Sunday, November 30, 2008

Miscellany

The pastor who is credited with helping get under God into the pledge of allegiance has died. One wonders if we can get rid of it now.

According to this at MSNBC just the appearance of the Obama marriage may restore the Black family. Nothing like a little drivel as the world comes to an end.

Want to know what the Christian life looks like? Listen to this and this by my wonderful pastor, Ryan Fullerton.

The Obama administration is starting to look a bit like Bill Clinton's third term. When the likes of Max Boot and Mona Charen are happy with the foreign policy selections you know it can't be too great. Heck even Rush is happy.

Sigh. The editors of Reason are heralding the "Libertarian Moment":

We are in fact living at the cusp of what should be called the Libertarian Moment, the dawning not of some fabled, clichéd, and loosey-goosey Age of Aquarius but a time of increasingly hyper-individualized, hyper-expanded choice over every aspect of our lives, from 401(k)s to hot and cold running coffee drinks, from life-saving pharmaceuticals to online dating services. This is now a world where it’s more possible than ever to live your life on your own terms; it’s an early rough draft version of the libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick’s glimmering “utopia of utopias.” Due to exponential advances in technology, broad-based increases in wealth, the ongoing networking of the world via trade and culture, and the decline of both state and private institutions of repression, never before has it been easier for more individuals to chart their own course and steer their lives by the stars as they see the sky. If you don’t believe it, ask your gay friends, or simply look who’s running for the White House in 2008.


I actually used to subscribe to Reason during the editorial stint of Virginia Postrel but was always annoyed by the juvenile triumphalism present. Yes, Messrs. Gillespie and Welch are right that it is now easier to get an abortion and a divorce, not to mention practice sodomy free from social or legal censure. And it is true that I can find 300 different varieties of toothpaste at the local mega-mart. God bless the market and "freedom". This garbage makes me long for the principled and prudent anarchism of Murray Rothbard. But Murray isn't acceptable to what he called the "druggie, grifter and low-life" strata of libertarianism. The Reasonites want to see marriage tossed into the dustbin, along with the nation-state and any conception of traditional morality that circumscribes individual liberty. The road to hell is paved with such. Regrettably so is the path to statism. For if all mediating institutions are destroyed than only the state remains to rule over rootless, deracinated individuals. It is also a fact that the sexual liberation extolled by Gillespie leads to tyranny because guilty men are more easily ruled. Moreover a society that permits youth to be "sexually free" inevitably produces a primitive culture as J.D. Unwin showed in his study Sex and Culture. Unwin found that those cultures where virginity prior to marriage and chastity after are the norm produce high levels of intelligence, culture and science. "In human records there is no case of an absolutely monogamous society failing to display great energy."

Friday, November 28, 2008

Evil Party Meets Stupid Party

The late Samuel T. Francis once lamented that Americans don't have two ideologically distinct parties. Rather we have an evil party (the "liberals") and a stupid party (the "conservatives"). Occasionally there is a synthesis of evil and stupidity. This is otherwise known as "bipartisanship".

To see the confluence of evil and stupidity at work, check out these remarks by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in an interview with the Detroit Free Press:

Q: With more Democrats in the Senate and the House and a Democrat in the White House, how do you see congressional efforts playing out on such issues as health care and immigration?

A: On immigration, there's been an agreement between (President-elect Barack) Obama and (Arizona Republican Sen. John) McCain to move forward on that. ... We'll do that. We have to get this economy stuff figured out first, so I think we'll have a shot at doing something on health care in the next Congress for sure.

Q: Will there be as much of a fight on immigration as last time?

A: We've got McCain and we've got a few others. I don't expect much of a fight at all. Now health care is going to be difficult. That's a very complicated issue. We debated at great length immigration. People understand the issues very well. We have not debated health care, so that's going to take a lot more time to do


Reid practically promises that health care will go nowhere, ironic given that it was a centerpiece of the Obama campaign. But perhaps we will get mass amnesty, a real crowd pleaser supported only by cheap labor whores at the Business Roundtable, professional mulitculturalist ambulance chasers and Democrat operatives who see amnesty as a means of registering millions of new voters dependent on the state.

Conservatives are in bad shape. In the mid-1970's the Democrats had a tighter hold on Congress but the GOP had a charismatic spokesman in Ronald Reagan and a host of issues moving in their direction, particularly the tax question which became a staple of Republican campaigns for twenty-five years.

The tax issue has lost its salience but no well-spoken and serious Republican has discussed immigration since the Buchanan campaigns of the 1990's. If wayward members of the Stupid Party team up with the Left to pass "comprehensive immigration reform", i.e., the legalization of lawlessness, some enterprising politician will have an issue which divides Democrats and could serve as a springboard to bigger and better things.

Marrying immigration restriction to an aggressive trade policy and America First foreign policy has the potential to create a populist backlash which if properly controlled could threaten the neocon/neolib apple cart.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Lawless Christianity is Christless

Here is a question about California's Prop 8 initiative put to Michael Horton, professor of apologetics at Westminster west, in a discussion of his new book, Christless Christianity:

San Francisco, Calif.: Last week at my Catholic church in northern California, numerous people got up and walked out when the pastor urged the congregation to vote for Proposition 8 during his sermon.

If you think there should be one, where should the line be drawn today between church and state on issues like Prop 8 and others?

Rev. Dr. Michael S. Horton: There is a big difference between preaching, teaching, and applying God's Word to God's people and enforcing that Word through specific policy prescriptions. As a minister, I can say that's it's a strange and terrifying thing to step into a pulpit and speak in God's name. It's downright dangerous, not because of the people's judgment but because of God's. Am I really saying what he has told me today, right here in this passage today? Or am I full of hot air? Am I respecting the limited authority he has given me by his Word or am I using it as my own bully-pulpit to vent my opinions?

I am obliged by this Word to teach that marriage is a divine ordinance established between one man and one woman, but I do not believe that I have any divine warrant for binding the consciences of God's people to vote for or against a particular policy regarding the state's proper ordering of the common life of my neighbors. I've discussed this proposition with a number of friends and colleagues and even though we hold the same view of marriage as divinely instituted, there are differences over specific public policies.


Wow, unbelievable. Horton would countenance the wholesale redefinition of marriage in the public square. Horton's distaste for ethics devoid of the law Old Testament leads to a complete disregard for the 7th Commandment.

Horton's thoughts are a long way from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon:

"I long for the day when the precepts of the Christian religion shall be the rule among all classes of men, in all transactions. I often hear it said, ‘Do not bring religion into politics.’ This is precisely where it ought to be brought, and set there in the face of all men as on a candlestick."

The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 27 (London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1882), 225


Seems as though Christianity may be Christless if it ignores His Word: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

HT: Thanks to Bret McAtee, who I shamelessly ripped off.

IOUSA

I went to see IOUSA yesterday. Given that we're in the midst of an economic train-wreck it was a bit dispiriting to see a carefully plotted dissection of the REAL mess that is just up around the bend.

The end of the "investment era" hit me the other day as well when I read this from Gary North:

In the first week of February 1966, the Dow Jones Industrial Average went over 1,000 intra-day and closed at 996. Over the next 16 years, the price index increased by just under three times. See the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Inflation Calculator:

http://GaryNorth.com/snip/706.htm

The Dow fell by over 200 points, to 777. The combined loss was a staggering 80%.

Let's bring this up to date. The Dow closed on November 20 at 7,552. Prices have increased since 1966 by a factor of 6.7 to one. The Dow is 7.5 times higher than in 1966. Taxes aside and dividends aside and commissions aside (there were no no-load funds in 1966), your investment of $1,000 in 1966 would have reaped a profit of $6,500. But prices are 6.7 times higher.

You would be behind.

That is what an investor, age 23 in 1966, would have to show for his faith in the U.S. stock market. He is now 65.

So much for the "buy an index fund of U.S. stocks and hold until retirement."

What retirement?


Though I suspect North's numbers focus on a peak at one end and a trough at the other it nevertheless demonstrates the power of inflation.

We'll soon find out all about inflation if the Fed and Treasury keep pumping liquidity into the market. On top of the $700 billion bailout passed by Congress, and the coming "stimulus" from the Obamaites, a new $800 billion dollar lending program was announced a few days ago. Here is the first terrifying paragraph from the NY Times reporting: "The Federal Reserve and the Treasury announced $800 billion in new lending programs on Tuesday, sending a message that they would print as much money as needed to revive the nation’s crippled banking system."

Given our current plight I'd hoped the local muliplex would be swarming with folks heading to watch IOUSA. As it turned out a friend and I were the only viewers. I guess everyone else was watching "Bolt", "Twilight" or the latest James Bond flick. Well I guess we get what we deserve. Sooner or later we will have to pay for our sins of covetousness.

But as public service you can watch a 30-minute version here. Enjoy, or perhaps weep.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Give the Gift of Abortion This Holiday Season

Planned Parenthood of Indiana is offering up gift certificates, redeemable at its 35 "health centers" throughout the state. Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like giving that woman in your life a coupon to kill her baby.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

On Praying For Our Leaders

Scripture is clear that Christians have certain obligations to the civil magistrate. Their office and authority are to be honored. "Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king" says St. Peter.

Second, we must pay our taxes (Rom. 13:6-7, Mt. 22:15-21) and obey their legitimate and lawful commands (Rom. 13:5, Titus 3:1). Finally we are to pray for our civil leadership. "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness" (I Tim. 2:1-2)

Over at Baptist Press, Curt Iles writes that he learned to pray for presidents and other earthly political leaders from his grandfather:

My maternal grandfather, Sidney Plott, taught me to pray for our president. In all of my years of memory -- from President Dwight Eisenhower to the end of George H.W. Bush's term -- he always prayed for the president. At every meal, he sincerely asked God's blessings and guidance on "Our President." It didn't matter who occupied the White House, "Grandpa Sid" believed Scripture mandated prayer and respect (Romans 13:1), and he faithfully prayed it until the very day of his death.


Yet this text like Romans 13 has been distorted. Here Paul is commanding believers to intercede on behalf of Caesar. It is Christians who are a royal priesthood crying out to God on behalf of The Man. In the Roman era intercession was a royal prerogative. In short the claim made by Christians was seen as sedition in the eyes of Rome.

Moreover, Paul’s intent is not that we pray "Bless the president, congress, governor, and EEOC flunky." It is typically the case that magistrates need an understanding of justice, which necessitates a right view of man, sin and God. In short, rather than some nebulous “blessing” they may very well need conversion or even judgment.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Python on YouTube

Monty Python has a YouTube channel. Here is the "Killer Rabbit" and below is the "Black Knight". When I was younger, and evidently not concerned about blasphemy, I appreciated "The Life of Brian".

Who is Sovereign?

Richard Land has written a column criticizing gay marriage advocates who are petitioning the California Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution to define marriage.


Land rests his argument on the alleged sovereignty of the people and even goes on to quote that great sage, St. Abraham. You know that whole “of the people, by the people, for the people” stuff. Here is a snippet of the essay:

A majority of Californians have exercised that right and have amended their constitution to define marriage with great specificity and precision as being only between a man and a woman -- no same-sex marriage and no polygamy. If the California Supreme Court were now to attempt to nullify what the people have chosen to do through an expression of their sovereign will, they will have attempted to usurp the sovereignty of government "of the people, by the people and for the people" and to replace it with government "of the judges, by the judges and for the judges."


If the California Supreme Court does not acknowledge its obligation to submit its collective judgment to a constitutional amendment passed by the people, then the democratic freedom reserved to the sovereignty of the people will have perished in California.

But what is sovereignty? According to Webster’s it is the "supreme power especially over a body politic." The word itself derives from the Latin super, meaning above. Thus the sovereign is one who is above all. Land is saying that the voice of the people is the highest authority. But ultimately the sovereign source of the law is the god of a nation. Vox populi vox deus, Dr. Land?


In a democracy people believe that supreme power comes through the people and is incarnated in the state. But sovereignty in fact belongs only to God and is delegated to man, who is given authority in various spheres. A Christian social order knows nothing of ultimate human sovereignty and the word itself is conspicuously missing from our founding documents. In Christendom the state is but one form of “government” among many. Indeed government should primarily mean self-government under God. Likewise the family, school, church and various associations are free to govern themselves.


The effect of “popular sovereignty” is the undermining of all these mediating institutions between the individual and the state. When power is centralized in “the people” the power and legitimate authority of the family and church are undermined. The result being that a democratic state ultimately wars on institutions and demands uniformity. As a consequence other entities such as businesses increase in size and scope leading to the further centralizing of other spheres as men seek to protect themselves from the state. Tacqueville puts it this way: “As private person become more powerless by becoming more equal, they can effect noting in manufactures without combination: but the government naturally seeks to place these combinations under its control.”


We shouldn’t oppose gay marriage because the people say so, for they may not be saying so for long. It is God who through His Word gives meaning and definition to all of life. It is He who is sovereign. And His Word defines marriage as a union between a man and woman (Genesis 2:24; Malachi 2:15; Matthew 19:5) for the mutual support of husband and wife, to yield the gift of children and spread the dominion of his kingdom (Genesis 2:18; Genesis 1:28). Hence gay marriage is unnatural and a misnomer whatever the whims of “the people” or black-robed tyrants.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Don't Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out

David Frum, a giant boil on the ass of the American body politic, has been sent packing from National Review. Of course the parting is “amicable” says the Frumster, who follows Chris Buckley out the door. It’s like Kristallnacht over at NR with frauleine Lopez and commissar Lowry wielding a might axe (assuming Lowry can pick it up) and putting together an oversized enemies list, if I’m not mixing a wide ranging array of political metaphors.

Frum was purged for second guessing the selection of Sarah Palin for VP. I also saw him whining on CSPAN recently about the GOPs inability to corral the yuppie vote. Frum’s suggestion to get votes of Upper Westsiders in the GOP column is to forget about abortion, learn to love gay marriage, and cease talking about taxes. Obviously Mr. “Axis of Evil” has no problem with belligerent militarism given his worshipful paean to George Bush, not to mention another screed with the noxious neocon Richard Perle. And yet it is the buffoonery of Bush’s invade-the-world arrogance that has turned off educated voters and the electorate generally.

It is interesting that Frum’s crime was his modest critique of the vacuous Palin. Back in 2003 Frum attempted to purge the paleocons by accusing them of anti-semitism and conspiracy mongering. Among the targets were Tom Fleming, Sam Francis, Lew Rockwell, Pat Buchanan and even Bob Novak. Yet nary a peep was uttered by Trotskyites cross-dressing as conservatives. Slander has always been a weapon of choice for the neocon set.

In his 1994 book, “Dead Right” Frum even tried tag Fleming, Francis, Buchanan and even Murray Rothbard as statists!

So what does this about the once venerable National Review? Who cares. I picked up my first issue of NR as a college freshman in search of an essay by Ernest Van Den Haag. I was immediately transfixed by the writing of John O’Sullivan, Joe Sobran and, yes, Bill Buckley. I subscribed to NR for a decade. Things took a turn in the late 1990’s when O’Sullivan and Peter Brimelow were purged. Writers like Steve Sailer were no longer welcome, either. O’Sullivan was replaced by Rich Lowry, a man who has never written a memorable word. Joe Sobran was thrown under the bus along with Pat Buchanan. The straw that broke the camel's back was the trashing of Buchanan leading up the 2000 election. Buchanan, a giant in contemporary life, was slandered on all sides by a collection of pygmies.

So lets celebrate the end of Frum's run at NR, though don't hold your breath that he'll go back to Canada. But we can hope that his influence is diminished. And while we're at it, lets mutter an imprecatory Psalm directed toward those purveyors of Buckleyism at National Review.

Watching the Meltdown

Paul Volker says we're in trouble:

"What this crisis reveals is a broken financial system like no other in my lifetime. Normal monetary policy is not able to get money flowing. The trouble is that, even with all this [government] protection, the market is not moving again. The only other time we have seen the US economy drop as suddenly as this was when the Carter administration imposed credit controls, which was artificial."


Just for kicks I was looking at some historic S&P data. I was interested because much of my future retirement is tied to funds that broadly track that index. In any case, eleven years ago when I took a job as a knowledge worker in the burgeoning global economy the S&P stood at 848. Today it closed at 806. What was that about investing for the long term?