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It depends on whose morality is being offended

by Greg Krehbiel on 1 September 2015

Why is it that when Eric Holder refused to do his job and defend The Defense of Marriage Act, he was being a principled public servant and was following his conscience, but when a Kentucky clerk refuses to issue same-sex marriage licenses, she needs to be stopped because she is a dangerous threat to the rule of law?

Constitutionally it should be the opposite. Religious beliefs have to be accommodated. Social opinions do not.

And why are allegedly conservative presidential candidates so willing to surrender on this?

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-09-01  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Will the pope’s mercy encourage more abortions?

by Greg Krehbiel on 1 September 2015

We all know about the conflict between moral standards and forgiveness. If everybody were to take a radical “who am I to judge?” position, nobody would feel any social pressure to do what’s right. On the other hand, if we all shunned everyone who committed an offense, none of us would have any friends.

Individuals need to find a balance between the two, but so do parents, organizations, and society in general.

One part of “tough love” is letting a person feel the consequences of their stupid decisions. This is what the oracle says on the subject: “[G]enuinely concerned parents refusing to support their drug-addicted child financially until he or she enters drug rehabilitation would be said to be practicing tough love.”

But what if there are lots of merciful, forgiving people out there who are willing to ease the pain for the drug-addicted child? E.g., places to sleep and to get meals and such — in a “non-judging” environment. It takes the edge off the toughness of the tough love, and basically makes the parent into an uncaring “judgmental” person. (Which is one of the worst sins in the modern catechism of morality.)

In that case, one person’s attempt to be merciful is ruining another person’s attempt to be loving.

A big part of the problem with navigating this issue is the conflict between a toughness that prevents the mistake in the first place (e.g., “if I do this my Dad will kill me!”) and a toughness that keeps the sinner away. You want there to be a path back to good standing, but you can’t make it too hard. Or too easy.

There’s no perfect way to draw that line.

The pope is wrestling with this issue with divorced and remarried Catholics, and with women who have had abortions. Apparently (you can never be sure based on media reports) he intends to loosen the rules on who can forgive a woman who has had an abortion.

The way things stand right now, getting an abortion is an automatic excommunication, and it’s a hard road to get back into the good graces of the church. (Update: A reliable priest who is a friend of mine says priests in the U.S. have been able for decades to grant forgiveness and remove the excommunication.) Will loosening the rules for forgiveness help — that is, will it bring more people to repentance and reconciliation — or will it hurt — that is, make people have less fear of the consequences of their actions?

I don’t know. Part of the question would be whether the threat of automatic excommunication is having any effect now. I tend to doubt it.

I doubt it because the church has been through this before. There used to be pretty strict penances for particular sins. In order to make sure one priest wasn’t letting people off easy, while the priest in the next town was handing out strict penances, there were “canonical penitentials” the priests were supposed to follow. I.e., this sin required this penance.

The Christians in earlier centuries were made of tough stuff and were willing to undergo some pretty severe penances to get back into communion with the church. (Remember Henry IV standing in the snow for days.) Later, as people balked at such strict rules, the church allowed alternatives to the canonical penance, which became Martin Luther’s favorite, indulgences.

IOW, the church lightened the path back to communion because the old rules weren’t working any more. Rather than wearing a hair shirt for a month, you could put 20 ducats in the poor box as an “indulgence.”

Nowadays Catholics are pretty much powder puffs. The penances from the 50s would probably be too much for a generation raised on instant everything and constant entertainment. People don’t even observe the relatively light fasting regimens of the modern church.

So, is the pope right to make it easier for these women to come back into communion, or will his actions make people think that abortion isn’t such a big deal anymore? I’m glad I don’t have to make that decision.

-- 4 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-09-01  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Time for Mitt?

by Greg Krehbiel on 31 August 2015

It’s an interesting question, but first we need to see what happens as things settle down in the fall. If Trump and Carson remain on top, and if none of the more “establishment” candidates show any break-out potential, then I think the party might beg Romney to give it a third try.

Will Mitt Romney Jump In?

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-08-31  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Blame the sexual revolution

by Greg Krehbiel on 31 August 2015

This weekend on a CSPAN call-in show I heard a guy complain that campus administrators are hypocrites because, being children of the left, they are in favor of the sexual revolution, but then they get upset when somebody advertises “drop off your freshman for a good time” on a frat house.

Mona Charen makes essentially the same point.

The proper response to the fraternity’s vulgarity is not to condemn men, or “rape culture,” but the sexual revolution itself. The agonies college campuses are now routinely experiencing are the result of a hyper-sexualized culture that has robbed the young of romance, courtesy, privacy, and, yes, love. The feminists call it “rape culture” and blame “traditional masculinity,” but they forget, if they ever knew, that “traditional” men were never encouraged to behave like this. …

College campuses, like the rest of American society today, are struggling to contain the wreckage of the sexual revolution. Neither men nor women are happy with the chaotic and utterly unromantic world they’ve inherited. It’s a culture of drunken hook-ups and “booty calls,” where traditional courtship is dead and even dating is rare. …

The mess on college campuses is part of the larger chaos between men and women that characterizes modern America. This failure is no orphan. It can count among its fathers the sexual revolutionists and the feminists.

-- 3 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-08-31  ::  Greg Krehbiel

The 1%, the middle class, and immigration

by Greg Krehbiel on 31 August 2015

I heard a little of Bernie Sanders on the radio yesterday. He’s concerned that all the new wealth being generated in this country is going to the super rich, and that the middle class aren’t sharing in the country’s prosperity.

If I take his statistics as given — and I’m not sure why I should, since he lies about other things, but … for the sake of argument — it seems that he should be against immigration.

If the super-rich are making all the money because wages are flat, that means we have an oversupply of labor. The solution — or at least part of the solution — is to quit importing cheap workers.

But that’s not what we hear from Sanders or the left in general. All we hear is tax the rich and raise the minimum wage.

I have no objection in principle to taxing the rich more. For example, I don’t see any reason not to raise the limit on wages subject to the payroll tax, and I’m sure there are deductions we could do away with. I’m against the minimum wage for several reasons, which I’ve discussed before.

Still, flooding the labor market with cheap workers is obviously a part of this problem, and the press should be pushing Sanders and others on that side of it. So why doesn’t it come up?

Because they’re all singing from the same hymnal.

-- 2 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-08-31  ::  Greg Krehbiel

“I wouldn’t be a man …”

by Greg Krehbiel on 31 August 2015

If you haven’t listened to Josh Turner, you should. He has a nice voice and sings some very pleasant songs. And they’re the sort of songs you can listen to with your kids. (My kids are grown, but you know what I mean.)

With one of his songs I think he’s taking a bit of a chance. He might offend the PC police and find himself the subject of Internet outrage.

The lyrics go like this.

I wouldn’t be a man if I didn’t feel like this
I wouldn’t be a man if a woman like you
Was anything I could resist
I’d have to be from another planet
Where love doesn’t exist
I wouldn’t be a man if I didn’t feel like this

The clear implication is that people who aren’t attracted to this particular woman are either (1) not men, or (2) from another planet. It’s tempting to wonder how gay men might react to that sort of statement. It’s remarkably insensitive and intolerant, don’t you think?

Actually, no, I don’t think that. The only reason people would take offense at this is because we live in a prickly, always on edge, take offense at everything world.

Men are attracted to women. Deal with it. If there are exceptions to that rule, then there are exceptions. So what?

We’ve moved from “the exception proves the rule” to “the exception is the rule.” We are all constantly under the thumb of the hypersensitive. It has to stop.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-08-31  ::  Greg Krehbiel

ESTJ, but only barely

by Greg Krehbiel on 28 August 2015

I had some time to waste so I took one of those online Myers-Briggs style tests. I got ESTJ. (If you want to take the test, here it is.)

As I’ve mentioned before, these things both interest and annoy me — mostly because of the way I perceive the questions. Very few of them resonate with me, and with most of them I could equally well answer the other way.

For example, “Being adaptable is more important to you than being organized.” Well, it depends on what we’re talking about. Being adaptable is very important for some things, and being organized is very important for other things.

Or how about this one: “Winning a debate is more important to you than making sure no one gets upset.”

Well … when you put it like that ….

IOW, I might naturally tend towards caring about the debate more than the participants, but once you put the question that way, I realize that the people are more important than the issue. So how do I answer a question like that?

I’ve heard too much moralistic advice in my life about the pros and cons of various approaches — and I’ve spent far too much time thinking about those sorts of things — for any of these answers to be as simple as the test wants to make them. I couldn’t even estimate how many times I’ve heard someone say “you can win the argument but lose the person” (or words to that effect).

I’m self-reflective enough to notice which way I naturally bend, but I’ve heard “the other side” so many times, and I’ve spent so much of my adult life trying to correct bad habits, that it’s easy to change, if that’s what’s necessary.

The real reason I took the test is to get ideas for characters. Reading the questions and studying the descriptions of the various poles (judging or perceiving, thinking or feeling, etc.) paints an interesting mental picture of different sorts of folk.

-- 9 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-08-28  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Moral limits on government power?

by Greg Krehbiel on 27 August 2015

To a liberal — and especially to a secular liberal — what this woman said is an outrage.

Liberty Law School Dean: Government Doesn’t Have Authority To Impose Unbiblical Laws

“What?” the liberal thinks. “Condition government power on the Bible? Is she crazy?”

Everybody wants to condition government power on some moral standard. As I think about that, I recall this old document I read once that put it like this.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Where does Mr. Jefferson get off thinking that his moral ideas — e.g., “all men are created equal,” governments derive their “just powers from the consent of the governed,” etc. — take precedence over the rule of His Majesty King George?

IOW, of course government power is subject to moral rules. The only question is what moral rules?

Thomas Jefferson got his moral principles from the Enlightenment. As a Christian school, Liberty University derives its moral rules from the Bible. Is there any difference in principle?

Our modern judiciary regularly overturns laws on the basis of “evolving standards.” Think about same-sex marriage. The Defense of Marriage Act survived constitutional challenges just a couple decades ago, but now it’s unconstitutional.

Did the constitution change? No. What changed is the moral standards that judges read into the constitution.

At least with Liberty University we have some idea of where these moral standards are coming from. With the modern judiciary, they seem to be blowing in the wind.

-- 2 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-08-27  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Kick them out and let the good ones back

by Greg Krehbiel on 26 August 2015

That’s what Trump says he will do with illegal immigrants. And (as Scott Adams points out in his blog post on the subject) that is precisely what Trump did with the Univision reporter.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-08-26  ::  Greg Krehbiel

“His ugly nativism …”

by Greg Krehbiel on 26 August 2015

The on-going freak out over Donald Trump is getting more and more amusing.

Last night Dave and I watched a press conference Trump held in Iowa. A reporter from Univision kept trying to monopolize the questioning, and of course Trump would have none of it. Several other reporters — both during the press conference and in the mandatory analysis afterward — thought that the main story was how Trump dealt with the reporter.

The press is full of narcissists. Everything is about them. They think they are the story, which is why there are so many talking head shows.

The mainstream in both politics and media simply doesn’t know how to handle Trump. He’s like nothing they’ve ever seen before. (Perhaps because he has some testosterone.)

When they find that he’s committed some sin against political correctness, Trump brushes it off. He doesn’t grovel. He doesn’t apologize. He could care less about the rules of their effeminate clique.

Thomas Friedman displays the confusion quite well.

This is not funny anymore. This is not entertaining. Donald Trump is not cute. His ugly nativism shamefully plays on people’s fears and ignorance. It ignores bipartisan solutions already on the table, undermines the civic ideals that make our melting pot work in ways no European or Asian country can match (try to become a Japanese) and tampers with the very secret of our sauce — pluralism, that out of many we make one.

What Friedman and the rest of the establishment don’t understand is that the country is sick of this lame talk, and that the establishment created the environment in which “ugly nativism” has become popular.

The establishment thinks that they can mischaracterize what normal people believe, label them as naughty boys, wag their disapproving fingers and people will get back in line. And that has worked for a long time. People are afraid to speak their minds because somebody will call them a racist, or … an “ugly nativist.”

All these “bipartisan solutions” Friedman praises are just bunk, and the establishment hasn’t done a thing to fix the problems.

They don’t understand how incredibly frustrated people are. For decades the country has been telling politicians to get control of the border, and they simply won’t do it. They eat their quiche and tell their lies and think that it’s only bad people with evil motives who don’t like the way things are going.

The country is sick of being lectured by incompetent people who think they are our moral superiors — but probably can’t name all 10 commandments.

Our roads and bridges are falling apart. We were promised they would be fixed (remember “shovel-ready projects”?), but all that money went to pay back political favors and to fund pet Democrat projects.

There is no excellence any more. There is only greed and mutual back-rubbing.

Government officials tell bald-faced lies in front of Congress … with no consequences. People are so timid — so cowed by the politically correct establishment — that they are rarely even willing to call people out.

You may be thinking that Republicans have been quite willing to criticize Obama and others in harsh terms. That’s true. But it’s all for show. Nothing comes of it. They do nothing.

We are not respected in the rest of the world, and we feel as if we’re being taken by the Russians, the Chinese, ISIS … actually, by just about everybody.

Can Trump fix these things? Probably not. But ISTM there is growing certainty that we need to try something else. The normal ways aren’t working. The polite, get along, be nice, follow the rules approach is going nowhere.

Actually, if it was going nowhere that would be a good thing. The establishment is digging our grave.

The same applies to some extent to Sanders. He’s popular because he has radical solutions.

Trump is popular because he sounds like the kind of guy who won’t (pardon my French) dick around.

The country is mad as Hell and it isn’t going to take it any more, and the establishment has no one to blame but themselves.

-- 13 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-08-26  ::  Greg Krehbiel

2015-08-25 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Drop off mom too!
2015-08-24 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Uneducated and humorless
2015-08-24 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
The impartial scientific panel
2015-08-21 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
+ 1 comment
2015-08-19 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Are we “summoning the demon”?