Archive for March 10th, 2009

March 10, 2009

Never punk-smack a masochist

The punk will keep coming back for more and, next thing you know, you’ll spend all your time smacking punks instead of providing insightful commentary on current events.

Nevertheless, infamous poofter James B. Webb has demonstrated the validity of Rule 4 (as if its validity were ever in doubt), showing how a wise selection of enemies can increase traffic. Since he first began his auto-beclownment, his traffic has spiked from a pathetic 53 visitors Saturday to 123 yesterday, and as of 5:11 p.m. ET today, he was at an astonishing 101 visitors!
James: Take 12, and blog me in the morning.
UPDATE: I will be out of pocket this evening, consulting clients and researching economic conditions, and have told Frequent Commenter Smitty that, if he wants to provide insightful commentary on current events, now would be a good time to go hog-wild.
So if you’re looking for some Rule 2 action, link us up, e-mail the URL to Smitty and beg for the FMJRA, punks. Remember, today is David Brooks Fisking Day, so you have until midnight to trash that useless idiot with remorseless fury. Trust me, your spleen will thank you.
And if you haven’t hit the tip jar yet, do so now. Blogging this brutal is too good to be free.
March 10, 2009

Evangelical collapse?

(BUMPED; UPDATES BELOW) I linked this in the headlines after seeing it in Hot Air Headlines, but wanted also to discuss Michael Spencer’s Christian Science Monitor article, which includes this point:

We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. Ironically, the billions of dollars we’ve spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. Our young people have deep beliefs about the culture war, but do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology, or the experience of spiritual discipline and community. Coming generations of Christians are going to be monumentally ignorant and unprepared for culture-wide pressures.

Spencer does not mention Julia Duin’s important new book, Quitting Church: Why the Faithful Are Fleeing and What to Do about It, but it seems clear to me — if to no one else — that he’s read it. So I’ll begin by putting a mark against Spencer for failure to acknowledge his source.

There are many sources of the problems that Spencer (and Julia Duin) discuss, and the failure of churches to rigorously teach the Bible to kids is the nut of the whole thing. When I was a kid growing up in the Baptist church, “Sword Drill” was a big event.

“Sword Drill” took its name from Ephesians 6:17, where Christians are commanded to employ “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” So us kids were literally drilled in Bible memorization. I was by no means a good student, but some of it took, and the constant repetition of Bible study engrained in my mind — as I am sure it did with others — a solid core of biblical knowledge. It also developed a mindset that the Bible was an authoritative source.

This was reinforced during the sermons preached by Pastor Marion Beavers. If there are any others out there who grew up in Lithia Springs (Ga.) First Baptist Church back in the ’60s and ’70s, you know that “Preacher Beavers” (which was how he was addressed) was a first-class Bible preacher.

By the term “Bible preacher,” I refer to a sermon style that seems to have faded in the past three decades. The preacher kept the Bible in his hand, or open on the lectern, throughout the sermon. However he organized his sermon, it began with a reference to a specific biblical passage — the Verse of the Day, which was listed in the program — and was further elaborated with references to other verses.

“Turn with me now . . .” was a phrase repeated endlessly during the sermon. The people in the pews were expected to have their own Bibles and, as the preacher proceeded to cite “chapter and verse,” the people would turn the pages to follow his references and read for themselves. So, whatever the preacher’s eloquence contributed to the sermon, the people in the pews could see directly that his preaching was built firmly on a scriptural foundation.

He wasn’t just telling you his opinion, he was preaching the Word of God. The reliance was not on the preacher, but on the Bible, so if you subtracted the preacher from the equation, you still had the Bible to guide you. Bible preaching encouraged an autodidactic attitude in the congregation, so that the believer had a proprietary sensibility toward the Word: “This is my Bible, this is my God, this is my faith.”

The loss of that covenantal idea of mutual belonging — you belonged to God, and God belonged to you, and the Bible was an ironclad contract between you — is at the core of the evangelical decline that Julia Duin describes and which Michael Spencer sees turning into a “collapse” of American evangelicism.

We could talk about many other factors — e.g., the abandonment of the hymnal in favor of pop-rock “praise music” — but the shift away from old-fashioned Bible preaching seems to me the key factor in the waning of vital faith in many churches.

UPDATE: Linked at Memeorandum and Outside the Beltway.

UPDATE II: Linked by Donald Douglas, who notes:

Andrew Sullivan, in particular, has a number of posts up cheering all of this, for example, “The Young and the Godless,” and “A Coming Evangelical Collapse?
Sullivan blames these trends on … wait for it! … “Christianism,” of course.

I’m just waiting for Ace of Spades to take notice of this. Ace has never struck me as a particularly religious man, but if Sully is smiling, Ace is the man to wipe that smile off his face.

UPDATE III: Let me say a word or two in response to the anonymous commenter — the good ones are always anonymous, eh? — who said:

Good idea, get rid of contemporary music and bring in madrassa-style Bible drilling. That will bring in the young folk.

The anonymous idiot is not a parent, and has never studied developmental psychology. Four words: Children flourish under discipline.

If you know nothing else about dealing with children, you should try to understand this. My good teachers, my effective Boy Scout leaders, my winning football coaches, the choir, band and drama directors who knew best how to elicit superior performance — all of these worked with the understanding that discipline has positive value with children.

The failure of “seek-friendly” mega-churches is not an inability to “bring in the young folk,” but their unwillingness to apply discipline. After all, “discipline” and “disciple” are words of more than etymological affinity. You cannot build disciples without discipline. “Seeker-friendly” churches indeed attract youth, but they cannot retain them. They’re dealing Wonder Bread and Velveeta, when what the kids really need is whole wheat and red meat.

(Note: Anyone accusing me of going “crunchy” will be at risk of a punk-smacking.)

March 10, 2009

It’s David Brooks Fisking Day!

“If one does not read enough economic illiteracy from Paul Krugman’s Monday column in the New York Times, there always is David Brook’s Tuesday column, which presents the neo-con (emphasis on ‘con’) view of the world. One must remember that the editorial writers at the Times actually believe that Brooks is a free-market guy.”
Bill Anderson, LewRockwell.com

OK, here he is, the useless idiot who needs no introduction, David Brooks:

Republicans have decided to demand a rigid fiscal straitjacket at the one moment in the past 70 years when it is completely inappropriate. . . .
The G.O.P. leaders have adopted a posture that allows the Democrats to make all the proposals while all the Republicans can say is “no.”
Republicans could offer the public a realistic appraisal of the health of capitalism. Global capitalism is an innovative force, they could argue, but we have been reminded of its shortcomings. When exogenous forces like the rise of China and a flood of easy money hit the global marketplace, they can throw the entire system of out of whack, leading to a cascade of imbalances: higher debt, a grossly enlarged financial sector and unsustainable bubbles.
If the free market party doesn’t offer the public an honest appraisal of capitalism’s weaknesses, the public will never trust it to address them. Power will inevitably slide over to those who believe this crisis is a repudiation of global capitalism as a whole.

Oh, my aching spleen! Where to start? How about a joke?

A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose your job. And a recovery begins when David Brooks loses his job.

The “weaknesses” of capitalism are not what this crisis is about. Economies expand, economies contract. Old businesses go bankrupt, new businesses are launched. “Economic stability” is (a) an impossible Keynesian fantasy that can never be achieved, and (b) arguably a bad thing. We don’t want “stability,” we want dynamism — innovation, creativity, new businesses being launched, new technologies developed, new markets emerging, etc.

What Brooks cannot be made to see is the weaknesses of government — the utter inability of the federal behemoth to competently manage or regulate the economy. To argue that “capitalism’s weaknesses” require government intervention, one must first suppose that there is something useful or helpful that government can actually do that it is not already doing, or that it can do a better job of the job it has done so badly in recent years.

There is no evidence for the Brooksian view. We have no reason to believe that future government interventions will be more competent or effective than previous interventions — It Won’t Work — and we have many reasons to believe that the severity of the current crisis is a direct consequence of misguided interventions in the past.

Brooks is not interested in evidence. He is interested in being thought clever. He knows even less about economics than he knows about politics, and he knows precious little about that. He is a menace, an enemy of common sense and sound policy. He must be fisked!

UPDATE 1 p.m.: He hasn’t been fisked enough yet. Let me reiterate something that cannot be emphasized enough: Being articulate is not the same as being right.

No one can deny that David Brooks is a skillful writer. As a prose stylist, he is excellent. If the New York Times sent him to cover the infield scene at the Talladega 500, Brooks would come back with a brilliant, funny story — and he would come back with fewer teeth, because some redneck would be unable to resist the urge to knock that arrogant smirk off his face.

Brooks is a classic example of The Writerly Delusion: The journalistic belief that one’s aptitude for written articulation is the same thing as being knowledgeable about a subject. A truck driver might not be able to write a coherent narrative of how to drive a truck, but he can in fact drive it. David Brooks can write about economics without actually knowing anything useful about economics.

If Brooks were actually right about anything, his elegant prose would be a weapon on the side of truth. Because what he believes about economics and politics is wrong, however, his eloquence is a force for evil. He must be fisked, fisked brutally, and the fisking must be continued vigorously until he is converted to the cause of truth or shamed into silence.

UPDATE II: Linked by Dave at Point of a Gun, by Jimmie Bise at Sundries Shack and by Dan Riehl at Riehl World Views. Everybody join in and let’s give Brooks the vicious gang-fisking he deserves.

UPDATE III: The question is asked, “What is an appropriate gift for David Brooks Fisking Day?” The answer, of course, is a Rule 2 FMJRA, such as this one from TrogloPundit.

March 10, 2009

Fine-print foreign policy

Washington Post, via Dan Riehl:

Menendez knew that his hard-line approach to Cuba was a minority view within his party, and that it was at odds with Obama’s approach. But he did not expect to discover a significant policy change embedded in the text on an appropriations bill. His policy aides came across the language when the legislation was posted on a congressional Web site.
“The process by which these changes have been forced upon this body is so deeply offensive to me, and so deeply undemocratic, that it puts the omnibus appropriations package in jeopardy, in spite of all the other tremendously important funding that this bill would provide,” the enraged son of Cuban immigrants said last week on the Senate floor. Menendez even slapped a hold on a pair of Obama nominees to draw attention to the issue.

When they start trying to change U.S. foreign policy with the fine print of an appropriations bill, you know the Democrats have developed contempt for the voters, and think they are invulnerable to political challenge in the near term.

March 10, 2009

Tribute to Ted Kennedy

Somebody e-mailed me a link to this:

It comes from a blog, Patum Peperium, which features an idiosyncratic mix of images, including one that can only be called Old School upskirt. I’m just reporting this stuff. As a neutral, objective, professional journalist, I have no opinions.

March 10, 2009

Stephen Gordon sells out

He’s begging for stimulus money:

  • Considering how easy it is to come with $30 billion of other people’s money, I thought I’d try the same approach. Of course, I’m not as greedy as AIG — I only need a million bucks to stimulate the parts of the economy in which I’m interested.

Read the whole thing.

March 10, 2009

Gays. And marriage. And rights.

As an indirect result of my influence — I’m not “influential” in the Ross Douthat sense, but it’s not Easter yet, so I’ll drop it — Donald Douglas gets into a discussion of gay rights and political correctness with Little Mister Loser:

James Webb, of Brainrage, has asked of me repeatedly: “I’m just curious as to your views on gay marriage if one of your own boys wanted the same rights that many gays are now denied by yourself and others of your ilk.”

Now, you can go read the whole thing to get Dr. Douglas’s take on the subject. He should be thankful he’s got tenure, or he’d be fired for dissenting from PC orthodoxy and out here shaking the tip jar with the rest of us blogwhores.

While I claim to speak for no “ilk,” personally, I’m sick and damned tired of the transparent nonsense being peddled as “rights.” Judge Roy Moore got it right: An enormous and venerable corpus of Anglo-American jurisprudence classified homosexual activity as “a crime against nature,” having no legal sanction and certainly not constituting a “right.”

Yet scarcely five years after Lawrence v. Texas overturned Bowers v. Hardwick (a Supreme Court precedent that dated to only 1986) anyone who dares to question the existence of such a “right” is subject to vehement denunciation as a hateful troglodyte. We even have earnest young intellectuals telling us that gay marriage is “conservative,” despite any inkling of such an idea in the writings of Burke, Weaver, Kirk, et al.

A scam is being perpetrated, because too many so-called “conservatives” lack the necessary organs — two eyes, a brain, a spine, and a functioning pair of testicles — to tell the truth, no matter how unpopular the truth may be, or what the consequences of speaking unpopular truth.

Men and women are different. They were created different, designed with a natural complementarity, to fulfill specific life functions. There is a natural order to human life, and marriage between man and woman is part of that order. The legal status of marriage did not create marriage, but is rather a recognition of a pre-existing natural order — an order that was not created by human agency, but by the Creator.

The gay-rights movement would like you to believe that sexual behavior can be divided into two categories: Gay and straight. But according to the Creator, this is a false distinction. God divides sexual behavior into two categories: Righteousness and sin.

Righteous sex is the love between man and wife that creates human life, and which through that God-ordained intimacy knits together the couple in a permanent and exclusive union: “One flesh.”

Everything else — everything else — is sin. And this was once recognized by Anglo-American jurisprudence, which in one way or another imposed sanctions against every type of sexual behavior except between man and wife. But in the decades after World War II, in the name of “modernizing” the legal code, these sanctions were gradually repealed. “Sexual liberation” was the name of the game, divorce skyrocketed and the lawyers cheerfully liberated wives from husbands, liberated husbands from wives, and liberated fees from clients.

If “anything goes” was the prevailing legal spirit of the new order, so that people could hook up, shack up, break up and move on at random — well, in what sense was love between man and wife deserving of any special legal status?

American society stepped off the Solid Rock and onto the shifting sand, and it seems that no one — especially not young punks like our Brainrage blogger — even realizes that the old order ever existed, or what its fundamental principles were. “Conservatives” attempting to defend marriage tend toward citing sociological statistics, as if fundamental principles were a matter of charts and graphs.

To cite the most authoritative source — the Word of God — is to be accused of superstition, or of seeking to “impose your values” on others. But my values (or Dr. Douglas’s values, or anyone else’s values) are irrelevant. What counts is God’s values, and these are not subject to amendment or public opinion polls.

No one today has the courage to stand firmly on biblical truth, without the aid of any other authority or reference. Yet the disorderly debate over gay “rights” we see today is, in its own way, clear proof of the Bible’s authority:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.
I Timothy 4:3 (KJV)

The prophetic nature of the Bible is evidence of its authority, and if anyone wants to tell me that the successive disasters that have fallen on our nation in recent years aren’t just a wee bit apocalyptic in appearance, the Bible can answer that, too: Let him that has eyes, see.

“Straight” people don’t have any special dispensation to screw around willy-nilly and then point the finger of condemnation at gay people. You go into any church on Sunday morning and you know what you will see? Sinners. All of them, sinners. (“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23) The preacher in the pulpit, the soloist in the choir, the blue-haired old lady playing the piano — sinner, sinner, sinner.

There is nothing more ludicrous than a professed Christian pretending to be anything but a wretched sinner, whose only hope of salvation is the unmerited grace of God.

Well, now, you can laugh or you can cry about this. I prefer to laugh, and so I joke around a lot. But sin is a very serious matter, and the worse thing you can do about sin is to pretend that it’s not really sin. Call sin by its right name.

It recurred to memory a couple of hours ago, as I was writing an e-mail to friends, how this whole thing began with me trying to set up Clever S. Logan with Big Sexy. Think about it: There is no law that would forbid them from marrying tomorrow. Indeed, they could have been married many months ago. They have that right. So why aren’t they married?

Beats me. Maybe it has something to do with . . . sin?

It’s late. I’m tired. My beautiful wife is in bed, and I should turn off the computer and join her. I have that right. Too many people with itching ears have heaped to themselves teachers who tell them about their “rights.” They will not endure the sound doctrine that tells them about their sins.

And me? I’m just another sinner, too. Maybe not as bad as I once was, but still bad enough to deserve nothing but destruction. (“Sinners in the hands of an angry God” and all that.)

Still, even when I was hopelessly lost, there’s one thing I know: If I promised a girl I’d get her a box of chocolates, she’d doggone sure get that box of chocolates. What kind of miserable faggot would break a promise like that?

UPDATE: Welcome Cynthia Yockey readers. You might enjoy this response to Miss Yockey. It’s irresistible, isn’t it?

March 10, 2009

Short demonstration of the pathetic inadequacy of Meghan McCain

New York Times Q&A Ann Coulter:

Q: Do you consider yourself as speaking for the conservative movement, or just someone who has attracted many conservative fans? Something else?
A
: I think I speak for all Americans who think newspaper editors who print the details of top-secret anti-terrorist intelligence gathering programs on page one in wartime should be executed for treason.

You know, just when I start to feel a tiny bit guilty over my relentless punk-smacking of David Brooks, here comes Ann to remind me that I haven’t really done enough. Yet.

March 10, 2009

If It Ain’t Broke, Fix Until Paralyzed

by Smitty
Morgan Freeberg is always worth a read. One hopes at some point to hoist a beverage with the fellow. He offers a pair of thoughtful concepts in this post to clear the palate of all the Limbaugh/Steele/Coulter/Meghan business.

Morgan’s First Rule of Government: Life thrives in order but matures toward chaos. Government has a role as long as order and life serve the same purpose; where their paths diverge, government must yield.

Morgan’s Second Rule of Government: Consensus thrives in logic but develops toward nonsense. Government has a role in deriving its policies from consensus, as long as the consensus is rational; when consensus becomes silly, government must remain logical.

These organizational behavior observations recall a bit of Jerry’s wisdom:

Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people:

  • those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and
  • those who work for the organization itself.

Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representative who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.

In the mad haste to expand the government to include the entire population (as an employee or client) sometimes the classic wisdom is overlooked:

John 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

March 10, 2009

How Not to Get a Million Hits On Your Blog, And Not Score With Hotties. Ever.

First, accuse Suzanna Logan of being a homophobe.

Next, try to walk it back when you belatedly realize she’s hot.

Then, jump into her comments like you’re completely obsessed with her.

Finally, do a roundup post, displaying to the world that you’ve spent your entire day making a complete fool of yourself. Oh, and along the way, be sure to call her “sweettits” and include a lame Photoshop of you with her.

When you’re through doing that, go to a Castro Street glory hole, offering up your rump to complete strangers, while bragging that you’ve got more than 25,000 hits on your blog in the past 13 months.

Losers. They’re born that way.

P.S.: How do you know that Suzanna is so intolerant of homosexuals? For all we know, when Suzanna and Moe get together to watch Jason Mattera videos, they drink a few pina coladas, share their feelings of desperate loneliness, break out the digital camcorder . . .

By the way, Little Mister Loser, did you see how Moe body-slammed Megan McCain? Moe also smokes Marlboro Reds. NTTAWWT.

UPDATE: William Jacobson diagnoses a new BRD (Blog-Related Disorder), SiteMeterenFreude:

“deriving pleasure from the failure of other bloggers to generate traffic”

He swears he’ll never succumb to this one, but I needed an outlet for my ailing spleen between David Brooks columns. Since swearing off Douthat-bashing for Lent (and I’m not even Catholic), I find myself easily provoked to punk-smacking. So when this idiot wandered into my crosshairs, he was automatically going to get it like Carlo got it from Sonny Corleone.

What’s making it worse is that my friends are taunting me, egging me on, for the sheer voyeuristic thrill of watching me rip a new one on some unsuspecting victim. My old “friend” Ken Hanner just sent me an e-mail containing precisely one sentence:

Ross Douthat is on Washingtonian Magazine’s list of Most Influential People Under 40.

Yeah. (Grit teeth.) Congratulations, Ross! I’m shaking the tip jar and hustling T-shirts, and you’re so gosh-darn “influential”! I wish you all the best!

God help the next “centrist Republican” idiot who says anything nasty about Rush, Ann or Sarah. The Fierce Populist Ad Hominem Hammer From Hell is ready for ’em, with an aching spleen full of punk-smacking bile.

UPDATE II: You see what happens to a guy when he’s not “influential”? His own minions start plotting against him in the comment field. Watch it, Logan. It’s against my religion to punk-smack a girl, but if you don’t want those Godiva chocolates, maybe Michelle Lee Muccio does.

UPDATE III: A commenter helpfully informs me that bile comes from the liver, not the spleen. OK, so I didn’t major in biology. It’s a blog, not a scientific journal. However, I do know where babies come from.