Monday, February 24, 2014

Libertarianism at war with itself

Libertarianism is, in an odd sort of way, like communism. Both look good on paper, yet neither is practical.

You don't think so? Well, what about these concerns:

For libertarianism to sustain itself, it would require a guaranteed, eternal majority. This will not happen or, at best, it will only happen during short runs. People, being people, will use their free will and shoot libertarianism out of the sky.

It might work with an iron first under a benevolent dictator. But there are two problems with that. One, we see how that has worked for communism, and two, that also would rely on an eternal march of benevolent dictators. That won't happen either, and, further, would actually mock libertarianism.

Then there's the business of freedom. Libertarians preach it with an almost religious fervor. It's their end-all be-all. But 'I'm for freedom' isn't really a tenable position. It begs an entire litany of questions, not the least of which are questions like, freedom to do what, freedom to be what, and whether what we want are things we ought to want. Libertarians forget, or refuse to accept, that freedom is only a means. It is not an end. That is, unless you want total, complete freedom to do absolutely anything you want. To be sure, they don't believe that. They believe there are some limitations on human behavior. But note that that means they aren't actually in favor of freedom anyway because they do, when it suits them, restrict it.

Next there's the matter of how they might get their agenda in place. In the United States today that cannot happen except through revolution or politics. Yet they abhor politics and politicians, and even should they approve of a revolution (which would be dangerous as such things tend towards going out of control) and perhaps a contradiction within their philosophy. How can you force people to become libertarians against their will? You can't, outside of confessing that freedom is not without bounds. Unless, again, and we love hammering this point home, you don't believe in unfettered liberty.

At the end of the day, libertarian philosophy contradicts itself. We believe that is evident in the above comments. You simply cannot preach freedom as an end and then argue that it can be restricted in any way, shape, or form.

They sound good and they look good. Yet all they do is bang an empty drum.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Michael Sam is a hypocrite

Michael Sam has come out as gay. He also wants to be a professional football player. Could the two be related?

When he was interviewed during the NFL Combine in Indianapolis he insisted that he wanted to be know as Michael Sam, football player, and not Michael Sam, gay football player. Well then, Mr. Sam, why did you come out?

Unless he's supremely stupid, he had to know that each side of the gay rights issue would use him. Those against homosexual rights would view him as a pariah while those who supported him would use him to advance their cause. This leads to a very interesting question: is he in fact the one using the gay rights movement for himself?

He wants to be known as a football player yet showed up for interviews during the Combine wearing a 'Stand with Sam' lapel pin. It wasn't exactly subtle.

You know what we think? We think he's using gay rights as a way of improving his chances of playing in the NFL. He's effectively encouraging any given NFL team to become a part of history in picking him for their roster. Yet if all he wanted to prove was that he could be a professional football player, if that was truly at the front of his mind, he wouldn't have said anything until he was successfully on a team. He would have become a football player first, if that's really what he wanted.

Whether you're for or against gay rights, this is hypocrisy. That doesn't matter to conservatives, who know liberal hypocrisy well. But it should matter to the gay rights crusade, who ought not like being used as a tool by a man intent on making big money at their expense.

Alas, as we have said before, the left wants what they want because they want it. There doesn't have to rhyme nor rhythm. If Michael Sam wants to mock them on his way to riches, let him. Gay rights supporters still get what they want: an openly gay player in a he-man sport. All will be well in their little selfish and self serving world.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Dictating from the White House

President Barack Obama has leapt into action. He has issued executive orders and executive actions requiring tougher fuel efficiency standards for trucks. strengthening the U.S. patent system, and signed an executive order intended to speed up the process for approving import or export cargo. He will do other things, he promises, to bypass an uncooperative Congress. Mr Obama has also dallied with the minimum wage.

Shades of Obamacare. When the President doesn't get what he wants, he pulls whatever lever he can to get it, democracy be damned.

Defenders of the Chief Executive say that it's simply to get some movement on key issues, and that they're small measures anyway. They won't effect many. We will even add to his defense ourselves by allowing that other Presidents have issued executive orders when they felt a need, and that Mr. Obama was freely elected. He's doing nothing save serving the folks who put him in office.

Well, and we probably shouldn't go for the easy pitch here, Hitler was democratically elected. Did he have the best interests of the German people in mind? Beyond that admittedly (hopefully) extreme hyperbole, when a President seems to be getting nothing done because of Congress, and that Congress (elected more directly by the people than he was and representing a broader electorate) then it strikes us that the people don't want what he's offering. Seeing as Obamacare is decidedly unpopular, we are left to wonder whether a president who really had the will of the people in mind would have magnanimously went along with its repeal. Yet he forced that through with parliamentary gamesmanship, and now threatens extensive use of the executive order.

This is not leadership. It is however dictatorial. Small issues can become large rather quickly, and a power once used is easy to expand. If the President gets comfortable with this plan of action, it is not difficult to imagine him becoming emboldened and expanding his orders into other areas. Yes, we're arguing the slippery slope. Yes, we know that Barack Obama has issued fewer executive orders than many other Presidents, including his predecessor. But seeing as our current Chief has demonstrated a willingness to do whatever he wishes for whatever he wants, his actions are disconcerting.

This is not a President. This is a community organizer bossing everyone around. How do you like them apples, comrade?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Presidents Day 2014

Today is Presidents Day. We are expected to celebrate our Presidents, even the ones who weren't that good or memorable. And we do that at the expense of the ones who truly do merit a certain reverence. Washington, Lincoln: you guys are as good as Millard Fillmore or James Buchanan.

To be fair, the official holiday is still known, at the federal level, as Washington's Birthday. That is how it should be. The importance of General Washington to our history simply cannot be overstated; it is widely held by historians that we would not have survived as a nation without his leadership. His demeanor, the respect he commanded: he was the one person Americans would unite under, and they did.

It is not fair to his memory that we are now expected to think of all the men who served as President. Many of then simply don't merit the recognition no matter what they may have sacrificed in gaining the office. It is not fair either that the Monday Holiday Law bounces Washington's Birthday around for the sake of convenience. Further, it is not fair that such days are marked more by sales, weekend trips, and days off work more than for what the holiday is supposed to represent: a reflection on important even ts and figures in our history.

Try doing that, instead of or before whatever else you want to do today. Think about what Washington means to our being here this day. Read a passage about him, even if it's simply on Wikipedia. Take a second and look at a dollar bill or a quarter and reflect on why we would put the image of an old general on our coinage. Remember while you do that that our ability to do all the things we take readily for granted are only so because of the work and sacrifice of men like our first President, and be even for the moment grateful.

Then go ahead and do what you like. We suspect that the General himself would approve of it.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Secularizing religion

Today is Valentine's Day. It was once St. Valentine's Day. But as with all secularized religious holidays, we have to drop the saint in order to be politically correct. And, of course, to use it for commercial purposes.

What we have here is another instance of the broader society wanting to ignore religion while still wishing to use it for its will. It is a rather galling practice, yet one we simply cannot around that these days and, to be fair, isn't necessarily wrong. Still, we find it aggravating and just a bit insulting that Christians are expected to leave their religious attitudes at the door while allowing them to be used for economic gain when secularists want it. Further, and this surely applies even outside of religious considerations, we wonder why anyone ought to let society dictate when they should show generosity and kindness to their loved ones. Shouldn't we be doing that all the time?

Of course, and, again, to be fair, no one is discouraging that. We simply don't like the dual attitude towards religious belief which Christmas, Easter, and now lesser days such as Valetine's now display. It is as though society feels that it can use religion when and as it wants to, but wants to stifle religious sentiment when it runs counter to what the people want.

We don't like it. It is disrespectful and that's that.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Catholics, the homosexuals, and the numinous

The cause of homosexual rights is apparently a winning one. When so much of the world can be more upset of the idea that Vladimir Putin is against them rather than the fact that he is a corrupt leader of a populous and far more dangerous nation on too many other fronts, then we see that the writing is on the wall. When the words of Pope Francis are misconstrued by the media to indicate that the Catholic Church is softening its stance on the moral imperatives behind the question, we are further left to concede the overall point a practical reality. But will it stop at that?

It has become routine to call those against homosexual rights 'bigots'. While we will not pretend to speak for the likes of Mr. Putin we will deign to speak for Catholics. We will ask the question, 'Are Catholics bigots?'

We will now answer it: no. Catholic theology is quite clear on this matter, as it is on all other moral questions: hate the sin but love the sinner. What this should translate into (we readily recognize, human error being at work, that this will not often enough be the case) is that a serious Catholic should pray for a change within such persons and, with Christian charity, try to explain to them why they ought not do what they do. On a more decidedly political front, it means actively opposing homosexual marriage. Can these things make Catholics bigots?

Well, is it bigotry to attempt to see your deepest values put into law, should they be of a nature that a law in necessary? After all, the idea that theft is wrong surely transcends individual religious sentiment to the point of the numinous, the point where any thinking person must see that it is wrong at a far higher level than simple human opinion? On a similarly grand scale, is it bigotry to want the very best for your peers even should they not themselves believe you are right? Can wanting the very best for everyone for the very best reasons be bigotry?

The most important objection which can be raised here is the question of where and when (if ever) can we attempt to force beliefs on others? Of course, we can make such attempts under the right circumstances. Even though, free will being present, some folks will nonetheless steal, we in fact outlaw theft. Yet we suspect the retort to this with regard to homosexual rights would be that they aren't hurting anyone. This is only true, however, if we accept that persons cannot hurt themselves by their actions.

Yet they can. If we have any sense of the numinous it surely occurs to us that there is no question of morality, personal or societal, which is entirely up to us. Perhaps that old pagan Socrates might help here: the unexamined life is not worth living. That indicates, from a somewhat irreligious source, that we ought to question even our own motives and desires when we wish to do whatever it is we wish to do.

That's what Catholicism wants us to do: examine our lives, examine ourselves, and ask the really difficult questions, the ones which transcend any given action we might take. We must ask ourselves, of anything, is it right to do this?

If that is bigotry, the simple and straightforward reminder that we must look inward and question our motives, even those motives we may be born with, then call it bigotry if you like. But do us one favor, please. Ask yourself if it is bigotry to favor the self over the numinous.

Friday, February 7, 2014

That Racist Fried Chicken

We have to apologize for food? Really?

A school district in California is under assault for intending to serve its minions fried chicken, cornbread, and watermelon for lunches this month. The school was serving this in honor of Black History Month. The joke is obvious.

Yes, we get it. We also get that many of us eat fried chicken, cornbread, and watermelon all the time. What's wrong that?

Have we reached the point where we actually politicize what we eat?

Just askin'.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ham on Nye

The Ham on Nye evolutionary/creationist debate is over. We don't know who won, and we don't care. If we may ourselves take a vague stance on such an unknown we will borrow from the evolutionist Dr. Jerry Coyne of the University of Chicago: any such debates are 'pointless and counterproductive'.

He's right, of course, but not for the reasons he or the other evolutionary scientists believe. Their ilk simply don't want to give Intelligent Design the time of day; it would give its supporters, they fear, scientific respectability. That's why Nye was debating a strict creationist rather than a Intelligent Designer anyway. Strict creation is the evolutionist straw man used against any idea that a Creator is behind creation.

Having said that, it strikes us that anyone all that secure in what they believed would have no trouble swatting gnats. But the actual issue here really isn't anything like a science versus religion debate. That's what all too many scientists espouse, and for good reason. It keeps them tied up in the world of nothing except physical facts. It places them squarely in the realm of empiricism. That's fine, too, with empirical works. Yet what empiricists rarely care to consider is the question of what other kinds of truth exist. Empirical evidence is the proper hallmark of science. It is also, when you get down to it, the lowest type of knowledge.

You can say all you want about cold hard facts, but at the end of the day it's the philosophic questions which we may or not be able to answer which matter more than the raw data. And all scientific knowledge, if it is purely empirical, is little more than so much data. At best, science can only teach us the how of things. It can't tell us one single thing about the why. Why things are as they are is far more critical to our well being than the how.

While debates such as Ham on Nye may offer entertainment it is doubtful they can produce any useful conclusions. The reason for that is twofold: for the one, a strict accounting of Genesis is adhered to while the other relies, or pretends to rely, on rote science. Yet creation and science seen rightly are not quite so adversarial as either the rabid evolutionists or strict creationists believe. That's why we the details or the outcome of last night's little tiff is entirely meaningless. It is all, both sides, smoke and mirrors.