Monthly Archives: July 2009

Notes from the underground

I’ve been thinking about some things that I have not yet figured out how to articulate in a way I think is sufficient.  That never stopped me before so here goes:

We all know we (I’m speaking to Christians here) don’t believe in Karma.  We talk about grace all the time as a gift that we never earned.  Ask us any question about grace and merit and we know the answers.

My oldest son has grown taller than I am in the last two years.  He was taller than me even when he wasn’t a teenager.  And we (and others) often spontaneously say to him, “Wow, you are tall!”  And he grins and smiles and is obviously proud of it, like it somehow reflects his efforts.  His character.

I’m not blaming him.  He knows better at one level.  But do any of us know better?  Does anyone who is tall or beautiful or smart not believe at some level that they made themselves that way?

Think about the whole cult of “everyone can be whatever they want.”  Who sells that story?  The people who got what they want, who got to be what they want to be.

And what do they tell others?  That anyone can do it.  That everyone has this potential, but they have to do whatever virtuous deeds the successful people have done in order to get there.

But, obviously, it is completely in the interests of those who have power, privilege, possessions to claim that they somehow acheived these things.  Every society in every different economic system has always had people on top and those people have virtually always claimed that this was due to their own virtue.  It is the ultimate self-justification.

But meet someone whose face was scarred as a child or who didn’t have any number of the myriad of advantages of the few… Or meet the many who tried just as hard or harder than the successful yet never found success.  David Boreanz became a famous actor because someone spotted him walking a dog.  Of course, he did move to Hollywood with hopes.  And he did probably many other things beside look good.  But do you think for a minute there are not thousands who did all the same things and got missed?

For everyone who visibly ends up on top, there are a hundred or more who are commensurate in every way who don’t.

And even worse, for all the “normals” out there with their families and there children there are the (hopefully few) haunted marginalized who didn’t make it.  The ones who couldn’t have children and never could adopt.  The one who married a spouse that became deranged in some way and ended the suburban prosperity dream of the partner.

I have never known anyone well, who went through horrible circumstances, who didn’t somehow blame themselves or feel ashamed for what they were going through.  Like for some reason they shouldn’t look others in the eye.  Maybe some never do this, but I haven’t run into such a person.  It becomes an imperative to say, This isn’t your fault. This doesn’t make you worthless.  You didn’t do this to yourself.

Yes, I’m aware that some people destroy themselves.  They do.  Almost always by doing deeds that others are able to get away with somehow.  And how long does someone have to add to their miseries by flagellating themselves for a sin?  What is the point of denying the need to do penance if someone is led to interpret their poverty or bereavement as penance for what they did?

“Was this man born blind because of his sin or his parents’ sin?”

And what do the normals do?  They attribute their normality to themselves.  But it is, humanly speaking, all statistics.  They have no idea what they would be like, what their personalities would be like, the kind of voice they would have when they talked to themselves late on a sleepless night, if God had put diseases, or job loss, or dead children in their path instead of the health and wealth they have.  Not one realizes the person he or she would be.

No one thinks they’re ambitious for expecting the status quo in their lives.  It is only when they have it taken away from them that they suddenly realize that they are.  No one thinks his posture toward life,  his self-confidence in what he does, his self-respect, is something that could have been obliterated long ago.  And they wonder why other people don’t have that.  And figure that their lack must be the reason they haven’t achieved more.  Reversing cause and effect is the chief strategy for inventing a theory of karma.

The entire situation produces the Leftisms of the world.  Because if the status quo is such a right, then those left out of it, must have been robbed.  And so a theory of injustice is invented. The myth of free market utopia creates the myth of communist justice.

What happens if I am put into normalcy again?  Do I forget everything I’ve learned?  Seems likely since I still don’t think I know how to explain what I’ve learned.  God help me.


Sat in a restaurant last night for the first time in a long time. But it felt different than many times before. Sitting there chitchatting with wife and kids, It finally dawned on me: I wasn’t feeling stressed. For the first time in a much longer time, I didn’t feel bad about the money. I could afford to enjoy this. I don’t have to do that often. But it felt so relaxing. I can’t remember last time that happened.

God, in your mercy, make this last. Make it grow.

Thinking of Jephthah’s exile

Rich people’s crimes – from bribery, to fraud, to falsification, to plagiarism, to financial chicanery – always find defenders who will tell you there’s nothing really so bad about them.

But let some kid in the ghetto pinch a trinket from a store on Christmas eve, then the same people will thunder on about antisocial behavior, mobs, the sanctity of public property and everything else.

Read the rest at Rich People’s Thefts | LILA RAJIVA: The Mind-Body Politic.

The next governor will know better than to become a player in the lower 48

First, expect fewer ethics complaints. Some Alaskans made a cause out of filing complaints against Gov. Palin and then trumpeting them for all who would listen — a violation of state law. Several of those complaints had merit. Most squandered time, money and trust in the public process. It’s unlikely Gov. Parnell will be the kind of lightning rod for obsessive attacks that Gov. Palin was.

via Our view: Palin out, Parnell up: ADN Editorial |

Palin as Governor

Palin came to office with some specific goals, some of which she has accomplished outright, others which she has advanced appreciably along the spectrum from inception to completion. The Petroleum Profits Tax revisions were passed in time to help Alaskans reap unprecedented financial gains from our most marketable natural resource, and also in the wake of an ethics scandal that caused some Alaskans to doubt the fundamental integrity of state government.

Read the rest: Palin was successful in her time as governor – Juneau Empire.

I think Libs have convinced themselves that if Palin doesn’t believe in human-caused global warming, it must be true.

“Yes, she manages to write about the climate change action in Congress without ever mentioning the reason we are doing this in the first place,” Mr. Kerry wrote. “It’s like complaining about the cost of repairing a roof without factoring in the leaks destroying your home.”

via Kerry Spars With Palin Over Climate – Green Inc. Blog –

Because it isn’t true, Kerry.  Palin’s silence is less significant than your refusing to mention you want the world to to be forced into permanant third-world poverty in order to get the average global temperature in 2050 to (maybe and, in my opinion, unlikely) get half a degree lower.

Let the courts go where they wish

I haven’t been tracking anything because it bores me, largely for the reasons mentioned below.  This statement struck me as pretty insightful.

Sotomayor is not going to rend the fabric of the nation. That´s already been done. She´ll probably go along in that muddled way that passes for being a ‘thoughtful´justice.

And that´s as it should be.

I´m all for a period of doing what´s been done. And if the only conservation going on is the conservation of liberal achievements, then so be it. Continuity is still a good thing. The settled law of the land is still the settled law of the land.  We´ve suffered from enough revolution- through- the- courts for me to believe that conservatives should adopt the same judicial activisim in turn.

Libertarians sometimes like to talk about radical capitalism. But to me, capitalism isn´t radical in its essence. It´s conservative. What it conserves is time. The frequent observation that capitalism ¨speeds” up time (you´ll find it in much modern political theory) is true enough at one level. But at another level, capitalism is backward-looking, not just forward looking. It concretizes our past actions, preserves them.

There are many libertarians who like to call  themselves radicals, but I´m not one of them. I like to call myself a tory-bohemian. A traditionalist as to forms. An agnostic and skeptic as to substance.

This makes me fond of style…convention.  Style is not everything, but it´s more than the left realizes. Style is our conversation with the past.

The past is important to me. Very important. And the kind of capitalism that uproots the past and overturns everything in its path is only one face of capitalism — it´s corporatism, gigantism – the out growth of state intervention.

I like to think that  without massive state intervention, capitalism would emerge as something entirely different.

To return to Sotomayor. The court´s been political for decades. Pretending this is something new and not to be tolerated is simply silly. Let the courts go where they wish.

Pat Buchanan gained nothing by opposing Sotomayor for being an activist. I saw him debate Rachel Maddow on her show,  and Maddow cleverly limited her argument to repeating that 108 out of 110 Supreme Court justices had been white males. She knew that one fact was enough.

And she´s right. Demographics have changed, and the court is expected to reflect demographics. Buchanan argued that justices are supposed to be picked for their mastery of legal analysis.  But anyone who´s read case law knows how convoluted the arguments are.  They´re mostly political…and sophistical. And often bogus.

So, arguing for some kind of mastery of bogus ¨legal science¨ isn´t nearly as effective as arguing for what the population wants. And Rachel Maddow is a smart cookie who knows how to argue effectively. It´s as simple as that.

Conservatives would do better to focus on society and forget the court

Read the whole post here.

Translations that don’t work for the law-gospel dichotomists

Isaiah 2.2-3:

It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the Lord
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be lifted up above the hills;
and all the nations shall flow to it,
3 and many peoples shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go the covenant or works demanding that one earn glorification through perfect perpetual obedience,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.