Arimathea
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Philosophy
All wisdom begins in wonder, and this delight kindles a desire for truth that leads us on a quest for the really real -- the source of being itself. Hence, the philosophical impulse, albeit often manifested in atheistic and irreverent stumblings in the dark of human ignorance, begins and ultimately ends in theology -- communicating and communing with our origin and goal. We men are rational animals who seek to know. We are agents of truth who want correct answers to questions that we must ask. From the noblest objects of contemplation to the seemingly insignificant everyday trivialities of life, we attempt to unravel perplexing knots. Limited, blind, and distracted, we nevertheless struggle for wisdom. This is our lot, and it is also our glory.
Wednesday, December 15, A.D. 2010
Incest: Test Case for Liberalism

Yesterday, Auster commented on the move in Switzerland to decriminalize incest: “Switzerland is considering repealing incest laws, as ‘obsolete.’” My favorite View from the Right commentator, Kristor, wrote:

The thing is, liberalism offers no basis for any prohibition, except one: Thou shalt not make pejorative judgments. Which is a recipe for complete moral paralysis, and blindness (meaning that no one can really put liberalism into practice; unless you decide, you can’t do anything at all); and therefore for suicide. Incest is a great test case, at which most people will balk. But that just means incest is now where homosexuality was 40 years ago, when both were equally disgusting to normal minds. Yet incest is nothing in comparison to what is already accepted, or gaining acceptance. We see already that there is no judgment in liberalism against murderers—they are just “reaching out,” because they are “down on their luck,” so we should not condemn them. But even murder is nothing. How could a consistent liberal object to a religion that enjoined child sacrifice upon its adherents? Only by recourse to a set of illiberal moral standards. Let’s face it, if partial birth abortion is just fine, what could possibly be ruled out? If it is OK to kill babies who are sticking out of their mothers, what can we really say is not OK?

It’s funny, in a mordant way: infanticide is perfectly OK, but incandescent light bulbs are very wicked. How sick is that? I am overcome with horror, all of a sudden, and rage. Nominalism is demonic. I’m totally convinced.

Of course, he is right.

The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.
O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!
Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.
Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.

Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told you.
For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not their’s.
They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves.
Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat.
They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the east wind, and they shall gather the captivity as the sand.
And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them: they shall deride every strong hold; for they shall heap dust, and take it.
Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god.

Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.
Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?
And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them?
They take up all of them with the angle, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag: therefore they rejoice and are glad.
Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous.
Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations?

Today, by chance or providence, is the feast day of the prophet Habakkuk on the old calendar (December 2). For we live in habakkukan times.

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, December 15, Anno Domini 2010
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Tuesday, December 14, A.D. 2010
Sexual Assault at the Airport

I first wrote of the repulsive new security regime at American airports in a March post, “American Mandarins.” The T.S.A. goon squad continues and even worsens its inane and totally un-American police state policies, and the masses simply bend over. We Americans no longer deserve sovereignty, and thus the bureaucratic maggots have taken it from us. A manly population would rebel and demand that our so called republican government respect its citizens’ dignity. De Maistre was right.

I have written politicians, airports, and airline companies. I even cancelled my Christmas flight, which I booked before they were using the new machines at my BWI terminal. I shall no longer fly from a molestation airport. Here is a copy of the letter that I sent to Cincinnati’s airport management last month:

I am writing you today to complain about the TSA scanners. Though the issue has become newsworthy lately as more and more people experience the TSA’s invasion of their personal space, I wrote to politicians and to the DHS when the new policies were first announced. Since then, I have had to undergo the new procedures myself, and I am furious that Americans are being put through it. I frequently fly between Cincinnati and DC; so, the issue is very relevant to me.

I appreciate the need for airline security, but I find the new scanning system to be an outrageous disregard of citizens’ privacy. If Israel—an obvious target for the terrorists—does not force people to suffer naked scans and groping sessions, then the USA does not have to do so, either. It is a false dichotomy to claim that TSA must execute the new procedures or else our planes are at risk. The new security regime defies our American values and our people’s human dignity.

I first “opted out” of the nude scanner in May at CVG, when I first encountered it. The TSA personnel were rude, and they tried to make me as uncomfortable as possible—to teach me a lesson, I suppose. One of the workers lectured me about how I was somehow insensitive to the victims of 9/11 because I objected to the scanners, which offended me greatly.

I decided that I would never fly from CVG again. Since then, I have flown from DAY about ten times. The extra hour in driving is inconvenient, but at least I can avoid the totalitarian security measures at CVG. I imagine that the TSA is eager to install the new scanners at DAY and at the other alternatives. Then, I will not fly at all. I suspect that many fellow Americans are deciding the same.

Of course, you must obey the government, too. However, I hope that enough people complain and boycott the airline industry so that the far more influential organizations of airports and airlines will start to protest, too. Politicians listen when it comes to money and power. I suspect that the companies that sell the scanners are pressing Congress not to get involved.

Well, I want them to hear other voices, and I hope that CVG will pass along my frustration and disgust. Then, I hopefully will be able to use my own city’s airport again.

Where is the American love of liberty? Coulter noted on a television show that I saw last month that only seven percent of Americans have flown more than four times in the last year. I think that I have flown about twenty-four times. So, the “large majority” that supposedly thinks nothing of police state pornography and sexual assault is not experiencing it. Still, the news reports show countless folks who just shrug and say platitudes about safety. Were they unsafe for the past nine years when the T.S.A. was not groping innocent citizens’ genitalia? Will they remain unsafe in the future, as the porno-grope regime cannot detect internally stored explosives?

Let us just cut to the chase and admit that the only way to keep the terrorists from being able to blow up a plane with absolute certainty is not to have planes fly. President Reagan (p.b.u.h.) famously said that we could have ended the Cold War in one day and ensured international peace. How? Surrender. Yet, he did not think that absolutely guaranteed peace was worth the price of enslavement to Communism. Everything that we do involves risk. We can reduce and manage those risks, and the decisions that we make have certain costs. I think that the humiliation and debasement of a free people in the interest of a security regime that can be circumvented by our enemies is not worth it. The Mohammedan terrorists who wish to harm Western peoples can exploit whatever weakness they see in our “wall.” They can wear prosthetics that hide explosives. They can plant bombs inside their bodies. They plan to die, anyways. So, we can frustrate their efforts, but we cannot always stop them.

A security system that targeted people from the Dar al-Islam would focus our resources intelligently. For the extremely rare Johnny Jihadi white boy convert to Mohammedanism, intelligence lists and behavior analysis would likely work. I read a story several months ago about an Irish woman who had married or was enamored with an Arab. She was going to participate in a terror plot, but Israeli behavior and interview analysts figured out that the Celtic lass had become a traitor. Yet, Erin McDonoughs and Brian Millers mujahideen are almost nonexistent. We hear of each case because they are so novel and bizarre. Al-Qaeda has hundreds of millions of sympathetic Mohammedans who wax enthusiastic about killing Jews and Christians. They are not going to waste a Western convert catch on a cheap suicide mission. Such folks are far too valuable as potential moles and fifth column coordinators.

Yet, do we expect that hideous pornographic troll that commands the totalitarian sounding Department of Homeland Security to follow such sensible advice? No. The Mohammedan threat is a nice crisis to exploit to establish further a police state wherein the technocrats and bureaucrats train a docile population to do its bidding. Bush, Obama, McCain—what difference does an election make when only Leftists run? It is only a matter of how bad, or how apparent, the abuse of the American people will be. We have become American Mandarins, indeed.

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, December 14, Anno Domini 2010
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Saturday, December 11, A.D. 2010
Hating the Rich

William Voegeli has an interesting essay in Commentary on why the Left’s class warfare rhetoric does not go over well in the States: “Americans Don’t Hate the Rich.” After Bernie Sanders’ hours long tirade in the Senate yesterday, you might think differently, but fortunately the ideological orientation of Vermonters is something of an outlier. It is a shame that those Green Mountain gringos have such kooky political ideas; they are otherwise quite charming.

What Voegeli does not really address is the issue of justice. Conservatives seem to have ceded the moral high ground on taxation to the Left. I certainly will not give the redistributers an inch. The confiscatory regime that robs Peter to pay Paul (or as someone once told me, robs Peter to pay John to provide counterproductive services to Paul) is not just—for reasons that I explained in my post “Redistributionism.” I am committed to the classical idea that private property exists for the common good, but the government managed transfer of wealth from one group of citizens to another group of citizens is wicked. If the rich suffer pangs of conscience because of their fortune, let them do as the rich have always done—practice philanthropy. I certainly trust the wealthy to donate their money more responsibly for the sake of the public good than weaselly politicians and the hordes of self interested bureaucrats hungry for more opportunities to slice fatback from the body politic.

Here is an idea that I find objectionable but still far better than the typical statist socialism that we have been somewhat practicing for generations. If we are so concerned about the accumulation of wealth and if we demand that the rich expend more of their income on others, then we could craft a tax policy that requires philanthropy. We could have a flat income tax rate of ten percent, with no loop holes, deductions, or exemptions, which could be coupled with a ten percent sales tax. Dividing the tax scheme between the two would encourage savings more than our current income tax regime but still garner more money from the wealthy by retaining the income tax, albeit at a lower rate. Ridding the tax system of special incentives and exemptions would remove the government from ruining the country more with faddish social policy enforced through the tax code. It would also remove much of the temptation for corruption and special interest lobbying, as every corporate entity wants tax policies that will support its narrow interests.

Such a flat tax would be fair, and poorer Americans would not get a free ride on public services, courtesy of the wealthy. Beyond this, we could still have “progressive” (sic) brackets for income levels that dictate the percentage of one’s income that must be given away to non profit institutions. Therefore, the tax bracket system would look like our current one, but instead of paying taxes to the government, we would be able to donate to charities of our own choice after we fulfill the flat tax obligation that everyone shares equally (as a percentage). Moreover, the government already designates which organizations qualify as non profits, donations to which are tax deductible. If someone is unwilling or unable to donate the required amount, the government would get the money as a normal tax. To please the socialists like Sanders, we could even set the highest bracket at fifty percent of income; to take more than half at the federal level seems quite inappropriate unless severe, extraordinary circumstances demanded it. Of course, I would prefer lower rates, certainly at or lower than whatever economists predict the maximal Laffer Curve rate to be in the current circumstances.

While this tax regime is unfairly confiscatory, it puts the power of redistributionism in the hands of the person from whom the money comes. It is forced charity, but it would retain more of the good qualities of private charity than the welfare state, which engenders an entitlement and resentment personality among beneficiaries. It also keeps the state from gaining influence over people’s lives, thereby significantly reducing the dangers of soft (and not so soft) totalitarianism. If we must have state mandated redistribution of wealth, at least let the wealthy contribute to the common good as they see fit. Imagine how much better a city would be with more parks, art museums, free concerts, and specialized schools than the current ones where public money is continually flushed down the “war on poverty” hole while the public sector unions enrich government employees from the treasury. More cellists and less social workers? Schools that demand excellence? Opportunities for poor boys to learn a trade or pick up useful skills rather than remain captive in an educational environment run by morons and charlatans that purports to bring enlightenment to children with intelligence quotients one to two standard deviations below average? It could happen if we trusted the givers to determine the money flow rather than the politicians and the entrenched bureaucracy.

Posted by Joseph on Saturday, December 11, Anno Domini 2010
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Wednesday, December 8, A.D. 2010
DREAM Act

If you are an American who is concerned about the unraveling of our nation, immediately contact your representative and senators in Congress to urge them to vote no on the “DREAM Act.” I sent the following short, simple letter to my delegation yesterday:

Please vote against the DREAM Act tomorrow. Our immigration system is insane enough, and the United States should not reward the breaking of our laws. Indeed, children cannot answer for their parents’ actions, but some consequences of penalties for crime adversely affect the criminal’s family. A child is not responsible if his father is a thief or embezzler, but the financial situation of the family will suffer if the father is caught. That is sad, but any other system incentivises breaking the law. So, please vote against the DREAM Act that will work as backdoor amnesty; given our immigration rules, every DREAM Act instance of amnesty will bring the person’s entire family “out of the shadows.” Instead of this madness, immigration should be severely curtailed, as it stagnates the wages of the American lower classes and adversely affects the unity of the American people at a time when our society is increasingly less cohesive. Please do not contribute to the ethnic, cultural, and linguistic Balkanization of the nation.

Of course, Congress has not worried about the social cohesion of the American people for decades. Since America’s own cultural revolution, the political elite has incessantly undermined the American people. We may ask why? Some conservatives think that Leftists are simply anti-white and anti-American and wish to destroy all vestiges of traditional American society. That is quite possible. When you consider demons such as Tim Wise (find and read his “Open Letter to the White Right” for a taste of this all too common hernia of the spirit that plagues the pseudo intelligentsia of contemporary American Leftists), no amount of nihilism or hatred should be seen as beyond the pale of the traitorous Left.

There are other possibilities, though. The ever sensible Cassandra Goldman asked if the American people had become obsolete to the puppet masters of the Unites States of America, Inc. I responded thus:

Don’t the rich still need the masses over whom to lord? Perhaps, third world immigration—with the consequent new population that displaces the old one—simply makes it easier for the rich to keep the underlings in place. Or, if we swamp the country with mutually incompatible groups, they will be so busy dealing with interethnic strife that they will tolerate the elite’s abusing everyone else.

Steve Sailer mentioned how ethnic diversity leads to government corruption. People in competing ethnic groups tolerate bad governance and cronyism because they would rather stick by “one of their own” than fail to support him and risk losing influence to another tribe’s top guy . . . along the lines of Johnson’s “at least, he is our son of a bitch.” The elites manage to stay in power by appearing to represent their relative group, while the system truly only benefits the elites.

I think that Sailer might be correct, though it does smack of conspiracy. It is just difficult to accept that the powerful forces are all so committed to such an asinine ideology. Narrow self interest might be repulsive, but at least it is intelligible.

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, December 8, Anno Domini 2010
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Sunday, December 5, A.D. 2010
Random Mutation Generator

I found a funny site called the Random Mutation Generator, which allows you to “Do your own Darwinian Evolution experiments.” The generator randomly mutates text. The default example is the classic, “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” From there, let us see the generator arrive at a line from Shakespeare.

Of course, the Darwinian minded will say that given enough time and instantiations, we should expect to see something coherent come to be. I have always found this argument curious in that it appears to me to be willfully blind to the point of probability. Normally, we concern ourselves with probabilities to indicate not the field of the possible, no matter how unlikely, but rather the probable and likely. Such statistics are informative about the world; they reveal tendencies of how things are and act. The Darwinian approach to probability is different. Instead of considering probabilities, it rather takes a specific outcome—namely, the living world as it is—and argues that it could have come to be so through random changes with only natural selection as the ordering mechanism.

Imagine that every man in New Zealand stood at his door with a coin heads up on his open palm. It is within the bounds of the possible that such a situation followed a random coin toss by all those New Zealanders. There is nothing contradictory therein. However, it would be extremely improbable. A more sensible explanation would be that the New Zealanders agreed to place the coins heads up on their palms, maybe due to some odd Kiwi cultural quirk. Neither explanation involves a contradiction, but only one strikes the normal person as reasonable. Our minds appreciate probability; for the world typically follows predictable patterns.

The Darwinian seems to assess evolution as one who thinks that the New Zealanders had a simultaneous coin toss that resulted in all pieces heads up. For he presumes that order comes from chaos when the extremes of possibility are entertained. Even without criticizing the metaphysical problems with attributing explanatory power to randomness, this presumption defies good sense. Order does not arise from chaos, a chimpanzee pecking at a typewriter is not going to compose Hamlet, and the amazing order that we see in life comes not to be through random mutations. To be fair to the Darwinians, they do offer natural selection as an ordering principle. Yet, natural selection only “works” with the random mutations provided; it does not determine or guide which mutations occur. As such, natural selection as an explanatory principle for the emergence of prevalent traits in particular environments is totally convincing. It makes sense, and it is observable. Given the diversity of a population, it is easy to see how certain traits would be advantageous in certain circumstances. Yet, we must keep in mind the probabilities involved in random mutations occurring at just the right times and places and numbers to explain the evolution of all life, and to me such appears absurd.

Besides acknowledging the creative power of God, I have no idea what forces have driven the evolution of life. In other words, I do not know how the divine creative power manifests in the genealogy of life. Given what little I know of genetic research, I suspect that there is some sort of biological force of which we are still ignorant. Consider the following. Before the discovery of the weak and strong nuclear forces, we could not explain the structural behavior of the atom. The atomic level could not behave as things on the planetary scale in a Newtonian world, with gravity as the determining force, or atoms would not be able to retain their structures given their interactions. Hence, we discovered that other forces are present in matter. Similarly, it seems that another such force may exist that would explain evolution from a “horizontal” perspective. Are we on the edge of witnessing another scientific paradigm shift to one wherein teleology complements mechanism? Dare I say that it is probable?

Posted by Joseph on Sunday, December 5, Anno Domini 2010
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Saturday, December 4, A.D. 2010
Stadler: Was für ein Mensch

N.R.O. featured a video yesterday of a member of Austria’s National Council speaking rather frankly about the Turks. There is hope yet for Europe:

Maybe, Representative-elect Allen West will hearten us Americans in a similar way.

Posted by Joseph on Saturday, December 4, Anno Domini 2010
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Friday, December 3, A.D. 2010
The Shadow Scholar

Andrew sent me a troubling article about a man who writes academic papers—even theses and dissertations—for others for pay: “The Shadow Scholar” from The Chronicle of Higher Education. What does this say about academic standards? Credentialism? The moral integrity of students?

Posted by Joseph on Friday, December 3, Anno Domini 2010
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