25 February 2014

Presidential Balance

The same Framers sought to guard against the same evils by compelling the president to swear at the commencement of his terms in office that he will "faithfully" enforce the laws. The use of the word "faithfully," like the use of the word "all," is intended to assure voters that they can count on a president who will do the job they hired him to do by enforcing federal laws, not evading them, and by enforcing them as Congress has written them, not as the president might wish them to be.
To be fair, many presidents, from the sainted Thomas Jefferson to the tyrannical FDR, put their own spin on federal law. Jefferson pardoned all those convicted under the Alien and Sedition Acts because he hated a statute that punished free speech and he boasted that he would not enforce that part of the acts (they expired under his watch). And FDR when barely two weeks in office issued an executive order criminalizing the possession of gold because he foolishly thought it would stabilize the banks, until an adviser reminded him that only Congress can write criminal laws (which he then persuaded Congress to do). Yet in President Obama we have a president whose personal interferences in the enforcement of federal laws reveal his view that he can rewrite them and even nullify them.

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. [Emphasis added.]

The fundamental conflict every president of the US faces is resolving the conflict between executing duly passed congressional legislation and defending the constitution.  As can be seen even as early as the Alien and Sedition Act, there is sometimes a conflict between executing the office a president (i.e. the one who presides over the government) and defending the constitution from congressional assaults. Trying to argue that a president is bad because he doesn’t faithfully execute all congressional legislation is foolish because a) sometimes legislation is self-contradictory, b) sometimes legislation is impossible to execute, and c) sometime legislation is simply unconstitutional.  In the case of c), you don’t want the president faithfully executing his office because that would mean undermining the constitution (and this would certainly have been the case with the Alien and Sedition Acts).  Thus, for example, I would be quite happy if Obama didn’t act on the congressional authorization for using force against American enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan since doing so would undermine the constitution.  I would also be pleased if Obama would unilaterally disband the TSA, DHS, and a host of other unconstitutional departments, agencies, and bureaucracies.

Now, I think that the judge’s general assertion—that Obama is shitty president who doesn’t take his oath of office seriously—is generally correct.  However, Obama’s disinclination to execute the Office of the President is not itself proof that he’s a bad president because there is often a conflict between executing the office of the president and defending the constitution.  And, as bad as Obama may be, he is still a human being trying to do an impossible job.  He’s doing it poorly, but it’s sometimes good to remember that no man can do it perfectly.

The Laws of Nature are Unholy

Apparently this was too much masculinity for Boundless readers, because the very first comment blasts Bierfeldt for believing that the Bible calls men to make their intentions known and for women to respond, because, apparently, male initiation is merely a cultural aspect.  A few commenters stepped in and thanked Bierfeldt, but the comments then quickly devolved into stuff along the lines of “girls who wait for men to make moves waste a lot of time” and “the Bible isn’t a rule book” and the ultimate bitch comment by a girl who I will assume ought to remain single for the rest of her life because good men don’t deserve this kind of attitude, “Women are not things, period.”  Then some super-sperg shows up demanding Scripture references for where the Bible says that men should initiate.
It really seems like Christian singles want every marriage to be an actual miracle that defies the laws of nature.

And Slumlord:

Once you can get people thinking that spirit/mind good, flesh bad, then all sorts of interesting things become possible. Biology becomes disassociated from person-hood and its seen as something that can be overcome. It's very easy to see the analogy between some desert ascetic trying to break away from the desires of flesh to become a more fully "authentic" Christian and some homosexual male wanting to become a woman but  who is "trapped by their flesh". Both men are trying to escape the realities of their biology.
Sex and gender, likewise become disassociated: the sex being the biology and the gender being the spirit. The feminist approach to sexuality, largely opposed by traditional Christianity, is nevertheless supported by by Christianity's "real world" approach to the human person. Radical feminism is enabled by a Carnal-Lite human anthropology. Being true to biology doesn't matter if you think the flesh is bad.

Fundamentally, if you think that the flesh is unholy, then any capitulation to the flesh is sinful.  It stands to reason, therefore, that the pursuit of sex, even in marriage, is fundamentally wrong which is why, taking this idea to its logical conclusion, it would actually take a miracle for a Christian to get married.  Of course, since marriage is the avenue proscribed by God for the satisfaction of sexual appetites (which, it should be remembered, are of the flesh), there really is no point for this sort of miracle because it would only encourage people to sin by engaging in sex and thus fulfilling their physical desires.  Unless, of course, Christians are supposed to remain virgins even after they’re married.  And then how could any Christian make sense of Genesis 1:28?

Perhaps it would be best to either discard the notions of asceticism, or else not spend too much time worrying about the details.

24 February 2014

The Limits of Language

This is why I continue writing about the dangers of approaching personal relationships in secular terms.

What makes something secular? Is using a modern English translation of God’s word more secular than using the original Greek or Hebrew?  Is using English nomenclature not found in English versions of the Bible secular?  Is thinking in human terms instead of divine terms secular?  (Can one even think in divine terms?  How do you know?  How can one tell the difference between what constitutes human and what constitutes divine?)  I’m not trying to be flippant as I ask this, but I’m trying to point out the underlying assumptions and definitions of the assertion made above.

As is clear from 1 Cor. 11:3, man is inferior to God.  As is clear from Gen. 1:26-27, man is made in God’s image, though this is not to say that man is a carbon copy of God.  Further, it is self-evident simply from reading God’s word that God speaks to man in a language that man can understand because man is inferior to God and (probably) cannot understand God in perfectly divine terms.  In essence, God speaks to man in human terms so that man may have some understanding of divine knowledge.  Because of man’s position as one who is inferior and incompletely divine, man cannot know whether his knowledge from God is a) perfectly divine or b) perfectly complete.  As such, the belief that one can communicate completely in divine terms is unprovable because, from a practical perspective, such an assertion is unknowable, at least in the absence of direct divine revelation.

In keeping with this, it should be clear that it is impossible to perfectly distinguish between the secular and the spiritual, between the human and the divine.  One might have one’s own personal conjecture and beliefs, but personal conjecture is hardly a statement of objective fact.

So, to bring the point home, it is strictly impossible to avoid approaching personal relationships in secular terms because it is impossible to actually distinguish between the secular and the spiritual.  One can, of course, tell the difference between the secular and the religious, but religion is not spirituality, and religion, as a human institution, still thinks in human terms to some degree and is still subject to all the weaknesses and shortcomings of humanity.  As such, there will always be some degree of secularity in humanity’s attempt to discuss spiritual matters because humans are not completely divine, and humans do not possess complete divine knowledge.  Therefore, it is simply nonsensical to fight against discussing personal relationships (or any possible subject in the world) in secular terms since no human is Jehovah and therefore no human thinks or talks exactly like Jehovah.

Once this nonsense is stripped away, it becomes clear that the best thing to do is to communicate with people in terms that they will understand, without giving much regard for whether those terms are “secular,” “religious,” “spiritual,” or “Godly.”   It is presumptuous to assume that we who can only see through a glass darkly will be able to perfectly comprehend the majesty of divine truth if we simply use predominately or exclusively spiritual terms. The truth is that we all grope about in darkness searching for a glimpse of the light, dim though it may be, and it therefore behooves those of us who call ourselves children of light to spread the light in whatever terms we can instead of engaging in petty status games to prove our own piety and holiness.

* I should clarify that what I mean when I say that is nonsense is that this is something that cannot be refuted logically because it is simply a self-defined proof, and not a logical conclusion.

Equality in Real Life

Via Yahoo!, here’s a hilarious example of what happens when a woman plays a man’s sport:

There are a couple of other videos at the link worth checking out, but this one is my absolute favorite because the female running back gets absolutely destroyed on this play.  She doesn’t just get knocked down, but goes flying back a couple of yards because she’s so much smaller and slower than the opposing linebacker that basic physics just takes over.  At any rate, this should provide about as conclusive of an example that you can find to demonstrate that, no matter how you slice and dice it, men and women are not equal, and it’s not even close.

When you think about it, though, this lack of equality is just fine.  Since I’m not gay, I have no interest in having sex with men, even female men.  I’d much rather have sex with a woman.  Beyond that, though, there are a lot of tasks and roles that women are simply better suited for than men, and I’d much rather see women be women and do womanly things than strive in vain to become as men.

More to the point, a society of all men would be brutal and hellish.  A society of masculinized women and feminized men wouldn’t be much better.

It would simply be best for men and women to bow to biology and fill the role that is theirs by nature. Let the women be feminine and the men be masculine, and let’s stop destroying women by encouraging them to fruitlessly pursue masculinity.

11 February 2014

Forgive Us Our Debts…

Billions of dollars in student loans could be forgiven over the next decade, under a proposal in President Barack Obama's budget to expand the program's income-based repayment system.
Student advocates are enthusiastic over the prospect, but critics complain the expansion could extend a program that already encourages young people to borrow too much money and leave taxpayers with their college bills, reports the Wall Street Journal. They also say forgiving debt gives a taxpayer gift to people who need it the least, such as attorneys, doctors, and other white-collar people with graduate degrees.
The program already allows most borrowers with loans issued since October 2007 to make payments equal to 10 percent of their income after taxes and basic living expenses. After 20 years of on-time payments, or 10 years for people working in public or nonprofit jobs, the rest of the balance is forgiven.

Of course, this isn’t really loan forgiveness as much as it is yet another bailout to major banks that back federal loans (either by supplying the money directly or buying the loans packaged as UDOs or bonds).  While I think that this policy is preferable to the current state of affairs, I think it would be far better to either stop federal subsidies of loans and allow bankruptcy or simply declare a jubilee and force banks/lenders to write off their loans completely.

While jubilee likely sounds like a good idea to a lot of people, it’s important to remember that bank deposits are considered loans made to the bank and not assets held in security. (That’s the reason banks pay interest on savings; that’s the usury for the loan.  If you really want to make sure your money is held as an asset, put it in a safety deposit box, which you’ll note costs money.  Funnily enough, it used to be that one would pay banks to hold deposits instead of the other way around, prior to the modern system of fractional reserve baking, of course.)  As such, declaring jubilee means that everyone’s bank deposits (“savings”) will be wiped out completely.  But at least the slate is clean again.

At any rate, the student loan scam is simply a travesty, and an expansion of the federal forgiveness plan is preferable in lieu of the continued inability to discharge the loans in bankruptcy.  Deceiving young people into taking on debt they can’t discharge by normal means is nothing more than slavery by fraud.

Deporting Bieber

As if Barack Obama didn't have enough problems to deal with already, his administration now is being asked to weigh in on the grave matter of Justin Bieber's bad behavior.
By midday Wednesday (1700 GMT), a petition on the White House website calling for the deportation of the Canadian-born teen idol had garnered 103,000 names -- easily surpassing the threshold of 100,000 signatures required for presidential consideration.
"We the people of the United States feel that we are being wrongly represented in the world of pop culture," says the petition, created by one "J.A." in Detroit on January 23, the day Bieber was busted in Miami Beach for impaired driving and illegal drag racing in a flashy Italian sports car.
"We would like to see the dangerous, reckless, destructive and drug-abusing Justin Bieber deported and his green card revoked. He is not only threatening the safety of our people but he is also a terrible influence on our nation's youth. We the people would like to remove Justin Bieber from our society."
The White House website hosts citizens' petitions on other, more heady issues such as the legalization of marijuana and a pardon for National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
"Every petition that crosses the threshold will be reviewed by the appropriate staff and receive a response," assistant White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said.

Hopefully the response to this petition is that the state department revokes Beiber’s O-1 visa and has him deported back to the land of ice and syrup.  I say this not simply because I hate Bieber, but also because I believe that this administration is less likely to fuck up things of major import if it’s too busy worrying about trivial things.  Basically, I want the government to do as little as possible, and spending lots of time dealing with a celebrity’s visa status definitely falls under that category.  Also, fuck Beiber.

Preventing a Mistake From Being Corrected

With apologies to Chesterton, here’s John Hawkins:

Like unions and the civil rights movement, feminism has been so successful that it has become largely irrelevant. Of course, as long as there's a buck to be made or an ego to be massaged, no movement in America ever really goes away. So liberal feminists have moved on from noble pursuits like giving women the right to vote and fighting blatant discrimination in the workplace to working overtime to keep successful conservative women from becoming seen as role models. [Emphasis added.]

The fundamental problem of conservatism, as noted before, is that it always wishes to preserve the past and is not based on any principle.  In this case, Hawkins wishes that feminism stopped around 1950.  However, feminism was and is a movement that will ultimately have to play itself out.  So, much like Pandora’s mythic box, once feminism was unleashed on the world, it could only ever progress to its destructive end.  It was never possible to channel it into something productive, useful, and wise because it was always and ever an unproductive, useless, and foolish philosophy.  As such, lauding whatever perceived good came of feminism is the same as lauding for the bad because the “good” and the bad are inextricably linked.

As such, it is nothing but short-sighted foolishness, and nostalgia for what never was nor could ever be that causes conservatives like John Hawkins to pine for the days when feminism wasn’t dreadful.  If the past was good when women first won the right to vote and have equal employment opportunities, it’s only because the destructive nature of feminism had not yet set in.  Turning back the clock only means repeating the progression that leads to destruction.

Some Terrible News

The number of people exonerated after they were falsely convicted of crimes in the US has reached an historic high, with 87 walking free last year.
A new report from the National Registry of Exonerations finds that almost a third of the people in 2013’s unprecedented crop of exonerations were convicted in cases in which, in fact, no crime was committed – a record-breaking number in itself. Some 22 men and five women were given sentences ranging from probation to life, yet when their convictions were investigated, they were not only found to be innocent, but it was discovered that no offence had occurred in the first place.

While I do not want to make light of the terrible injustices suffered by those who were jailed in spite of being completely innocent of any crime, it seems like this stat is more a cause for celebration than lamentation.  I say this because, when you think about it, it’s downright miraculous that a legal system that currently serves over 300 million people has only had to correct for 87 mistakes this year.

Again, I don’t wish to make light of people being wrongfully imprisoned, but this is a pretty decent system, all things considered.  Compared to the USSR or Maoist China, there isn’t really any reason to complain about courtroom injustice, at least insofar as legal administration is concerned.  Frankly, a lot of countries would kill to have a legal system this good.

Now, concerns about the laws being administered, and the specific processes of administration are a whole ‘nother matter, but a system that doesn’t have a lot of false positives is definitely a good thing, and doesn’t really deserve a lot of complaint.

10 February 2014

To Whom Much Is Given…

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.
“So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’
“But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’—Matthew 25:14-30

The direct point of this parable is pretty obvious:  do the best you can.  But the secondary point, which dovetails nicely with I Corinthians 12, is that people have different lots in life.

To state it differently, everyone has different strengths, weaknesses, talents, abilities, hindrances, temptations, idiosyncrasies, limitations, etc.  People are different.  Consequently, people who are weaker, more short-sighted, less disciplined, and less intelligent will tend to have less wealth and fewer responsibilities than those who are stronger, more intelligent, more disciplined, and wiser.  This not only implies not only that equality doesn’t exist, but also that equality can never exist because those who are lower in rank (i.e. less able given a specific arbitrary metric) will naturally be subordinate to those higher in rank.

As an example, people who are incredibly clever with money tend to be quite rich (like Jewish banksters) while those who are stupid about money tend to be quite poor.  Even when the stupid get lucky (like winning the lottery) or get pitied (like receiving charity or welfare), they still never manage to retain wealth because their general inability to manage money wisely never changes.  Thus, it should come as no surprise that people who are stupid enough to play the lottery and gamble are consequently stupid at holding on to the money they win.  It is their stupidity that puts them in a position to win money, and it is also their stupidity that causes them to piss away their wealth.  In like manner, those who are so foolish with money that they are given charity or welfare out of pity also tend to piss away the money they receive on foolish things (like junk food, e.g.).

Extrapolating this out, it should be obvious that socialism can never work because it assumes that inequality is always and ever the result of some form of class oppression instead of the natural consequences of human diversity.  Essentially, it is theorized that inequality exists because of class oppression.  In reality, class “oppression” exists because of inequality.

Where Rand’s Objectivism and capitalist apologetics goes wrong is that it strongly encourages the elites to work the system in their favor without regard for those beneath them (in fairness, Objectivists tend to do this more than capitalists, though I have personally known some capitalists like this).  In essence, if you’re better than everyone, it’s best to get yours and not worry about anyone else, in the name of individualism, of course.  Others should look out for themselves, if they’re so concerned.

However, this sort of thinking is no more sustainable than socialism because it sows the seeds for proletarian discontent.  It does not follow that capitalists/objectivists should advocate for a nanny state, but it should at least give hardcore market individualists pause.  While one need not advocate for a nanny state, one need not also treat people like shit in the pursuit of the almighty dollar.

To bring this full circle, consider Christ’s words in Luke 12:48, “to whom much is given, much is expected.”  What’s missing among a lot of the elite is the concept of stewardship.  If you are given certain abilities—say, cleverness with money—then it follows that one has a moral responsibility to use this ability in the best way possible.

Some time ago, Steve Sailer pointed out that a lot of minorities tend to not have much in the way of retirement savings.  This isn’t noteworthy unto itself, but what’s interesting is that the reason why most minorities don’t have retirement savings is because they themselves are in charge of their retirement savings, and most minorities tend to lack the requisite cleverness to manage this sort of thing.  What’s sad is that this modern system has virtually eliminated pensions (except among government workers, though most of those pension funds will be bankrupt eventually).  Pensions were a company’s way of providing retirement funds for loyal, honest workers.*  Basically, people who were clever with money took care of those who were not.

This is the essence of hierarchy:  those who are talented leaders look out for those below them.  Those who use their cleverness to abuse the less clever and the stupid are shirking their duty.  Those who use their power to abuse the powerless are shirking their duty.  Those who take advantage of or otherwise disregard their inferiors are shirking their duty.  If you are given a talent, you are not only expected to make use of it and improve upon it, but you are also expected to use your talent to help those who are lacking.  This is the Christian form of hierarchy writ large.

Unfortunately, the spread of egalitarianism is gutting this mindset and attitude as the assumptions of this philosophy necessarily contradict the entire notion of hierarchy.  Thus, as America slides away from its Anglo-Christian roots, inequality will ironically increase as those who are in charge continue to take advantage of those beneath them, while those of the lower class will increasingly distrust and resent the elites who abuse them.  Thus, another Christian paradox comes to bear:  those who deny human diversity in the name of egalitarianism will actually make people less equal and more divided.

* Of course, this is a highly dumbed down summary, as the history of labor and capital is slightly more complex than this.