Atlantic’s own article, there were about 200 attendees at this event.  TWO HUNDRED.  Many of them…. the media.  I took the liberty of looking at the NPI’s blog to see if they had a response, and I found this article linked to a Southern Poverty Law Center (another organization with suspect integrity) write up which says that there were only 120 people present at the 2015 event.  NPI protested that “the actual tally was 172.”

So, I suppose that we could say that the Trump election gave NPI a massive boost of support… almost a 15% increase in their numbers!  Oh, the calamity!  Yes, that’s right… they sky-rocketed from about 175 to… TWO HUNDRED.  (Again, many of these, the media itself.)

As of this writing, Trump has received about 61,900,000 votes.

Let’s play a game.

Is 200 bigger or smaller than 62 million?  Someone help me work it out with Common Core math, because this one is just tooooooo hard.   Maybe if we line it up…

 

61,900,000
200

I might be an unedumated whit Chrestian mail, but my distinct impression is that 200 is not just a smaller number, but a much, much, much, much smaller number.  My trusty calculator says that 200 is .0000032 of the 62 million that cast their vote for Trump.

And for some reason, this video is what is trending on my Facebook news feed?  This video is what greeted me on Matt Laur’s show this morning?  WHY DO WE GIVE A RAT’S ASS WHAT A SCANT TWO HUNDRED PEOPLE BELIEVE?  Is THIS supposed to drive NATIONAL POLICY and/or SENTIMENT?  ARE YOU INSANE?  …….. GROW UP.

62,000,000…. big.  200…. little.  62,000,000 BIG.  200…. little.

BIG

little

Challenging concepts, apparently. Maybe if I get a PhD I’ll be able to work it out on my own.

I have argued frequently over the years that one of the clearest signs that a person has lost all ability to reason and employ logic is their inability to keep things in proportion.  In my recent post on real vs. unreality, I mentioned it again.

This Richard Spencer video is one of the best examples that I’ve seen in a long time.

But wait!  There is more!

After the election, a friend sent me a note expressing real concern.  Basically:  “The KKK is marching again!”  There was a link to an article like this one.

Now, the first thing of interest here was the belief that the Trump election signals some kind of new confidence among the KKK to march.  I knew that this was not true.  But why did this person think that?  The media, that’s why.  In point of fact, a simple Google search shows that the KKK has been marching for a loooooong time.  I went to Google and randomly chose a year.  Search term:  KKK Rally 1998.  I got this result.  Pick a year, any year, and you will see that the KKK has never been afraid to march.  They have never gone away.

So, we see in this example one more case where the media has painted a false picture.  By not making much of KKK activity prior to the election and choosing to report on KKK activity after the election, a clear impression was given.  A false one.

And how many people are in the KKK, anyway?

SPLC says: 

“Today, the Center estimates that there are between 5,000 and 8,000 Klan members, split among dozens of different – and often warring – organizations that use the Klan name.”

Heck, lets call it 20,000 members.  And let’s say that all 20,000 of them voted for Trump.  Once again, we’re dealing with numbers, and it is soooooo hard to work with large numbers, it makes our tiny brains work overtime.  When billions flummox us, that must be why when the national debt is climbing past 20 trillion, some 63,500,000 people think that’s ‘no big deal.’  “More status quo, please!”

So, getting out my trust calculator again… it turns out that 20,000 isn’t that much larger than 200 was, on a percentage basis:  .00032

.00032 of the electorate are die hard white supremacists.  What with my tiny brain and all, that seems pretty small, pretty inconsequential.  Maybe I can get me one of dem der expeerts to ecksplain it to me.  I’m sure The Atlantic is chock full of folks who could do it for me.

Mind you, there is no reason to believe that this .00032 votes uniformly Republican.  Although I suspect that they probably did vote for Trump in larger numbers than normal, historically they have had a great affinity for the Democrats.  Which makes sense, of course, when you realize that the KKK has, historically speaking, been populated primarily by Democrats.  It was founded by Democrats, after all.  (Praise God for primary sources!)

BUT WAIT!  THERE IS EVEN MORE!

The presence of even 20,200 genuine white supremacists in our midst is less than ideal, but the amount of harm that they can do as private citizens is radically limited, especially if their fellow Americans are firm believers in the second amendment.  A far more worrisome trend is the number of white supremacists who are in political office.  Remember, friends, David Duke endorsed Trump!  And that means if YOU voted for Trump, too, YOU ARE A RACIST, TOO! [see :30-45]

So, it just so happens that David Duke ran for election this year in the ‘deep south,’ that bastion of bigotry.   Consider how horrible we must feel as a nation that as of now, a US Senator from Louisiana is a former leader in the KKK.  We’ve sunk so low as a nation!  Sooooooooooooooo loooooooooooooooooow.

Waitasec.  He didn’t win.   He didn’t win?!?!?!?  But with all this talk about David Duke endorsing Trump as if that meant something, I can only assume that he did exceedingly well in his election?  Funny, the media told me all about Trump’s tenuous relationship with Duke (ie, its non-existent) but failed to mention that Duke not only did not win the election, but he was seventh in the list, pulling just 3% of the votes.  SEVENTH.

If we add his 58,581 votes to the 20,200 above… *fetching trusty calculator* … that’s 78,781 nasty people (assuming of course that all of them are actually white supremacists and that they all voted for Trump).  That is .0012727 share of Trump’s nearly 62 million votes.

Woe is me!  The sky is falling!  Dear Jesus (pardon the racist intonation), save us all!

Just how many white supremacists have political office in the United States?

As near as I can tell, that number is 0.  As in ZERO, Jim.

(That calculation is based on the assumption that the extremely biased SPLC would gleefully report every example that existed… if it could point to even one.  Readers are free to point me to examples, if they like, and I’ll increase the tally as necessary.)

So, basically, not only is it the case that the number of Trump-supporting racists extremely low, where they did stand for election, they were repudiated by… ironically…. Trump-supporting racists.  In Duke’s case, 1,074,895 (the sum of every vote cast for a Republican in Louisiana above Duke) effectively told him to go to hell.  Presumably, this 1,074,895  also voted for Trump in very large numbers, and yet they did not vote for Duke.  ‘Inexplicably,’ the media didn’t think to mention that.

And the same situation exists throughout the entire country.

One can understand, then, when the unrealists try to paint all of the ‘alt right’ as racists, and howl with outrage that someone like Steve Bannon is going to be as prominent as he is in Trump’s election, many of us just don’t take them seriously.  Their perspectives are totally skewed.  They have been utterly discredited.  It is highly unlikely that Bannon is actually a ‘white supremacist.’  The ‘alt right’, insofar as it has any substantial support of ‘whites’ seems, as near as I can tell, to be only the flip side of the same kind of beliefs and rhetoric we see among gays, blacks, and women.  That is to say, these groups already engage heavily in ‘identity politics’ but no one for that reason thinks that THEY are racist bigots.  I, and many of my peers utterly reject ‘identity politics’ completely, and aren’t particularly happy to see it emerge within the ‘right.’  But that’s only because we don’t want to see the Republicans pick up the same attitudes and methods that are already welcomed and advanced in the Democrat Party.

So, if the vast majority of us on the ‘right’ (in this case, those aligned with reality), do not take this hysteria seriously on the merits, why am I writing this at all?

Simple self-defense.

There is no question in my mind that if the ‘left’ continues to paint 62,000,000 Americans as racists bigots, and try to malign the ‘alt right’ through false accusations, two things are going to occur.  In the first place, by refusing yet again to acknowledge the legitimate concerns raised by Trump voters (eg, failing to recognize the difference between immigration and illegal immigration), you’re going to actually get even MORE people that gravitate towards the ‘alt right’ perspective, and yes, the NPI will probably sky rocket from 200 attendees at their convention to 225 in 2017.

So bully for you, you nits.  You’re creating the very phenomena you say you are opposed to.  Bravo!  Well done, Oh Ye Smartest People Ever To Have Existed!

In the second place, people on the ‘left’ are, literally, going to start shooting.  As in, real guns.  At real people.

Because their grandfathers didn’t support fascists.  They shot them.

Mark my words.

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Review: Richard Weikart’s “The Death of Humanity and the Case for Life”

In a recent post, I argued that one of the tell-tale signs of whether or not a viewpoint does not correspond with reality is whether or not it results in death; one’s own death, or the death of another, or many others.  Supposedly, humans these days are smarter than any humans that have ever existed.  We are so smart!  So smart, and yet the 20th century was one of the bloodiest on record.

I, for one, fully expect to the 21st century to be as bad or worse than the 20th century.  Dr. Richard Weikart, in his book, The Death of Humanity and the case for life, does not say that. In fact, he says the opposite, and the book cover seems to acknowledge both grave cause for concerns and hope.  Still, it is hard to be optimistic after reading it.  (Granted, I have not been optimistic for a long time!)

The basic problem is this:  most of the ideologies that led to the horrors of the 20th century are still very much with us.   And since proponents of those ideologies tend to have no clue that the last time someone acted on their very own viewpoints thousands died, they march merrily along.  What could go wrong?

Weikart’s book centers on the basic theme that these various ideologies all have the net effect of dehumanizing humans.  When one dehumanizes humans, its not hard to see where things are going to go.  In contrast to many moderns who have no idea where there own ideology goes, Weikart documents how the first adherents usually had a pretty good clue.

Each chapter takes on one way in which, over the last 2-3 centuries or so, humans have embraced attitudes and ideologies that lead to death.

Chapter 1: Man the Machine

The idea that humans are ‘just’ ‘meat machines’ is one that I come across quite a bit in my own conversations with people.  In arguments about abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, etc, it often turns out that people’s support for such things turns on the low regard people have for people.  Weikart cites a proponent of the ‘man the machine’ viewpoint, Lawrence Krauss:

“We’re just a bit of pollution.  If you got rid of us, and all the stars and all the galaxies and all the planets and all the aliens and everybody, then the universe would largely be the same.  We’re completely irrelevant.”

On such a view, its hard to see why anyone would get bent out of shape by the prospect of snuffing out one’s own life–or the life of every human on the planet.

Chapter 2: Created from Animals

Chapter 2 treats the Darwinian angle, which many people see as providing the scientific basis for regarding people as, in essence, scum.  There are thousands of examples linking the acceptance of Darwinism to the acceptance of some kind of death-bringing action, attitude or behavior, if one were inclined to study the matter impartially.  Weikart helpfully reproduces some, such as this quote by Peter Singer:

“All we are doing is catching up with Darwin.  He showed in the nineteenth century that we are simply animals.  Humans had imagined we were a separate part of Creation, that there was some magical line between Us and Them.  Darwin’s theory undermined the foundations of that entire Western way of thinking about the place of our species in the universe.” [pg 57]

No wonder, then, that Singer has advocated for euthanasia, assisted suicide, infanticide, and defended the morality of having sex with animals.

In my opinion, the acceptance of Darwinism is one of the main reasons why some of the other ideologies are as virulent as they are.  Darwinism (in their opinion) moves matters from the realm of mere opinion to rock hard, scientific fact.  And one of those rock hard, scientific facts is “its view of death as the engine of progress.” (pg 54, 82-87)

In other words, certain ideologies would tend towards death on their own, but not necessarily by intention.  Darwinism holds that death is a good thing, in itself.  After all, thanks to Darwinism, we are all here!  All of life on the planet was produced by the death of the weak in order that the rest is better ‘adapted.’  Death, on this view, is not bad.  It is to be gloried in.  What can go wrong?

The next four chapters detail four different ideological strands that have, historically, devolved into death and self-destruction.  As I said, a lot of these ideologies had their own problems, but as many of these viewpoints were spiked with Darwinian Science, they were made even more deadly than they were on their own.

Chapter 3:  My Genes Made Me Do It: Biological Determinism

Excerpt:

This deterministic view that strips humans of all moral (and criminal) responsibility continues to gain ground among secular intellectuals.  In 2006, Richard Dawkins lampooned the “unscientific” idea of free will by recounting a spoof by Basil Fawlty, a comical British television character who got frustrated when his car would not start.  Instead of being rational and investigating the cause of the problem, Fawlty sternly warned the car.  Naturally, it did not heed his warning, so he promptly began beating it with a stick.  We laugh [because we know the car only obeys the laws of physics].  However, Dawkins, since he is a materialist, then asks–seriously, it seems–why we treat humans differently from cars!  (Maybe because we are not machines?) He asks, “Why do we not react in the same way to a defective man: a murderer, say, or a rapist?  Why don’t we laugh at a judge who punishes a criminal, just as heartily as we laugh at Basil Fawlty? … Isn’t the murderer or the rapist just a machine with a defective component?  Or a defective upbringing?  Defective education?  Defective genes?”  Dawkins also ought to ask:  Why don’t we laugh at materialist philosophers who take credit for authoring books and making scientific discoveries (when the laws of physics did not allow them to do otherwise)?  What would Dawkins think if his foes–those who consider his ideas mistaken–pronounce that Dawkins is “a machine with a defective component”? (pg 94-95)

Actually, in point of fact, I have indeed suggested that Dawkins is ‘mentally defective’, on precisely these grounds.

It really ought to surprise no one that Dawkins is also on record stating that eugenics is not really all that bad.   But it will surprise some people, because they refuse to “show their work.”

Chapter 4:  My Upbringing Made Me Do It: Environmental Determinism

Weikart treats the fascinating Leopold and Loeb incident, where Clarence Darrow drew upon ‘science’ to save the two men from the death penalty.  Darrow says:

“Science has been at work, humanity has been at work, scholarship has been at work, and intelligent people now know that every human being is the product of the endless heredity back of him and the infinite environment around him.”

Observe, if you will, the presence of Darwinism as a factor even in ‘environmental determinism.’

Weikart correctly notes:

Some secularists recognize the dehumanizing character of biological determinism, especially in light of its unsavory associations with racism and sexism, not to mention Nazism.  They mistakenly suppose that environmental determinism is more friendlier and more humane, so they take sides with nurture in the nature-nurture debate.  As victims of Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot can attest, however, belief in environmental determinism is no guarantee of kinder treatment and is no more immune to atrocities than belief in biological determinism.

Immediately following the above quote, Weikart goes on to clarify a point that I am also happy to make:

Of course, just as biological determinism does not lead inevitably to the Holocaust, neither does environmental determinism always lead to communist atrocities.

This is a fair point that we are obligated by the facts to admit plainly and directly.  The problem is that nonetheless, the 20th century is packed with horrific outcomes.  It requires explanation, and caveats aside, we can’t, and shouldn’t, shy away from what the perpetrators tended to have in common.  What is the common denominator?  Determinism?  Or the secularism that brought it?  The rejection of Christianity that led to the secularism?  The bloodletting of the 20th century indicates that these are not trivial questions, especially if we are keen to not repeat the last hundred years in the next hundred years.

Chapter 5:  The Love of Pleasure

What I liked about this chapter is the fact that Weikart recognizes that there other ways for people to turn towards ‘death’ apart from the oldies like Communism, Nazism, etc.  In this chapter, we have a nice treatment of hedonism and various related ideologies, and of course the utilitarian concepts that factor into most of them in one way or another.  But even these often end up in pain and death, even by those who have accepted that the only moral truth is “thou shalt not suffer.”  Irony!

This is my example, not Weikart’s:  our nation has fully embraced the pleasure principle, especially as it pertains to sexual behaviors–that are intrinsically dangerous.  We know they are intrinsically dangerous… for example, by the 20,000,000 new cases of STDs every year, in America alone.  Apart from cases like AIDS, these tend not to be fatal, but there are sexual behaviors that do lead to fatalities… which we call abortions.

Like I said.  If you push an unreal attitude far enough, it will often reveal itself as not corresponding to reality by virtue of the fact that someone died along the way.

Chapter Six:  Superman’s Contempt for Humanity:  Existentialism and Postmodernism

This chapter did the most to add to my own base of knowledge, as this wasn’t an area that I’ve studied as much.  I’ve tried to read Nietzsche, but find it tedious reading to the extreme.  Same with all the other existentialists.   I know I’m supposed to find their stuff exhilarating and liberating, but instead I find it dull.

I am glad that Weikart included this angle, as it reveals just how diverse humanity’s love for death-inducing dehumanizing is, and how such strange, seemingly unrelated ideologies can marry and beget atrocities:

Thus, in Heidegger’s view, humans are radically free to make their own decisions–including the decision to follow the German Fuhrer.  In 1933 Heidegger told the students at his university:  “Let not propositions and ‘ideas’ be the rules of your Being [Sein].  The Fuhrer alone is the present and future German reality and its law.  Learn to know ever more deeply:  from now on every single thing demands decision, and every action responsibility.  Heil Hitler!” [pg 196, emphasis in original]

Chapter 7: A Matter of Life and Death.

This chapter deals more directly with some of the elements that many people tend to think of first when considering the toxic side effects of secularism, namely abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide.  Joseph Fletcher is treated, and of course Peter Singer resurfaces.  Not to fear!  Singer isn’t a professor of bioethics churning out hundreds of disciples each year, or anything!  Oh, wait.

Chapter 8: The Future of Humanity: Utopias, Dystopias, and Transhumanism

This is another inclusion that helpfully shows how various diverse ideologies nonetheless have Death in common.

Malthus makes an appearance in this chapter, along with those who wrestled with such matters, like William Godwin, who Weikart quotes:

Neither do I regard a new-born child with any superstitious reverence. If the alternative were complete, I had rather such a child perish in the first hour of its existence, than that a man should spend seventy years of life in a state of misery and vice.  I know that the globe of earth affords room for only a certain number of human beings to be trained to any degree of perfection; and I had rather witness the existence of a thousand such beings, than a million of millions of creatures, burdensome to themselves, and contemptible to each other. [pg 257]

Gee, what could go wrong with that line of thought?

Conclusion

The book closes with some chapters that essentially make the case that ideas have consequences, and one of the chief consequences of the ideas of the last two centuries is death and more death, and death piled upon death.

One of my reactions to Weikart’s book, which I doubt he intended, was how it confirmed for me once again how ridiculously absurd and asinine to adopt the high view of experts that liberals and progressives would have us take, merely because they are experts.  His book is a tour through all the supposedly great thinkers, philosophers, scholars and academics over the last couple of centuries.  When one sees, page by page, how most of these ‘Brights’ were complicit in various degrees with murderous outcomes, one is tempted to suspect that perhaps the smartest among us are actually idiots.  Why would we defer to them, exactly?

But they aren’t idiots.  It would be better if they were.  It is their intelligence that makes them dangerous.  Blind deference to experts is a bad, bad, BAD idea.  Don’t do it.

I’m sure that Weikart would agree:  check out his sources, quotes, etc, too.  Don’t just take his word for these things.

One complaint that I have with the book is that it promised to be a “case for life.” The ‘case for life” turns out to consist of the last few pages of book that was nearly 300 pages long.  I agree with Weikart’s assertion:

Other religions besides Christianity might be able to make sense of our valuing of human life, too.  I recognize that there are other options besides secularism and Christianity.  However, I am convinced that there are sound philosophical, historical, scientific, emotional, and spiritual reasons to prefer monotheism and specifically Christianity to other religions.  Our intuition that human life has value, purpose, and meaning is just one of many reasons I find Christianity superior to a wide variety of secular worldviews.  Thus I consider Christianity the proper antidote for the death of humanity.  Jesus told his disciples, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” [pg 287]

Yes, but to make a ‘case’ means delving into the ” sound philosophical, historical, scientific, emotional, and spiritual reasons to prefer monotheism and specifically Christianity to other religions.”  It wouldn’t surprise me if the publisher insisted on that subtitle, because Weikart himself acknowledges the limitations of the book (pg 20).  The ‘case for life’ is made by contrast, which is valuable in its own right, but for it to be in the title I think might raise expectations about the book, and therefore risk disappointments.

If I had published the book, I would have went simply with The Death of Humanity.

I would also recommend this book in conjunction with some others.   This one is a (much) more in depth treatment of Wesley Smith’s Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America.  If you’re just starting, I would go with Smith’s book, first.  But I wouldn’t by any means stop there.  I would definitely follow up with Weikart’s book, and then from there move on to the books I have listed for ‘further reading’ on my eugenics website.

Which will soon be updated to include Weikart’s well-written, well-researched, well-presented, The Death of Humanity.

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The National Popular Vote is Meaningless

I’m amazed–but not really–at the continued fixation on the disparity between the popular vote and the electoral count.  Not really, because I have spent the better part of the last decade studying the ‘left.’  The Democrats thrive on mob movements, so losing the election while winning the mob is perceived by them (accurately, perhaps) as a stake through the heart of their guiding principles.  They can be expected to harp on the disparity between the popular vote and the electoral count, tossing it like so much red meat to their base, while they unleash an unrelenting attack on Trump that will make Bush Derangement Syndrome look like no more than a nervous tic by comparison.  Watch for it.

Now, before I go further, let me say that I am sympathetic to the idea of getting rid of the electoral college.  I could get behind a national popular vote, provided that there were certain checks and balances.  For example, the power of the office of the presidency would have to be radically scaled back.  If a majority did elect someone nasty, it would be nice to know that there were limits to the damage that person could do.  (One wonders when the ‘left’ is going to see the value in such an idea!)  Or, the repeal of the 17th amendment, to give states back their ability to exert their influence more directly on the Federal government.

People on the ‘left’ are almost certainly not going to want to enact certain measures as part of an effort to dissolve the electoral college for the same reasons that they want to get rid of the electoral college in the first place, so, at least for now, I am thankful for the modest ‘check and balance’ provided by the electoral college.

All that said, with the system being the way it is at present, the national popular vote is meaningless.  It is a mere curiosity.  Whether that is good or bad is not my concern for this essay.  (I would lean towards ‘bad.’)

All these articles and comments saying that Hillary ‘won’ the popular vote are ridiculous and thoroughly misleading.

The problem is that the national popular vote does not give us a true measurement of what it is said to measure.  As with many other aspects of the real world, the measurement tool itself affects the results.

Much hay is being made over the fact that the voters in states like California and New York, where the largest margins for Hillary were run up, had their will ‘swamped’ by the voters in the rest of the country.  Well, I’m sure that the millions of Republicans in California know a thing or two about having their votes ‘swamped’, having watched every one of their state’s electoral votes go to Democrats over and over.  After all, California does not have a proportional system for allotting their electoral votes.

So, what happens when a Republican voter in California considers his plan for election day?  He knows that his vote is not going to mean anything, outnumbered, as he is, by countless Dems. Perhaps he figures he can ‘vote his conscience’ and throw in with Stein or Johnson. Perhaps he decides not to vote at all.

If, suddenly, his vote did matter on a national scale, perhaps he decides to put his vote for Trump.  Heck, maybe a California voter who voted for Hillary now re-considers.  In any case, the fact that it is not a national popular vote and is instead a ‘winner take all’ electoral allotment, affects the decisions that people make.

The same kind of considerations apply in every state.  In a state where there is no question that Trump is going to win, perhaps a GOP voter again decides to ‘vote his conscience,’ knowing he does not put anything at risk.  But if it were a national popular vote, he suddenly decides the stakes are too high, and he throws in his lot with Trump.  Or, a GOP voter who wasn’t going to vote at all, knowing his vote won’t change the outcome in a popular vote scenario, now decides to cast a vote.

And of course, these same kinds of factors are in mind for Democrat voters, too.

If the election were decided by a national popular vote rather than the electoral process, this would radically change the actual numbers because it would radically change voting behaviors.  It is entirely conceivable that in such a system, Trump would have still won.  (He has boasted that he would have, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was correct.)

Again, it is not my purpose to say whether or not this situation is good or bad.  It is my purpose to point out that the national popular vote is a meaningless measurement tool in our current system, and as such provides no basis whatsoever for cries that Trump is not legitimate, or whatever other claim will be made by those rapidly acquiring acute cases of TDS to justify their perpetual ‘outrage.’

It is worth mentioning that it is still the case that Trump’s national popular vote numbers are far better than we may ever know.  In some jurisdictions, absentee or mailed in votes are not even counted if it has been determined that they cannot possibly affect the outcome.  (Eg, Trump is winning by 100,000 votes and there are 50,000 votes still to be counted; these jurisdictions may not count them because even if Hillary got 100% of them, it would not matter).  And lets not forget the entirely plausible possibility that Hillary’s present lead is built on the votes of illegal aliens or some other fraudulent scheme.  The Democrats are known for such things, after all.

If ever the election were determined by a national popular vote, there would have to be significant introductions of checks and balances throughout the entire system in order to ensure that even that was a genuine representation of the ‘will’ of a majority of Americans.

In the current environment, you would be a fool if you thought that the results of even a national popular vote would be accepted.

By the ‘left,’ I mean.

It is sad, and more than a little disturbing, that the apparent disparity between the national popular vote and the electoral count is nothing more than a pretext for people who would have found some other pretext to justify their hostile actions and attitudes.

That is our current environment.

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Recap: Defending the Faith by Defending the Family

A couple of months ago, I began organizing my thoughts for some presentations I gave at a pastor’s conference.  The overall theme was ‘the need for apologetics in our culture’ which I took as an opportunity to offer an expanded understanding of the idea of ‘apologetics.’  This was borne from my observations and my research into what I have been calling the “anti-revival.”  The surge in non-Christians over the last decade or so has been remarkable, but most remarkable of all is that many of these were raised in a church.

Perhaps not coincidentally, they also tended to be the children born after the sexual revolution who, in the 1990s, were just coming of age.  If it isn’t a coincidence–and I argue it isn’t–then the underlying dynamics within the culture itself were instrumental in bringing about the “anti-revival.”  But, another important component was the failure of the Church to rise to the challenge.  Thus, what we mean by ‘apologetics’ must include reference to culture, and that most basic of cultural realities–the family.

For those who are interested in hearing those presentations and reading my blog posts organizing my thoughts (and insight into some of the aforementioned research), you may go here.  If your church or organization is interested in learning more about this phenomena and what can be done about it, email me at director@athanatosministries.org.

prri-religious-nones-chart

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Discredited for Collusion: A Blacklist of Members of the Media Complicit with the Democrat Party

There is an awful lot of bad press out there for Donald Trump.  An awful lot.  Some of it he deserved, but a lot of it was contrived and even outright lies.  His statements about Mexicans and the assertion that he mocked disabled people were grossly distorted, for example.  Such things can be added to a long list of examples where the media appeared to be complicit in a manufactured smear campaign.  As usual, the smears served the purposed of liberal Democrats.  But now, thanks to Wikileaks, we have documentary evidence that what was previously only deep suspicion is now demonstrated fact.  While I have no great love for Trump, per se, I do despise manipulation and deceit.

With the idea of keeping a permanent watch on media figures who have been compromised, I hereby propose that any time one of these writes an article, the rest of us summarily dismiss it.  In the comment section of said article, slap a big letter “C” on it and link back to this present post.  Might the “C” confuse some people, like Hillary Clinton?  Probably; some people are easily confused.  But I propose it stand for Compromised. 

I have begun a list below which I hope that people will help me add to by posting names and corroborating documentation of the journalists acting in concert with the Democrat party.  (If ever journalists are shown to be acting in concert with the Republican party, I will consider broadening the scope of this list.)

We need to hold the media more directly accountable for its intentional efforts to manipulate American opinion.  To that end:

  • If any person is shown to collaborate with Democrats while trying to pass off their work as ‘objective’, whichever media organizations that employ that person should FIRE THAT PERSON IMMEDIATELY.  Since I do not expect that this will happen, we need to proactively alert the reading public that the source cannot be trusted; hence labeling their work as Compromised.
  • If a journalist has donated to a political party, this should be listed prominently, so that the readers understand that the article might be biased.

For the record, it is my opinion that there is no such thing as a truly neutral or objective person.  The problem is not that people have biases.  The problem arises when they conceal their bias, and try to portray themselves as being objective.

The list to this point:

[I will link directly to the actual incriminating documents when I have time to do so.  In the meantime, one can dig them up themselves at Wikileaks.]

  • Haim Saban, chairman of Univision
  • John Harwood of CNBC, The New York Times
  • Rebecca Quick of CNBC
  • Maggie Haberman of The New York Times and Politico
  • John Harris, Editor-in-Chief, Politico.
  • Donna Brazile of CNN and the Democratic National Committee
  • Roland Martin of TV-One.
  • Dan Merica of CNN
  • Marjorie Pritchard of The Boston Globe
  • Louise Mensch, editor of Heat Street
  • Sidney Blumenthal
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