August 2016 Archives
August 3, 2016
Having Principles Means Having Fewer Choices
People don't always seem to understand this, but here it is: Having principles means having fewer choices.
That's true even when it feels like you could do something that might prevent a bad thing from happening. If that something goes against your principles, then either you won't do it, or you don't really hold that principle.
If you think torture is intrinsically evil, or that "going after" the families of your enemies is evil, you can't vote for someone who would do those things. I mean, you can, but don't pretend that torture or murder are against your principles.
If you think abortion is intrinsically evil, you can't vote pro-"choice". I mean, you can, but don't pretend that you're pro-life if you're willing to vote for a candidate who supports the right to choose pre-natal infanticide.
Casting a vote reveals what principles you truly have. A vote for Hillary isn't just a vote for Hillary -- it's a vote that demonstrates that a candidate with her principles will get your vote. Likewise with a vote for Trump. And the political class will take note, and adjust their future platforms accordingly.
The problem isn't just the candidates (although there are massive problems with the candidates). It's us.
This idea -- that having principles leaves us with fewer choices -- extends far beyond the election. But at least for this election, its consequences are clear.
August 5, 2016
I'm re-reading Dickens's Bleak House. In case it's been a while since you've read the book, Bleak House features the endless case Jarndyce v. Jarndyce in Chancery, which eventually, after decades, eats up the entire estate it's about in court costs.
England is still at it, abusing court costs. The difference is that, in Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, only the estate itself is devoured. Individual people become involved and lose all their money only insofar as they are mesmerized by the case and choose to devote themselves to it, thinking to gain something from it. (There is one exception: a pathetic executor who is imprisoned indefinitely for obscure reasons, but Dickens only mentions him once.) There is no intent to target any individual for ideological reasons. It's just, as Dickens observes repeatedly with some bitterness, a bad system that rewards cynical lawyers. In the case I'm about to write about here, the targeting is obvious and deliberate, and court costs are the means of punishment.
August 10, 2016
A Vulgar (and Humorous) Look Back At the Moral Corruption Surrounding Barack Obama
I hope you’ll indulge me for a moment and take a trip back in time. I was feeling nostalgic due to the fact that our disgraced former Governor, Rod Blagojevich (“Blago” for short) was just in the news here pleading for clemency before the federal judge who handed down his 14 year sentence for various forms of political corruption. Some of his charges were eventually thrown out by a federal appeals court, which is why he was before the judge yesterday arguing that his sentence should be reduced (it wasn’t.)
August 11, 2016
The left blinks on SB1146
Well, a surprising bit of partially good news. After a lot of negative publicity, the sponsor of California's SB1146 has blinked on its worst provisions--namely, blocking colleges from taking any students who receive state aid if the colleges "discriminate" on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. See my earlier posts here and here.
Senator Lara, who sounds like a leftist totalitarian if there ever were one, has said that he will back off on those provisions in his bill for the time being. But it sounds like he may try again next year. Meanwhile, the new version of the bill still tries to brand schools with a scarlet letter if they get a religious exemption to the transgender interpretation of Title IX, and it will do one more thing: It will require schools to report to the state (!!) when they exercise discipline on a student for moral code reasons.
August 14, 2016
Leon Bridges is awesome
Leon Bridges of Ft. Worth, Texas, is one of the best things going right now in American music. His throwback R&B, his classy demeanor, his generous charisma, his excellence in singing, his subtle innovations in truly American forms — why, this just the kind of thing this polarized country needs.
The young man has a fan in me.
I was born in 1978. Anyone born in the thirty years preceding that year will have an instant connection with the songs of Leon Bridges; anyone born in the succeeding ten will have an instant connection to the nostalgia for those earlier years which Bridges exemplifies. The 80s through mid-90s were, probably, the years most nostalgic for the late 50s and 60s.
What all that yearly babble is intended to say is this: that his guy Leon Bridges can play an updated version of a style of music that everyone thinks they know, but maybe they really don’t. Maybe it took Leon Bridges to re-awaken it.
Bridges is capable of blues tunes of superbly tight construction. “Flowers.”
He is capable of more moody climactic bluesy songs. “Coming Home.”
He is capable of masterful straight-up R&B love songs. “Better Man.” “Twistin’ & Groovin.”
I can’t wait to see what else this talented young man might supply to the Americana canon.
Below is a little concert that Bridges performed for National Public Radio a year or so ago. Keep in mind that this concert was purely acoustic while his normal sound has a great dancing beat to it.
August 16, 2016
But wait, there's more! Refuting a claim of discrepancy in the gospels
A friend asked me the other day to repeat my opinion, which he'd heard me give at one time, about an alleged discrepancy between Mark's and Luke's location of the feeding of the five thousand.
August 18, 2016
The Atlantic Pretends There is no Zero-Sum Game
By this time it should be obvious to anyone who is not living under a rock that the left's LGBTQ!%!@#% agenda is a zero-sum game. And many people are saying as much. The attempt to pass SB1146 is further evidence. Moral traditionalists, even those with an explicitly religious rationale, are not going to be left alone to "do their own thing" as long as they leave the homosexuals and transgenders alone to do theirs. You must affirm. Ask the baker, the florist, and the photographer. Ask the employers and businessmen in New York City who are having their speech micromanaged by the civil rights commission to insure that they call a man by his "preferred pronouns" if he identifies as a woman. Ask all the colleges who almost had their California funding pulled because they wouldn't house homosexuals in married student dorms and affirm that a man can turn into a woman.
But some people are still playing the tired, old card, raggedy and fraying around the edges by now and instantly recognizable from any angle as a failed trick: If Christians would just be nicer to homosexuals, we could all get along.
The latest example thereof is this article on the web site of The Atlantic.
August 20, 2016
This is what a problem with religious freedom looks like
To say that Mikey Weinstein of the misnamed Military Religious Freedom Foundation has a hang-up about Christianity would be much too mild. It would be closer to say that Weinstein is a mouth-foaming, obsessed Christianophobe, a word I don't use lightly. Weinstein is Captain Ahab, and out-of-the-closet Christians in the military are his white whale.
Weinstein is so crazy that he doesn't even realize how crazy he sounds. His unhinged rants, which he fully expects to be taken with dead seriousness by everyone, would be funny if he didn't have far too much influence with higher military brass. See more examples here.
August 26, 2016
California never quits
I should say at the outset that the title of this post is a little misleading, because the California law I'm going to write about here was actually passed years ago, in 2012, it appears. Here, as far as my best googling efforts extend, is the text of the law. It's in the news again now because of a recent (bad) Ninth Circuit Court ruling on it.
This law forbids all "sexual orientation change efforts" by any licensed counselor, including any licensed marriage and family therapist (a credential earned and possessed by some pastors), for a counseling client under eighteen years of age. "Sexual orientation change efforts" are defined very broadly. This law doesn't apply only to some highly specific type of "reparative therapy" but to any attempt to work with the young person to "eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex." The law is sufficiently broadly worded that it presumptively also forbids attempts to help gender-confused minors become un-gender-confused. (In other words, telling confused boys that they are boys and confused girls that they are girls.)
The Pacific Justice Institute, another of the hard-working pro bono conservative legal organizations, has been filing suit against this law ever since using both freedom of speech arguments and freedom of religion arguments.
The case is in the news again because, just a few days ago, the infamous Ninth Circuit Court upheld the law against a religious liberty challenge from the PJI on behalf of pastors who are also licensed counselors.
August 31, 2016
Pray again for Pastor Ken Miller
I try to update my readers from time to time about Pastor Ken Miller. Miller has been imprisoned and is serving a 27-month sentence in federal prison for helping Lisa Miller (no relation) escape the country with her biological daughter, Isabella, years ago. Lisa and Isabella fled the U.S. to avoid Isabella's being given in full custody to a woman unrelated to Isabella, Lisa's former lesbian lover. I have written about the case repeatedly and am not writing this entry to re-litigate it.
The federal government has hounded Pastor Miller into prison, where he is patiently serving his sentence. He writes updates for his supporters at this site.
But the federal government is not going to leave him alone to finish out his sentence and try to put his life back together.