June 24, 2016
...that the people who say big banks must be broken up think that big governments must not be?
June 21, 2016
In terms of sheer brazenness, it would be difficult to exceed this extraordinary specimen. George Soros writes in The Guardian to counsel against the Brexit; and this guy has got a lot of nerve.
To start off, sterling is almost certain to fall steeply and quickly if there is a vote to leave– even more so after yesterday’s rebound as markets reacted to the shift in opinion polls towards remain. I would expect this devaluation to be bigger and more disruptive than the 15% devaluation that occurred in September 1992, when I was fortunate enough to make a substantial profit for my hedge fund investors, at the expense of the Bank of England and the British government. [ . . .]
Brexiters seem to recognise that a sharp devaluation would be almost inevitable after Brexit, but argue that this would be healthy, despite the big losses of purchasing power for British households. In 1992 the devaluation actually proved very helpful to the British economy, and subsequently I was even praised for my role in helping to bring it about.
Now, whatever we may think of this Hungarian usurer, it would be imprudent to dismiss his views of financial markets; but as a friend shrewdly points out, if Soros really believed the pound sterling might lose 20% of its value after a British farewell to the European Union, we would not be hearing about it in the pages of The Guardian.
Since a true estimate of his real views could only be gleaned from the non-public details of the positions held by his investment funds, I’m constrained to answer in an allusive fashion.
(It appears that Bob Dylan songs have been removed from Youtube. More’s the pity. I’m forced to rely on this tolerable cover version.)
June 18, 2016
California's legislature is trying to tighten the screws on Christian colleges in that state. Here, as best as I understand it, is the legal situation. California's S.B. 1146 (text here) amends a law that applies to all schools in the state whose students receive state money for their education. It amends it in such a way that religious schools will find it much harder to get an exemption from "discrimination" provisions that apply to all the usual areas, including homosexuality, the transgender agenda, and even religion! That's right: Religious schools in California whose students receive government aid, despite being religious schools, wouldn't be allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion! So they wouldn't be able to keep their distinctively religious character at all. The only schools that could get an exemption would be those that are controlled wholly by a denomination and whose purpose is confined to training students for the ministry. So Christian liberal arts colleges would either have to forego all government funding for their students or else abandon their distinctive moral and religious characteristics. As far as I can tell, if the schools were to forego all state and federal aid both for the school and for all of the students, they could avoid the impact of the legislation. I'm open to being corrected on that perception.
June 15, 2016
The aftermath of the recent jihad murders in Orlando, like the aftermath of every other mass shooting (and for that matter every celebrity death) has been marked by a vast tide of undirected emotion and sentiment. In addition to the inevitable debates (over gun control, for example), the world of social media is awash in calls to one another to pray for Orlando and expressions of emotion over the shooting.
There are worse things than soppy sentimentalism. Cruelty and hard-heartedness, for example. But I want to be one voice stating that sentiment for the sake of sentiment has its drawbacks and that American culture is in grave danger of thinking just the opposite--namely, that sentiment for the sake of sentiment is inherently virtuous.
June 14, 2016
For the past couple of years I have been toying with writing a big piece about what is now known as “neo-reaction” or the “alternative right” (or “alt-right” for short.) I have been a regular reader of a variety of their writers and websites on and off for years beginning, of course, with the infamous Mencius Moldbug. All of the sudden, coinciding with the success of the Trump candidacy, it seems like everyone and their brother is writing the definitive ’take-down’ of the “alt-right” or explaining just what neo-reaction is all about or why we should all be scared of their ideas.
June 13, 2016
When one of the sons of Jihad undertakes to enact his sick parody of soldiering by visiting butchery by high velocity rifle round on unarmed carousers, we are invited to think about anything but the simple facts. Every possible distraction is introduced to baffle our reasoning minds from compassing reality.
Given this cloud of unknowing, we will restate reality.
So by way of repetition, and in the face of paralyzing ennui, we affirm that this act of despicable treachery, this razzia in Orlando, arises out of the Islamic religion.
It does not arise out of the character of Americans, any more than Paris arose out of the character of Frenchmen or Brussels out of the character of Belgians; it arises out of the authentic doctrine and deep antiquity of Islam.
Notice that we do not add emollient modifiers or phony suffixes. Islam itself is a perpetual menace to peace and civilized life. American policy should be oriented, without qualification or apology, toward diminishing its presence and its influence upon our country.
June 7, 2016
Well, I've decided to go ahead and get myself in a certain amount of trouble. Needless to say, comments will be moderated carefully. Graphic comments will be edited or deleted.
Since my Facebook news feed exploded with outraged posts about the Brock Turner case at Stanford University, I've been mulling over whether to say anything. But things have been a little quiet around here, and I do have something to say, so I've decided to launch out. I may even be bold enough to post a link on Facebook; you never know.
Here's my understanding: Brock Turner has been convicted of intending to rape an intoxicated person and of (here I am deliberately following my own rules on not being graphic) engaging in certain sexual behavior that in other circumstances would be considered foreplay or groping with an intoxicated person and with an unconscious person (those being the same person). Whether the woman (whose name I can't seem to find) actually passed out in the course of their encounter or only shortly thereafter remains, shall we say, ambiguous, but evidently prosecutors and a jury thought she passed out in the course thereof. Both were highly intoxicated. He claims that he never took his clothes off, and apparently prosecutors agree.
Turner's account and the woman's account are actually compatible, so I think it's only fair to believe both of them. She's traumatized because she doesn't remember anything about what happened, doesn't remember Turner or know him from Adam, and because the procedures for investigating possible rape after she was found, passed out behind the frat house, were in themselves highly invasive and upsetting. He's clearly a guy with a completely empty, soulless view of sex who merely thought he was "hooking up," while he was drunk, with an equally intoxicated stranger. As it turns out, apparently engaging in sexual activity with someone who's intoxicated is a crime in California, so the prosecutors had a cut and dried case on that point. The "intent to rape" seems a little more dubious as a matter of evidence, but evidently they convinced a jury.
June 3, 2016
Recently New Testament scholar Michael Licona has been doing a written debate with Bart Ehrman. Links to their entire back-and-forth can be found here.
In the course of that discussion, Ehrman argues that the infancy accounts in Matthew and Luke are radically at odds with each other, though oddly enough he brings up only one actual apparent discrepancy between the accounts. (Namely, that Luke seems to have thought that the Holy Family went back directly from Jerusalem to Nazareth, whereas Matthew would put the slaughter of the innocents and the flight into Egypt and residence in Egypt at this point in the story.) The rest of Ehrman's discussion consists of mocking the census account in Luke and working the chestnut that it never happened, etc.
June 1, 2016
I've been thinking lately about deconversion stories. If one hangs around on the Internet long enough, one certainly runs across them. A theme that sometimes crops up is that the person did not want to deconvert. Looking over the deconvert's shoulder at the flimsiness of the arguments that led him away from Christianity, one is permitted to wonder about that, but it is what a deconvert will sometimes say, and presumably he believes it when he says it: "I didn't want to deconvert. I struggled. I asked God to help me keep my faith, to speak to me, to reach out to me. God didn't help, or didn't help enough, and now here I am--I'm not a Christian anymore."
May 26, 2016
The below was mostly written almost a full year ago, around the time my day job gave me the occasion to converse at length with some folks directly covering the story. Engagements and hesitations, I fear, have now delayed this little provocation well beyond the rim of relevance. Still, there is perhaps merit in the presentation of even rascal polemics, since all we are here are bloggers extraordinaire.
I do admit that it will shock some readers to discover conservative plaudits for the Grateful Dead.
San Francisco hippies and drug-addled fools who engendered a romance of dreary dissolution: How could any self-respecting conservative spare a word of praise for them?
Well, I speak only for myself, and with no pretended want of reservations.
May 24, 2016
My contract with DeWard Publishing for a book on undesigned coincidences has just been signed and countersigned, and we move forward to copy editing, typesetting, and production issues. I do not have a projected release date as of yet.
But here as a topical teaser is an undesigned coincidence included therein, one of the few that I discovered on my own. The wording used here is not the same as the wording in the book. I'm writing this post without looking at the book manuscript.
May 20, 2016
Almost six years ago I wrote a post with the same title as the current post (without the Roman numeral, of course). There I was examining the liberal idea that, if something isn't against the law, everyone else has to cooperate with it in a positive way. The example I used was that liberals assume that, if a minor girl is not legally required to tell her parents that she is having sex, a pharmacist is legally obligated to sell her contraception to enable her fornication.
The most recent examples of a similar attitude arise in the insane context of the "transgender" debate. The assumption is that, if some law cannot successfully be passed by a government entity legislating on the matter of whether biological males must use separate bathroom facilities from biological females, business have zero freedom in this matter and must "not discriminate" against people claiming to be the opposite sex.
This, of course, doesn't follow. State and local governments could simply be silent on the matter altogether while permitting local businesses to decide how to handle this. I suppose, with the insanity growing, that city government buildings and employers would have to have some policy, but this might even vary from one city to the next or one supervisor to the next, reflecting local mores.
May 17, 2016
The Supreme Court appears to have semi-resolved the issue of the Obama Administration beating up on the Little Sisters of the Poor (as discussed earlier), but they may have just created a temporary delay instead.
In a Per Curiam (unanimous) decision announced yesterday, they are vacating lower court decisions and remanding back to them for re-consideration. This is because of new facts developed since the lower courts decided. What new facts? The new facts are those that the Court itself elicited after oral arguments, when the Court asked the parties to submit new briefs on whether there might be a manner in which the government gets what it wants - contraceptive insurance coverage under the employer's insurer - while the religious organization gets what it wants - not to be morally complicit in providing contraceptives. According to the Supreme Court, the re-briefs conceded that it IS possible:
Following oral argument, the Court requested supplemental briefing from the parties addressing “whether contraceptive coverage could be provided to petitioners’ employees, through petitioners’ insurance companies, without any such notice from petitioners.” Post, p. ___. Both petitioners and the Government now confirm that such an option is feasible. Petitioners have clarified that their religious exercise is not infringed where they “need to do nothing more than contract for a plan that does not include coverage for some or all forms of contraception,” even if their employees receive cost-free contraceptive coverage from the same insurance company.
Although the Court claims that it is not deciding any of the issues before it in the case, and sending the issues back to the lower courts for them to re-consider,
The Court expresses no view on the merits of the cases. In particular, the Court does not decide whether petitioners’ religious exercise has been substantially burdened, whether the Government has a compelling interest, or whether the current regulations are the least restrictive means of serving that interest.
it is important to realize that the Court is framing the case with a lot of new direction to the lower courts. The most important is how it framed the above quote, in saying that the parties "now confirm" that a mutually acceptable path is "feasible", it takes the wind out of the government's sails if it tries to pursue the matter in the Appeals courts. It would be seemingly irrational for a lower court, after the Supreme Court stated “both parties confirm that such an option is feasible,” to STILL decide that “the existing regulation is the least restrictive means of serving that interest”. I think that the Court is implying that much at least. Officially, the Court is saying “now that the parties both accept X in principle, you need to re-think your decisions in light of X”. But substantively, X actually consists in a less restrictive non-objectionable means of serving the government’s interest – at least in outline form.
May 13, 2016
May 12, 2016
The most recent instance of persecution for refusal to participate in the homosexual agenda is so legally dubious, indeed prima facie illegal, that one thinks, "This can't work." But that depends on the Wyoming State Supreme Court.
Ruth Neely was until recently a small-down municipal judge and circuit court magistrate in tiny Pinedale, Wyoming. In 2014 a federal judge imposed homosexual "marriage" on the state of Wynoming. In her role of magistrate Neely is allowed (but according to her lawyers not required) to perform marriages. In her role as judge she does not even have authority to perform marriages but deals with things like traffic tickets.
Neely gave an interview to a newspaper in which she stated that she would not perform homosexual "marriages" due to her sincere religious beliefs about marriage.
This sparked an "ethics" investigation, and the vengeful ethics board demanded that she be removed from office for a variety of "ethics" violations merely for voicing these opinions. These violations include "prejudice based on sexual orientation," "acting improperly," and "refusing to uphold the rule of law."
The ethics board has even recommended that she be fined! The stories in the news all say things like "fines of up to $40,000," and I've been unable to find out exactly what this means. Presumably it means that someone else decides exactly how much to fine her, and the ethics board has set it up so that that person could fine her as much as $40K. It looks like there is no such thing as a jury trial or conviction before she would suffer such fines, though the case can be appealed to the state Supreme Court, which is what is happening right now. She's already been removed from her position both as a magistrate and as a judge, despite the fact that the judge position doesn't even allow her to perform marriages.