Wednesday, February 28, 2007
The very notion that Gore is a hypocrite when the issue is something that has nothing to do with personal virtue and everything to do with collective action just goes to show how badly it f__s people up when religion and politics get intertwined.
Yeah, I know this doesn't have anything to do with the topic at hand, but it's interesting anyway. With Amanda, the reason people oppose her on anything always comes down to 1) her being a women and 2) her opponents being religious. And no, it doesn't make any sense.
Making environmentalism a modern day version of puritanical abstention doesn’t do much to actually help the planet. Carbon taxes would make a difference.
Ah, the ubiquitous liberal solution. Whenever a problem presents itself state that people are helpless to do anything on their own; thus the government must step in to save the day. Hooray. At least she realizes that taxes provide a disincentive to use a certain product. If Amanda wasn't wholly incapable of reasoning, she might, in Steve Forbes form, come out in favor of the flat tax. Anyway, two points:
First, this is a good example of why liberalism is so disdainful. Liberals have discovered a problem which many conservatives don't believe to be problematic, to wit, the role of human beings in causing the globe to warm. Instead of taking the higher road and using fewer and fewer of the nefarious fruits of the Industrial Revolution which have, allegedly, contributed to the supposed problem, they whine for the government to do something. This is, at the very least, annoying and adolescent. But so is liberalism.
Second, why do we trust the government to do something about this problem? I reckon it's their clean record when it comes to the War on Drugs. Yes sir, the government can't so anything when it comes to eradicating, or even mitigating poverty, but it sure as heck can stop humans from destroying themselves with their durned SUVs. In all likelihood, corporations will be allowed to burn more fossil fuels than the rest of us, so we can keep the plutocracy going strong. Meanwhile, the rest of us will have to use the bus for transportation.
Back to the lady who will have to ride the short bus:
Gore should probably do more personally if his bills are indeed that high, but on the whole, it’s hardly relevant compared to the huge amount of work that he’s done advocating for a collective response... Calling Al Gore a hypocrite and deciding this excuses your SUV-driving doesn’t change the facts; the planet will still fry even as your conscience is clear because you called Gore a hypocrite. Even if Al Gore were the highest carbon emitter on the planet, this would not change the truth about global warming one bit.
As for the first point, getting the word out isn't doing anything. Seriously, it's next to irrelevant. And only leftist pseudo-intellectuals could think that whining about a problem is equivalent to doing something about it. Witness Marx, who wrote and wrote, but never personally contributed to the unification of the workers of the world.
Second, it's exasperating when the people who claim we have a problem not only do nothing to eradicate said problem, but actually contribute further to it. If you think a problem is serious, you have to treat it seriously. Al Gore may speak seriously, but his actions don't exactly suggest that if we do nothing, we'll all die. If he really believes that, he's going to need to cut back just a little. Until the Henny-Pennys who cry to government do something personally about the fact that the sky is falling, I'm going to find it awfully hard to care.
Disgraced blogger Amanda Marcotte, who “resigned” from the Edwards campaign after he was alerted to a few of her ramblings not re-printable in a paper like the Lode, is up to her usual. Miss Marcotte has decided to summon all of her faculties to argue that abortion, far from being simply a necessary evil, is a moral good. She writes:
To see that abortion is moral, you just need to look at women as human beings with lives that have value. When a woman chooses abortion... she is probably thinking about her family’s well-being and yes, her own well-being. Taking your own well-being into consideration is called “selfish” by anti-choicers, but I think valuing yourself is a moral good, even if you are female... Abortion, not just the right to abortion but the actual procedure, is a moral good that helps women and families and should be honored as such. Women who get abortions should be recognized as people who can accurately weigh their choices and make the most moral one.
Actually, I would argue that the forty-five million aborted American babies who died nameless and disgracefully so that women could assert a right to choose would agree with me that women seldom accurately weigh their choices and thus seldom make the most moral one. No surer proof of the folly of the nineteenth amendment exists than the littered corpses whose number far surpass those of Hitler and his Nazi Party. As Vox Day once observed, “Calling a feminist a feminazi is an insult to National Socialism.”
Back to Marcotte's argument. Abortion is moral on the grounds that it “helps women and families” and that “valuing yourself is a moral good”. There are two problems with this line of thinking, if we may deign to call it such.
First, her two premises are false. Killing a member of one's family will make it easier to pay the bills and so forth, but only the cretins who judge everything in economic terms, like the plutocrats and the Communists, would be so silly as to fall for such a monstrosity. And while valuing oneself is a moral good, it should never be treated as the supreme moral good. Any moral code which begins and ends with self-valuation ends in nihilism and despair, as did Nietzsche with his will-to-power. The foundation of any good moral system must include some provision for the treatment of others; and no, aborting others is not a moral good.
But even if we pretend that the premises are true, it will be easy to find hundreds of examples which allow for other “moral” acts. A rapist need only explain that he values himself, and that raping someone—especially a feminist—is good for him and his family and he shall be allowed to rape away.
An even more exact parallel exists. Let us take a typical American father, happily married to his wife, who works hard to support their three children. One day, he is laid off from work. Upon arriving home, he calls a family meeting. No longer able to support his family, even with his wife's salary, he decides that they must off one of the children. It is, admittedly, an unfortunate thing for the boy—or girl—who draws the short straw, but the family will be better off with one less mouth to feed. The two lucky children promise to keep the grave adorned with fresh flowers.
Amanda, like most feminists, is a sophist through and through. She wants to be able to have sex whenever she wishes, and she wants to be able to choose when, if ever, she has children. But when birth control doesn't control birth, something must be done. Thus abortion must exist. The moral construction which allows for this is actually irrelevant. Childish and immature, Amanda wants what she wants, and will allow nothing, certainly nothing so silly as reason, to prevent her from getting her way.
Debating with those who think like Amanda, who care not for truth, is nothing more than a waste of breath. It is of as much use as arguing with a National Socialist. Open derision is the best and only dish to serve feminazis. And Caina awaits those treacherous to kin.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
In regards to the latter, I have several points to offer:
1) The AIDS crisis is almost certainly over-stated. Yes people are dying of AIDS in many parts of Africa, but they are dying from other factors not explicitly related to HIV/AIDS which are nonetheless reported as AIDS deaths. To be quite blunt, AIDS is way sexier than starvation, especially when the former can be blamed on ignorant superstition but the cause of the latter is, by and large, the corrupt governments on the continent.
2) Condoms are not going to prevent AIDS. Used correctly, they will severely mitigate the spread of the disease, but it is a bit absurd to believe that people who cannot connect the HIV virus with AIDS and still think that having sex with a virgin will cure the disease are going to be likely to use condoms correctly. In addition, while condoms may prevent the spread of AIDS, I for one would desire more than a piece of latex betwixt me and certain death. Call me conservative.
3) The Roman Catholic position will severely reduce the number of cases of AIDS. Abstinence may be difficult, but it is one hundred percent effective. If our ultimate goal is to eradicate AIDS entirely, abstinence simply must be emphasized.
When it comes to HIV/AIDS in Africa, I do not feel that my Church has blood on Her hands. But I stumbled on a story which suggests that sexual libertines may not be so innocent.
More than a quarter of U.S. girls and women ages 14 to 59 are infected with the sexually transmitted human wart virus, which causes most cases of cervical cancer, U.S. health officials estimated on Tuesday.
That means human papillomavirus or HPV infection is more common than previously thought, particularly among younger age groups, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers said. Its prevalence was highest among those 20 to 24, with 44.8 percent infected, and nearly a quarter of teenagers aged 14 to 19.Sexual restraint has its perks; they become especially clear when gazing at the evidence of those who show no such restraint. As Camille Paglia observed in Sexual Personae, "But of course nature has won, as she always does, by making disease the price of promiscuous sex."
We have found, apparently, a vaccination for the HPV virus. But nature is not so easily defeated. Morality aside, abstinence prior to monogamy, as supported by the Church, is the best recipe for a disease free existence. Common sense usually wins out eventually.
Rumor has it someone found Jesus' tomb. This will, apparently, call into question the Resurrection. Pardon me for not shaking too terribly in my boots. I have little doubt that this will be proven a hoax in short order. The evidence is scant, to say the least, though the fellow who discovered the tomb should make a pretty penny on his little documentary. Far be it for me to suggest an ulterior motive.
But let us suppose that this filmmaker has somehow dis-proven Christianity. Maybe the faith which I share with some 2.1 billion people worldwide is a giant scam. Maybe.
And yet if Christianity is false, only a system of nonsense perpetuated by superstitious madmen, it is all the more strange that it has lasted for two thousand years. That a man named Christ was the Son of God is fantastic; that the most influential figure in human history wasn't God at all, but was only an unpopular preacher among a set of bizarre people in the Middle East is profoundly more fantastic. St. Augustine wrestles with this topic in his monumental City of God:
And the very manner in which the world's faith was won is found to be even more incredible if we consider it. Men uninstructed in any branch of a liberal education, without any of the refinement of heathen learning, unskilled in grammar, not armed with dialectic, not adorned with rhetoric, but plain fishermen, and very few in number,-these were the men whom Christ sent with the nets of faith to the sea of this world.... It is incredible that Jesus Christ should have risen in the flesh and ascended with flesh into heaven; it is incredible that the world should have believed so incredible a thing; it is incredible that a very few men, of mean birth and the lowest rank, and no education, should have been able so effectually to persuade the world, and even its learned men, of so incredible a thing. Of these three incredibles, the parties with whom we are debating refuse to believe the first; they cannot refuse to see the second, which they are unable to account for if they do not believe the third.
That Christianity is mere rubbish one could claim. But one would have to come up with an alternative explanation for its pervasiveness. Either Christ was who he said He was and Christianity is true or we are faced with something far more unbelievable than that God would deign to walk among us. Supposing Christ was merely a liar or a lunatic, how does one explain the fact that people still know of Him? If He was only a madman, why did all of His Disciples, save Judas who betrayed him, and the mystic John, who died a natural death, give up their life for His cause? Nor can anyone who has studied the Gospels fail to be surprised that the woeful Disciples found the courage to die. These had locked themselves in a room for fear of the Jews, and some fifty days after the Resurrection they are putting their very lives on the line to spread the Good News. And after establishing a Church community in Jerusalem, the Disciples went onto the ends of the earth to further establish churches, leaving the Roman Empire to be converted, almost single-handedly, by a former persecutor named Saul, now called Paul.
Strange stuff indeed. If only the world knew how strange any explanation must be, they might some day ponder the possibility of there being a great deal of truth in the unusual claim of that prophet from Galilee.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Last night, Al Gore’s global-warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, collected an Oscar for best documentary feature, but the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has found that Gore deserves a gold statue for hypocrisy.
Gore’s mansion, [20-room, eight-bathroom] located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).
In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.
This is just reason number 37 why I can't get on the global warming bandwagon. I'm not going to take the warming of the globe seriously until members of the movement do. Seriously, why are people like Al Gore given a single second of attention? If a pro-lifer was known to have abortions while arguing that abortion should be illegal, she would be laughed off the stage. Why should our treatment of Gore be any different?
And no, he doesn't have to live in a tee-pee without any electricity at all, but cutting back does require moving out of the mansion. Sorry to break it to him.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
A group of influential Christian conservatives and their allies emerged from a private meeting at a Florida resort this month dissatisfied with the Republican presidential field and uncertain where to turn...
Many conservatives have already declared their hostility to Senator John McCain of Arizona, despite his efforts to make amends for having once denounced Christian conservative leaders as “agents of intolerance,” and to former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, because of his liberal views on abortion and gay rights and his three marriages.
Many were also suspicious of former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts; members have used the council as a conduit to distribute a dossier prepared by a Massachusetts conservative group about liberal elements of his record on abortion, stem cell research and gay rights. (Mr. Romney has worked to convince conservatives that his views have changed.)
While it doesn't take but a few braincells to realize that the GOP is sticking it to their conservative Christian base, it's good to see that at least some of the base is tired of being taken for granted for so long. Granted, the dupes may still march to the polls to defeat the eventual Democratic nominee, Hillary and Obama being equally abominable. Still, this brain activity is better than what I've seen during the last six years.“There is great anxiety,” said Paul Weyrich, chairman of the Free Congress Foundation. “There is no outstanding conservative, and they are all looking for that.”
Ah, but therein lies the rub. The Republican Party has become a big party, and a Reagan-esque leader will be needed to unite all the various factions. This isn't your granddaddy's GOP. It's a unique fellow who can be tough on terror, champion small government, be committed to preventing illegal immigration, appease big-business plutocrats, placate social conservatives, and so on and so forth. Such a man does not exist. Moreover, if he does, he won't be someone who is trustworthy enough to be electable.
I don't think the Evangelicals are mad enough to defect from the Republican party en masse. But enough will vote third party or stay home, that the Democrat, whoever (s)he be, should have no trouble winning.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Iran plans a female-only island to boost tourism in a northwest province, the Tehran-e Emrouz newspaper on Wednesday quoted a local official as saying...
"There will be no men on the Arezou (Wish) island. Public transport, restaurants and other facilities will be staffed only by women," Aghai said.Only one question. What if somebody needs to change their oil?
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Over Christmas break, a few friends and I headed to the theater to catch Jesus Camp. For those who have not seen the film: get thee to a movie store. Briefly, the movie is a documentary, focusing on Evangelical Christians. Specifically, the film focuses on the lives of three young Evangelicals: Levi, Rachael, and Tory, and their role in Pastor Becky Fischer's "Kids on Fire" summer camp in Devil's Lake, North Dakota. The documentary has been described as even-handed, and, for the most part, it is. Many of the scenes from the camp are disturbing; for instance, young children break down crying as an adult bemoans the pervasiveness of the abortion holocaust. But the Evangelicals get a chance to defend themselves as well. By handing the Evangelicals some rope and allowing them to hang themselves, by virtue of their own words, the filmmakers score big.
My two friends left the theater flustered and shocked. My indefatigable pessimism ensured that I wasn't entirely surprised at the depths of nonsense to which people commonly descend, but I felt the movie was intriguing and informative. Although I have no problems with parents exposing their children to the faith which they share, I thought it unwise that parents allowed their children to be frightened about the evils of the world at so young an age. Children should be allowed to be children before they have to become bitter and jaded adults like the rest of us.
I did, however, have one slight qualm with the presentation of the film. Scattered throughout were clips from Mike Papantonio's weekly radio show, Ring of Fire, which is syndicated on the perpetually struggling Air America Radio. Papantonio, like many of his left-leaning colleagues, believes that Evangelicals are to be feared. They have, apparently, taken the White House, the Congress, and the Supreme Court for “a generation”. And yet...
Bush is an Evangelical, but his faith has not prevented him from invading Iraq; nor has he seen fit to do anything significant about abortion—and no, a wimpy ban on partial birth abortion doesn't count, especially since the law was thrown out by a couple of judges who believe that the Founders formed a more perfect union to allow for infanticide. Congress had been re-captured by the Democrats, and the Republicans have nothing to show for it. Tax cuts are nice, to be sure, but I don't recall Christ mentioning them in the Gospels. As for the High Court, let's not forget that seven of its nine justices were nominated by loyal generals in the GOP prior to Bush's election. Replacing two Republican nominees with two Republican nominees will suffice to maintain the status quo, which is precisely what the GOP most desires. If abortion were made illegal, the Republicans would no longer have a carrot with which to dangle in front of the docile pro-lifers, Evangelicals being a subset thereof.
In short, while the Evangelicals have been influential in recent elections, and though they may continue to be for some time in the future, they seem to have little luck in achieving anything tangible in their ostensible capture of the GOP. The party hopes that they remain unaware of this obvious fact.
Many liberals have a tendency to speak down to the religious, especially those who take Paul's condemnation of homosexuality to heart, oppose abortion as per Moses' command, and believe that private charity, and not government, should take care of the plight of the poor. But a survey of history—Augustine, Aquinas, Lewis, Newton—should demonstrate that not all religious are mindless cretins.
Yet some apparently are, as the Evangelicals show no signs of abandoning the Republican beast which has brought them nothing over the last several decades. Then again, the irreligious left isn't very sharp either. Believing that the Evangelicals are a real threat to the American way of life is bit like bemoaning Jefferson's thoughts on the Declaration of Independence. And yes, that famous deist did speak of the importance of the Separation of Church and State; but he was in the minority on that one. The America of 1776 was distinctly and markedly Christian. Should the Evangelicals succeed—they won't—we will return to an older, and, dare I say better America.
The secularization of America is a recent phenomenon; the Evangelicals can but hope to restore the institutions degraded and destroyed by liberalism, first and foremost by the courts. They have barely a prayer, but the divide between the religious right and the secular left is actually good for both parties. Liberal fears of a theocracy and conservative fears over secularization ensures we all bow to the supreme god of democracy. Irrational and stupid belief isn't confined to Evangelical Christians.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
I hope you enjoy the past more than those who had to live through it did. The hardest moral position is tolerance and compassion and the Church struggled at least as hard as any organized body with those.The limits it places on discourse define the parameters of its power, and as you have noticed, power tends towards concentration.
As always, I hearken to the honorable Mr. G. K. Chesterton to make my reply. In a brilliant essay titled Why I Am Catholic, he explains:
Nine out of ten of what we call new ideas are simply old mistakes. The Catholic Church has for one of her chief duties that of preventing people from making those old mistakes; from making them over and over again forever, as people always do if they are left to themselves. The truth about the Catholic attitude towards heresy, or as some would say, towards liberty, can best be expressed perhaps by the metaphor of a map. The Catholic Church carries a sort of map of the mind which looks like the map of a maze, but which is in fact a guide to the maze. It has been compiled from knowledge which, even considered as human knowledge, is quite without any human parallel.
There is no other case of one continuous intelligent institution that has been thinking about thinking for two thousand years. Its experience naturally covers nearly all experiences; and especially nearly all errors. The result is a map in which all the blind alleys and bad roads are clearly marked, all the ways that have been shown to be worthless by the best of all evidence: the evidence of those who have gone down them.I don't expect Troutsky to agree that the Church has accurately marked off all the bad roads for the simple reason that he marches proudly down the road of Socialism, which a certain Pope Leo marked as bad. But I do believe that the Church marks off all the bad roads, and does so without error.
This may seem fantastic. The whole of my political philosophy is based on the fact that human beings err constantly, and are hapless in correcting their mistakes. Meanwhile, I claim that the Church, itself comprised of human beings, does not err. It is not so much a paradox as a startling contradiction. If human beings are not to be trusted in government, why should they be trusted with something far more important, indeed, the most important thing of all: truth?
I could now explain the concept of apostolic succession. I could quote the passage where Jesus confers the power to bind and loose upon the twelve. I could cite the passage where Christ changes Simon's name to Peter and founds His Church upon that rock, promising that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Or I could confess, honestly, that the fidelity of the Church to the truth is something of a miracle, and attempting to explain the issue without consorting with the spiritual is futile.
But I think the best proof of the Church's role as guardian of truth is in her rich history. Time and again, she has set herself up against the world, only to be vindicated by the world at a later date. This isn't to say that Church members haven't made war on truth, or that individual philosophers haven't gotten things wrong, but the Church herself has not and does not err.
I know this typifies what Flannery O'Connor called "Catholic smugness". I see no escape from it. I paint the picture as I see it. A man who cares for truth can do no better than to learn from the Church. The bad roads only lead to bedlam; but all good roads lead right to Rome.
The guttural screaming of one Jason Wisdom were not, I think, meant to apply to the process whereby a Republican presidential attempts to secure the nomination. Nevertheless, McCain is doing precisely that.
Republican presidential candidate John McCain, looking to improve his standing with the party's conservative voters, said Sunday the court decision that legalized abortion should be overturned.
"I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned," the Arizona senator told about 800 people in South Carolina, one of the early voting states.
McCain also vowed that if elected, he would appoint judges who "strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States and do not legislate from the bench."Words are just that, but McCain is surprisingly honest for a politician, and I think there is some sincerity in his statement. Sometimes I think I overstate the importance of the abortion issue in the minds of the electorate. There are certainly those, who, like my dear mother, vote on the abortion issue alone. But the GOP has yet to nominate an openly pro-choice candidate. Should they choose to break precedent, it will be glorious to watch as right-wing pundits try to explain the difference between their man and the much-loathed Hillary Clinton.
The race to the right has begun. McCain for fall-guy in '08?
Update: Drudge links to a 1999 story titled McCain Makes Conflicting Statements on Abortion:
Senator John McCain (R-Az.), a leading contender for the Republican nomination for President, said on August 19, "Certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe vs. Wade," the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand.
After NRLC and others voiced sharp objections, McCain shifted his ground somewhat, saying that if elected President, he would "work toward" the overturning of Roe. But McCain's "clarifying" statements have been murky, and have raised more questions than they answered.
This will probably all be forgotten within the month. After all, it's not as if Guiliani or Romney is going to be able to criticize McCain for his wishy-washy stance on abortion since they also share it. Looks like in 2008 pro-lifers are going to be almost as screwed as the dead babies they're trying to save.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Until [the twentieth] century, men lived close enough to reality and had a strong enough awareness of God's presence, supported by age-old religious traditions passed down through intact, close-knit families and thereby shaping the thought of almost every child, to reject the worst of these perversions. But in this twentieth century after Christ, insulated from the harsher rigors of life by the advance of science and technology, made arrogant by the vast increase in human knowledge and power over matter, given opportunity to shape millions of young minds by mass media of communication and the universal public school system, intellectuals have sought with chilling success to create a world apart from God in which all values are plastic, molded by them. The majority of them have been satisfied to work at this only by propaganda and indoctrination and cultural influence. The minority who wanted to do it by force were the makers of the Communist Revolution.
Thus spake Warren Carrol, Catholic historian.
Somewhat recently, I commented that Amynda from Pandagon, former blogger for the Edwards campaign until she "resigned" days into her brand new job, sees everything though her fog-filled feminist glasses. And so she does. One could argue similarly that Carroll and myself see everything through Catholic glasses--fill in your own alliterative adjectives. I do not deny this. Catholicism is more than simply a religion, it is a philosophy. And a philosophy forms one's whole world-view.
This is not to say that I don't ever disagree with a fellow Catholic for the simple reason that even among orthodox Catholics there is often diversity of opinion concerning a number of topics. Certain items can no longer be debated since the Church has declared doctrine on certain matters. For instance, Catholics cannot squabble over the nature of Christ, defined, so long ago, as being fully human and yet fully divine. But there are all kinds of other topics which Catholics are free to--and often do--squabble over.
My points are two. First, barring insanity or total skepticism, it is utterly impossible to avoid viewing the world through certain glasses, which is only to say a certain way. If I say rape is morally acceptable one day and reprehensible the next, I am probably insane; in any event, my opinion, being wholly arbitrary, is wholly irrelevant. If I say that I don't know whether rape is acceptable--I would have to add that I do not know whether rape, or even the participants therein, exist at all--I am playing the skeptic. Consistent, it nonetheless provides no place for judgment because it never makes one.
Alternatively, one may use one's philosophy, implicitly perhaps, to determine the moral value of rape. This philosophy will also form one's opinion concerning a smörgåsbord of other, far more divisive, topics. But as soon as one takes a stand, one risks the possibility of being wrong. It follows, then, that the best philosophy is the one which most closely adheres to truth in all situations; the adherent thereto will find his conscience perfectly formed, and, acting thereon will be the most noble and just of all men. And no, I didn't steal any of these ideas from The Symposium; Plato stole them from me, the anachronistic bastard.
I cannot quite prove that Catholicism provides the best philosophy which man has to offer, though I certainly believe this to be the case. However, when one looks at the world which man tried to create on the ruins of Christendom, it cannot be argued that the moderns have stumbled on an improvement.
The solution to the dilemma does not lie in the not-so-distant-future. If the people of this century are to escape the fate of the last, we must turn to things forgotten. We must turn to the past.
The careful observer will note that I found the time to blog on Valentine's Day some years ago. Though I cannot claim to have been influenced by the hallmark holiday, I think it proper to remark that a certain ex-girlfriend was the first person to compliment and encourage my ability to write. We have since gone our separate ways, and I for one have endured, joyfully and bitterly, twenty-one years of Valentine Days by my lonesome. Yet I have her to thank, at least in part, for this little experiment of mine.
Without further ado, I present today's column:
"I would like to say we're at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.” - Ellen Goodman.
My biggest problem with those who, like Ellen Goodman, play at Henny Penny when it comes to global warming is their absolute smugness. They are oh-so-smart for declaring that the globe is a-warming. Those of us beset with cynicism concerning the latest chic political cause are, apparently, best compared to Holocaust deniers.
But it is impossible to deny the future, because it doesn't really exist—at least not yet. I am fairly certain that I will have class tomorrow, but I cannot, in good conscience compare a man who doubts me to one who stubbornly resists the plainly presented historical facts. Any number of things could happen which could prevent me from having class. For instance, a nuclear explosion could devastate all of Houghton, not only ending class, but my life as well. On the less extreme end of things, my professor could simply cancel class. Agnosticism in regards to the future is the natural attitude of man; like the fabled Irishman, we would all of us prefer to prophesy after the event.
This is not to say that the earth is not warming any more than I will not have class on the morrow. Nor does this imply that the earth has not gradually warmed over the last several decades. The scientists who study these things tell me that earth has been getting hotter, just as the historians tell me that the Holocaust happened. Being ignorant on the subject of climatology, and having read only second hand accounts of the Holocaust, I accept the conclusions of experts. Average temperatures on the globe are rising and millions of Jews and other undesirables were killed by the National Socialists of Germany.
But the fact that global warming has occurred does not mean that said warming has been necessarily caused by human beings. And this is the mistake the Goodman types always make. It is entirely possible that the temperature of the globe is utterly beyond our control. And although it is merely a silly prediction to suggest as much, I think it likely that this is the case. For global warming is hardly a new thing. As Dr. David Deming of the University of Oklahoma explained to the U.S. Senate:
I received an astonishing email from a major researcher in the area of climate change. He said, "We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period."
The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was a time of unusually warm weather that began around 1000 AD and persisted until a cold period known as the "Little Ice Age" took hold in the 14th century. Warmer climate brought a remarkable flowering of prosperity, knowledge, and art to Europe during the High Middle Ages.
The existence of the MWP had been recognized in the scientific literature for decades. But now it was a major embarrassment to those maintaining that the 20th century warming was truly anomalous. It had to be "gotten rid of."
Obviously, the serfs of the High Middle Ages could do nothing to warm a globe. In other words, Mother Earth warms, and cools herself irrespective of the silly little actions of petty humans on a massive planet. But more importantly, civilization did not crumble despite the warming. When she fails to note this, Goodman enters the realm of Holocaust denier. For the MWP is scientifically established fact.
The earth may continue to warm, and it may not, but if history means anything, we're participants in a ride not necessarily of our choosing. We may as well relax and try to enjoy it.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
An Afghan goes down fighting...
In a land where every man who could possibly afford (or steal) a firearm went armed, and prized weapons were handed down from grandfather to father to son, there were men who faced the Red Army in 1980 with Lee-Enfield rifles taken from the bodies of British soldiers Afghans had slain on the battlefield of Maiwand in 1880--and others who only had the flintlock muskets taken from Indian armies in the 1780'...
It was a medieval economy against a super-power, a war that the world said could not be won; but still they won it...
Speaking in 1985 before a group that included [Carroll], Zabihullah Mojadedi said, "A seriously disabled Afghan resistance fighter is one who can no longer move, see. or talk."
And so on and so forth. Islam means "submission" but those that submit in full to Allah seldom care to submit to the shackles of less noble leadership. The one seemingly unconquerable heresy with which the Church has been faced throughout the centuries has been Islam. I know of no solution to extirpate the fanatical militarism with which Islam is inexorably tied, but I can't help but regret that those who have sought to make the Iraqis and Afghanis submit to the American god of freedom are learning too late what many have learned before.
It's not as if the indefatigable nature of the Islamic fighter hasn't been well documented throughout history.
Romney makes it clear that if he's not a Reagan conservative, he's going to pretend to be one:
There are some who believe that America's strength comes from government – that challenges call for bigger government, for more regulation of our lives and livelihood, and for more protection and isolation from competition that comes from open markets.
That is the path that has been taken by much of Europe. It is called the welfare state. It has led to high unemployment and anemic job growth. It is not the path to prosperity and leadership.
I believe the American people are the source of our strength. They always have been. They always will be. The American people: hard working, educated, innovative, ready to sacrifice for family and country, patriotic, seeking opportunity above dependence, God-fearing, free American people. When we need to call on the strength of America, we should strengthen the American people, not the American government!
This, coupled with some strong words against the terrorists, should help him rise in the polls. I'll never vote for him, of course, but if the Republicans are going to stand half a chance, they need to nominate someone who's at least nominally conservative. Romney fits that bill. (Oh how our definition of conservative changes!)
I don't think he'll win the nomination, but he should placate the base into sticking around to vote for whoever becomes ordained to play the fall man for Hillary. We have two years to follow this nonsense, even though the result is all but set in stone; barring a scandal on the left, the right is going to need someone to talk about. Again, Romney fits that bill.
Personally, I'm holding out for massive scandal. Sorry, but I need something interesting to write about.
But I wrote about global warming for this week's column anyway. My mind thus attuned, I was struck by Vox Day's observation on the matter:
Global warming is a political and ideological battle, it isn't a scientific one. The fact that there are scientists arrayed as weapons on both sides doesn't make it science.
We need someone who cares enough about climatology to study this whole global warming phenomenon accurately and extensively. I call not it. I do, however, call maintaining my skepticism towards the prospect of humans being the impetus behind all the warming, and continuing to drive my Buick--when it's not buried in three feet of snow.
The increasing rigid way in which our character is compartmentalized has me irked. Oh, I know, nothing new under the sun and all that, but my little hobby consists in pointing out what I believe to be trends. Human history is comprised, for the most part, of one bad idea triumphing over another; when someone finally does come up with some new truth, usually a forgotten old one, it is either ignored, misrepresented, or poked and prodded until its usefulness is nearly nil.
But back to character, or the supposed manifestation thereof. We humans, we Americans, are busy, oh so busy. Gandhi once said “There is more to life than just increasing its speed.” Americans would actually tend to agree as it is also important to accumulate endless supplies of mostly worthless junk. This Americanism epitomizes what Soren Kierkegaard would call the aesthetic lifestyle. In Either/Or, he explains, “Boredom is the root of all evil. Strange that boredom, in itself so staid and stolid, should have such power to set in motion.” To escape the evil of boredom, we rush and rush, and buy and buy. Kierkegaard concludes that this lifestyle eventually ends in despair, but willful and purposeful participants in the aesthetic lifestyle do not, as a rule, read much Kierkegaard.
Everyone reacts, in spectacular knee-jerk fashion, to the thought that they may be participants in something so trite as perpetual consumerism on speed. But pervasive societal traits must be the mark of a substantial portion of the citizenry or comments thereon would be utterly irrelevant. Nor do I claim for myself a life entirely free of the Kierkegaardian aesthetic. As Chesterton once observed, “we lose our bearings entirely by speaking of the "lower classes" when we mean humanity minus ourselves.” Count me in with the lower classes.
The problems with consumerism are many and well known. Because it is my column, I choose to concentrate on one: the degradation of character as marked by humanity's slouch toward a materialist viewpoint. Buying and selling things is not bad per se; but there is far more to life than the acquisition of mere things. Communism failed for many reasons, but even had it triumphed ushering in a utopia wherein everyone had all one needed—a curious employment of the term, given the insatiable human appetite—the utopia would have been a failure. One is reminded of Edward Bellamy's idyllic tome “Looking Backward”. I had to pause reading time and again to prevent myself from screaming—or laughing. The characters of the novels had all they wanted, all they could have, and had to work but little for it. And, evidently, they were happy. The poor saps.
The author of Ecclesiastes, very likely the wise and wealthy king Solomon knew better. He had tasted of all that the earth had to offer, and still he despaired. “I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity... And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labor: and this was my portion of all my labor. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.” The despair of the aesthete is present in the Hebrew scriptures centuries before Kierkegaard. Bellamy's characters ought to have looked further backward.
Yet even before it leads to despair, aestheticism leads to shallowness. The character of the purebred consumer is one bereft, not only of virtue, but also of any real vice. It is pitiable because it is human, but it seems indicative of little more than animal instincts on autopilot. It is almost too dispassionate to be of any great evil.
As consumers, we now categorize our personalities, and that of our “friends” by these trite instincts. The best examples come from Facebook and Myspace; we match interests in things so important as movies and television shows, to favorite bands and special groups, in order to make “friends”. These friends we may never meet, never talk to face-to-face, but we know they because they like the same things as we do. How wonderful.
I do not propose that we scrap either Facebook or Myspace entirely. They, like any other tools, have their uses. Nor is it problematic to look for common interests. All ladies with an affection for Chesterton are encouraged to befriend me. But human character is not only made up of interests, even those so prescient as an adoration for a forgotten British author. Instead, it is made up of intangible characteristics, flaws and merits, which can neither be measured nor posted on a web-page. Chesterton makes a delightful topic for an evening, and even for a lifetime, but he would be the last to suggest that he would satisfy the soul. Humans are funny creatures, and we best not forget that there is likely more here than meets the eye—and which money cannot buy.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
One of the quickest ways to discredit someone is to brand them as a Nazi. The charge is rarely ever based in something vaguely resembling fact. After all, the Thousand Year Reich fell some nine-hundred years short of Hitler's expectations, and there have been, as yet, no attempts to revive Nazism's cold corpse.
My favorite flagrant use of the Nazi epithet is in its application to Muslim “extremists”. Feeling that the term “Islamofascist”is insufficient to convince those of us who keep forgetting that we are fighting for the very existence of western civilization—or something—one of the conservatives came up with the term “Islamonazi”. For if Fascists are bad, Nazis are worse. Of course, few know what Fascism is, and though many are just as ignorant of the character of Nazism, Islamonazi is more digestible for the cretins to whom the conservatives are so busy preaching.
Until recently, it was liberals who flung “Fascist” and “Nazi” around gratuitously. Whether out of eagerness to divorce themselves from their ideological bedmates or simply to slander political opponents, those deemed too conservative could fall, headlong, into Fascism or Nazism. Or so the theory went. The conservatives are now taking the words back. But as long time conservative Rush Limbaugh once titled a chapter in a book, words mean things. What then does the term Fascist mean?
Benito Mussolini, himself a fascist, should know best. His program demanded five political, six societal, three military, and three financial reforms. I will concentrate only on those which seem to be strangely at odds with Islam. (My thanks to Vox Day for his translation from the original Italian.)
Fascism calls for universal suffrage. It should be eye-opening to feminists that Mussolini believed that giving women the right to vote would help him bring fascism about. Assuming the “Islamofascists” cared for democracy, I highly doubt they would be so stupid as to give women the right to vote. But then again, they are not really fascists.
Mussolini also hoped for “The seizure of all the possessions of the religious congregations and the abolition of all the bishoprics, which constitute an enormous liability on the Nation and on the privileges of the poor.” It is preposterous to believe that Islamofascists would directly attack religion, that which they rely upon, not only for philosophy, but for their very name. Fascism is merely yet another blend of left-wing totalitarianism, for, in the words of Mussolini the system entails: “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.” Fascism has as much in common with Islam as it does with the zone blitz. But what of Nazism?
Also believed to be a case of conservatism gone awry, Nazism is, in fact, blood brother to the most infamous and monstrous of left-wing ideologies: Communism. But don't take my word for it, the Fuhrer himself explains: “I have learned a great deal from Marxism, as I do not hesitate to admit... The whole of National Socialism is based on it. Look at the workers' sports clubs, the industrial cells, the mass demonstrations, the propaganda leaflets written especially for the comprehension of the masses; all these new methods of political struggle are essentially Marxist in origin. All I had to do is take over these methods and adapt them to our purpose.”
Warren Carroll, the author of The Rise and Fall of the Communist Revolution explains further. “In July 1933 [Hitler] decreed that the Nazi Party would be the only legal party in Russia. The Nazis taught that all morality was subjective and determined by political considerations, just as Lenin did...” Islamonazis do not believe that morality is subjective; they believe all melts before the all-powerful will of Allah. Nazism and Communism, in their revolution against authority, are antithetical to all religions based on objective truth. I seem to recall Afghani Muslims fighting, and winning, against the Soviet Union. Unlike Eastern Europe, Asia, South America, and the Balkans, Islamic nations were impervious to Communism's dark march.
It may be pointed out that Nazis and Islamowhatevers both hate Jews. But we already have a term for Jew haters; anti-Semite works nicely. What sets a Nazi apart from an ordinary anti-Semite, and also from an Islamowhatever, is his adherence to National Socialism, the tenants of which are completely incompatible with the principles laid out in the Koran.
But why should we let facts get in the way? The Nazis killed more than the Fascists, but the Communists killed more than both combined. If we really want the Americans to hate the terrorists, we ought to call them “Islamocommunists”. It is no less accurate than any other term given them thus far. Since Islam has nothing in common with either Fascism or Nazism, comparing Islam to Communism is nothing more than a logical extension of illogic.
We have examined Fascism, Nazism, and Communism. But the commentariat will not ask, and thus they cannot answer, the most important question of all: What is this thing called Islam?
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
In The Everlasting Man, Chesterton writes:
[T]he next best thing to being really inside Christendom is to be really outside it. And a particular point of it is that the popular critics of Christianity are not really outside it. They are on a debatable ground, in every sense of the term. They are doubtful in their very doubts. Their criticism has taken on a curious tone; as of a random and illiterate heckling....But these people have got into an intermediate state, have fallen into an intervening valley from which they can see neither the heights beyond them nor the heights behind. They cannot get out of the penumbra of Christian controversy. They cannot be Christians and they can not leave off being Anti-Christians. Their whole atmosphere is the atmosphere of a reaction: sulks, perversity, petty criticism. They still live in the shadow of the faith and have lost the light of the faith.
Thus we head over to Pandagon where Amanda has gotten things all wrong once again. This is a much older post, but I have never been unfairly slandered as being up with the times. This time, the topic is limbo.
[T]here’s a pragmatic reason that the Vatican might be a little hesistant (sic) to come right out and say that there’s no limbo (definition here, for those who don’t know much about Catholicism) is because the concept is wielded by everyday Catholics to explain where the souls of unborn babies go, which is just an extra way to guilt trip women who have abortions.
This is ludicrous. The objection to abortion is that it is murder. It would still be immoral to abort one's child even if one were certain that the little babe would enter into a life of heavenly bliss. That we are uncertain of the eventual end of the child may add to our discretion, but their is sufficient moral impetus to prevent abortions irrespective of our place in the after-life.
But it’s sort of a balancing act, as far as I can tell, because as most people understand it, unbaptized children go to limbo but when Jesus returns, they all get to go to heaven.
I take it Amanda didn't get too far into the Divine Comedy before giving up. Nor did she bother to read any of Aquinas's philosophy; for Thomism is the basis of much Dantean thought. Virgil, the noble pagan, inhabits limbo; but he is not allowed to enter into heaven, and neither are his fellow residents. The Church, of course, does not know what happens to those children who die unbaptized. The Comedy is brilliant poetry, based on sound Church doctrine, though occasionally it rests on the comparatively weaker foundation of human speculation, albeit that of one of the most brilliant minds to ever live.
The Church's teaching (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1261) on Limbo is as follows:
As regards children who have died without baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God, who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children, which caused him to say, 'Let the children come to me, do not hinder them' [Mark 10:14, cf. 1 Tim. 2:4], allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy baptism.
Anyway, back to Amanda.
So it’s a way to guilt trip women who have abortions without casting god as such an uncruel (sic) monster as to throw souls into hell that never even had a shot at sinning. So that’s limbo: it sucks enough to make women feel guilty about abortion, but it doesn’t suck so much as to run people off.
Amanda just can't seem to see through any but her foggy feminist glasses. It is completely beyond the pale that limbo doesn't really have anything to do with abortion. The teaching originated with Aquinas who attempted to correct the speculation of Augustine who believed that since Scripture made clear that baptism was necessary for Heaven, we had no choice but to accept that unbaptized children went to hell. Aquinas is more of an agnostic on this one, postulating that we just don't know, but we can hope that God's mercy triumphs in these cases, in ways known only to him.
While it is true that infants did not have a shot at sinning--the Church holds seven to be the age of reason; before that, sinning is impossible, though this is a ballpark figure, and some younger than seven may be culpable of sin--they are guilty. Amanda seems to have forgotten that doctrine of Original Sin. No doubt she would chalk up the fact that "all have sinned" and "the wages of sin is death" as an authoritarian God taking out his misogyny on Eve for daring to assert her right to choose to eat the apple.
And, as I mentioned before, the reason women should feel guilty of abortion, and the reason many of them do, is that they realize that they have blood on their hands. Drip drip.
I suspect Pope Ratz will give into the urge eventually to come out and say there’s no limbo and unbaptized babies go straight to hell. He can’t help it; he’s just a dictator like that.
This is a very important point. One of the marks of the Church is her liberality. True, certain opinions cannot be held in good faith, but this is true of any organization. A Democrat cannot oppose gay marriage and believe that abortion is immoral without calling his integrity into question. I disagree, of course, with the marks of Democrats, but I do not fault them for adhering to some sort of creed. The logical full extension of liberality renders the reason for it irrelevant.
The Church believes that God gave man free will. She will tell him how best to use this will, but she will seldom compel him to do so. After all, just 4% of American Catholics adhere to the Church's teaching on birth control; divorce rates are far above what should be acceptable to Roman Catholics. The list goes on and on.
I highly doubt that Amanda cares enough to look closely at the Church; nor does she care to walk away from it. For if she did, she would assuredly realize that it is a dreadfully peculiar thing, unique among the world. And that is the point where the haunting specter of conversion begins.
He finally broke down. As of now, he's merely posted the all but compulsory, "hello blog world" type post, but I think it likely that we'll see some real meat in the days to come. Be sure to check out the WisdomNomad. I promise you he's significantly to the left of me on the political spectrum. For now.
Monday, February 05, 2007
The eccentricities of my engineering compatriots aside, I find it a bit hard to believe that 83% of Republicans would support a candidate who is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, and pro-gun control. I knew many Republicans had left principle behind in their quest to support Bush in his war on terror, but surely more than seventeen lonely percent have not been wholly turned into puppets of Fox News. Alas no.
I can't deal with these people.
In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican. - H. L. Mencken
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Mao's eventual of destroying the family itself was surely reflected in the law of 1950 which required anyone wishing to marry to obtain the consent of the Communist Party, first for the marriage itself, and then for the choice of partner.
He then included a footnote:
It is sometimes denied, even by critical Western commentators, that Mao intended to abolish the family. They have not done their research. He said so himself, in a speech at Chengtu in March 1958: “The family, which emerged in the last period of primitive communism, will in the future be abolished.”
It is not a coincidence that every totalitarian regime disrupts the family. For the nuclear family is the building block of any society. Parents are always the first teachers, and while it is possible to remove the influence of these first teachers, especially if the parents are only casually involved, it is much easier to replace the state as the first teacher.
As I've mentioned before, there are two reasons to home school. First, it is quite simply a better system. Study after study has demonstrated this. Nor should it be surprising given that home-schooling is all but a reductio ad absurdum of the ubiquitous snake oil of reducing the student-teacher ratio. Moreover, most of the time one spends in school is wasted; most of what one learns at school is either trivial or completely unnecessary. Home schooling does a good job of cutting out most of the fluff.
But the second reason is more important. The responsibility to educate one's children belongs to the mother and father of said children. It is not the duty of the state. Certainly the state may, on occasion, and probably by accident, do a decent job; but more often the state works on creating docile little minions for the burgeoning totalitarian regime. Beware the dawning of the all-powerful American State.