Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How To Win At Blogging Without Really Trying

It's finally happened: We have reached peak Megan McArdle. Her posts are now so choc-a-block with inaccuracy, lies, misunderstandings, and ignorance that it takes far too long to find, research and correct them. McArdle wins.

Take her Greek posts. They are based on her misinterpretation of what others say, wingnut conventional wisdom, biased sources, and sometimes gross error. Not only do you have to correct McArdle, to do the job properly you also have to correct all her sources. Before you know it you have spent two hours reading source material (which is more than McArdle does)  and still have more errors to correct. She has achieved the wingnut brass ring: she is so wrong so often in so much volume that she can get away with saying almost anything.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Authoritarian Parent's Lament

It's click-bait of the very best kind:
Conservative Parents, Left-Wing Children By Dennis "The Menace" Prager  
Schools see it as their job to make kids reject their parents’ conservative values.  
There is a phenomenon that is rarely commented on, although it’s as common as it is significant. For at least two generations, countless conservative parents have seen their adult children reject their core values.
I wonder why on earth nobody ever talks about liberal academia brainwashing conservatives.
I have met these parents throughout America. I have spoken with them in person and on my radio show. Many have confided to me — usually with a resigned sadness — that one or more of their children has adopted left-wing social, moral, and political beliefs.


Wait a second. Let's say I'm a conservative woman. I was told to have a lot of children so the Muslims wouldn't out-populate "us." Now you're telling me it could have been for nothing and the first time the kids are let out of the compound they'll reject me Jesus??
A particularly dramatic recent example was a pastor who told me that he has three sons, all of whom have earned doctorates — from Stanford, Oxford, and Fordham. What parent wouldn’t be proud of such achievements by his or her children?
An authoritarian parent whose only wish is to force his child to reinforce all of his own choices by making the same choices.
But the tone of his voice suggested more irony than pride. They are all leftists, he added wistfully.  
“How do you get along?” I asked.  
“We still talk,” he responded.
The sons must be as wise as they are intelligent to maintain a relationship with a man who probably is more concerned with their souls than with their actual lives.
Needless to say, I was glad to hear that. But as the father of two sons, I readily admit that if they became leftists, while I would, of course, always love them, I would be deeply saddened. Parents, on the left or the right, religious or secular, want to pass on their core values to their children.
Imagine if they were gay. But that's a choice, right? And therefore it is not the parents' fault if their child is gay; they did not pass it down through their blood, even if their gay child has a couple of gay relatives. And although the child chose to be gay, the parents did not do anything to turn the child gay because everyone knows parents have no effect on their children's minds.

Oddly enough, only liberals have an effect on children's minds. Liberal media, peers, teachers, professors, courts, churches. They all turn people liberal through their devious, deviant ways. But conservative values are weak.  Impotent. They melt away like the summer rain when the harsh light of the liberal sun comes out to play.

In the end liberals are just like conservatives, they want to brainwash their children into accepting their parents' beliefs as well. Conservative is the default mode, a liberal is just a person who is too egotistical to do what he is told.

Prager explains that it's the job of a parent to pass on his values. It is not his job to teach his child how to think for himself or make his own independent choices.
So it is sad when a parent who believes, for example, in the American trinity of “Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” and “E Pluribus Unum” has a child who believes that equality trumps liberty, that a secular America is preferable to a God-centered one, and that multiculturalism should replace the unifying American identity.
God forbid that our children believe, "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto Me."
It is sad when a pastor or any other parent who believes that the only gender-based definition of marriage that has ever existed — husband and wife — has a child who regards the parent as a bigot for holding on to that definition.
It's a lot sadder when parents teach their children to be bigots.
It is sad when a parent who believes that America has always been, in Lincoln’s famous words, “the last best hope of earth” has a child who believes that America has always been little more than an imperialist, racist, and xenophobic nation.
There's nothing sadder than seeing your child learn something outside of Jesus' Guide To The History Of The World.
That this happens so often raises the obvious question: Why?
When a kid finds out you lied to them your entire life about everything in the entire world, shit happens.
There are two reasons. One is that most parents with traditional American and Judeo-Christian values have not thought it necessary to articulate these values to their children on a regular basis. They have assumed that there is no need to because society at large holds those values, or it did so throughout much of American history. Villages do indeed raise children. And when the village shares parents’ values, the parents don’t have to do the difficult work of inculcating these values. But the village — American society — has radically changed.
Didn't the Village radically change two generations ago? Are conservatives just now noticing this? Of course not.
Which brings us to the second reason. Virtually every institution outside the home has been captured by people with left-wing values: specifically the media (television and movies) and the schools (first the universities and now high schools). In the 1960s and 1970s, American parents were blindsided. Their children came home from college with values that thoroughly opposed those of their parents.
The parents wanted their sons to fight as they had fought. The kids saw Vietnam on tv and refused. The parents wanted their daughter to get married and have children. The daughters wanted to use the brains they had been training and refused. The pastors were growing rich and powerful with their huge tv audiences and generous politicians and wanted the young people to join and vote for the right. The young people refused.
And the parents had no idea how to counteract this. Moreover, even if they did, after just one year at the left-wing seminaries we still call universities, it was often too late. As one of the founders of progressivism in America, Woodrow Wilson, who was president of Princeton University before he became president of the United States, said in a speech in 1914, “I have often said that the use of a university is to make young gentlemen as unlike their fathers as possible.” Eighty-eight years later, the president of Dartmouth College, James O. Freedman, echoed Wilson: “The purpose of a college education is to question your father’s values,” he told the graduating seniors of Dartmouth College.
It is worth seeing that quote in context, since of course Prager tries to twist it to his own end.
I am interested in Young Men's Christian Association for various reasons. First of all, because it is an association of young men. I have had a good deal to do with young men in my time, and I have formed an impression of them which I believe to be contrary to the general impression. They are generally thought to be arch radicals. As a matter of fact, they are the most conservative people I have ever dealt with. Go to a college community and try to change the least custom of that little world and find how the conservatives will rush at you. Moreover, young men are embarrassed by having inherited their father’s opinions. I have often said that the use of a university is to make young gentlemen as unlike their fathers as possible. I do not say that with the least disrespect for the fathers; but every man who is old enough to have a son in college is old enough to have become very seriously immersed in some particular business and is almost certain to have caught the point of view of that particular business. And it is very useful to his son to be taken out of that narrow circle, conducted to some high place where he may see the general map of the world and of the interests of mankind, and there shown how big the world is and how much of it his father may happen to have forgotten. It would be worth while for men, middle-aged and old, to detach them selves more frequently from the things that command their daily attention and to think of the sweeping tides of humanity.  
Therefore I am interested in this association, because it is intended to bring young men together before any crust has formed over them, before they have been hardened to any particular occupation, before they have caught an inveterate point of view; while they still have a searchlight that they can swing and see what it reveals of all the circumstances of the hidden world. 
I am the more interested in it because it is an association of young men who are Christians. I wonder if we attach sufficient importance to Christianity as a mere instrumentality in the life of mankind. For one, I am not fond of thinking of Christianity as the means of saving individual souls. I have always been very impatient of processes and institutions which said that their purpose was to put every man in the way of developing his character. My advice is: Do not think about your character. If you will think about what you ought to do for other people, your character will take care of itself. Character is a by-product, and any man who devotes himself to its cultivation in his own case will become a selfish prig. The only way your powers can become great is by exerting them outside the circle of your own narrow, special, selfish interests. And that is the reason of Christianity. Christ came into the world to save others, not to save himself; and no man is a true Christian who does not think constantly of how he can lift his brother, how he can assist his friend, how he can enlighten mankind, how he can make virtue the rule of conduct in the circle in which he lives. An association merely of young men might be an association that had its energies put forth in every direction, but an association of Christian young men is an association meant to put its shoulders under the world and lift it, so that other men may feel that they have companions in bearing the weight and heat of the day; that other men may know that there are those who care for them, who would go into places of difficulty and danger to rescue them, who regard them selves as their brother’s keeper.
Prager is as honest as he is bright.
Even now, too few conservative parents realize how radical — and effective — the university agenda is. They are proud that their child has been accepted to whatever college he or she attends, not realizing that, values-wise, they are actually playing Russian roulette, except that only one chamber in the gun is not loaded with a bullet. And then the child comes home, often after only a year at college, a different person, values-wise, from the one whom the na├»ve parent so proudly sent off just a year earlier.
Educated instead of ignorant. Questioning instead of blindly believing. Accepting instead of vilifying. The horror!
What to do? I will answer that in a future column. But the first thing to do is to realize what is happening. There are too many sad conservative parents.
There are too many authoritarian parents.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Tears Of A Clown

Once again Sad Kitty puts lace hankie to eye and sobs over the incivility of the those who force more affordable healthcare down the innocent throat of ACA-hating America. Someone said that someone else said something mean about something, and naturally liberals are to blame.

But I'll pause to point out a cultural and political implication of this ruling and the drama leading up to it. Some supporters of the law declared that they were going to take their ball and go home if the Supreme Court didn't agree with their interpretation of the statute. These people wasted their time: With a 6-3 ruling, the call was not so close that the posturing pushed it over. But these people did have one effect. They eroded something in civic life that we can't afford to lose. By pretending that the Supreme Court and the rule of law were at risk in this ruling, they strained the already frayed fabric of civil society.

Do you remember the hissy fit McArdle threw when Obamacare passed into law? I sure do.

Regardless of what you think about health care, tomorrow we wake up in a different political world.

Parties have passed legislation before that wasn't broadly publicly supported.  But the only substantial instances I can think of in America are budget bills and TARP--bills that the congressmen were basically forced to by emergencies in the markets.

One cannot help but admire Nancy Pelosi's skill as a legislator.  But it's also pretty worrying.  Are we now in a world where there is absolutely no recourse to the tyranny of the majority?  Republicans and other opponents of the bill did their job on this; they persuaded the country that they didn't want this bill.  And that mattered basically not at all.  If you don't find that terrifying, let me suggest that you are a Democrat who has not yet contemplated what Republicans might do under similar circumstances.  Farewell, Social Security!  Au revoir, Medicare!  The reason entitlements are hard to repeal is that the Republicans care about getting re-elected.  If they didn't--if they were willing to undertake this sort of suicide mission--then the legislative lock-in you're counting on wouldn't exist.  

Oh, wait--suddenly it doesn't seem quite fair that Republicans could just ignore the will of their constituents that way, does it?  Yet I guarantee you that there are a lot of GOP members out there tonight who think that they should get at least one free "Screw You" vote to balance out what the Democrats just did. 
If the GOP takes the legislative innovations of the Democrats and decides to use them, please don't complain that it's not fair.  Someone could get seriously hurt, laughing that hard.

Such incivility will strain the already frayed fabric of civil society!

But I hope they don't.  What I hope is that the Democrats take a beating at the ballot boxand rethink their contempt for those mouth-breathing illiterates in the electorate.  I hope Obama gets his wish to be a one-term president who passed health care.  Not because I think I will like his opponent--I very much doubt that I will support much of anything Obama's opponent says.  But because politicians shouldn't feel that the best route to electoral success is to lie to the voters, and then ignore them. 
We're not a parliamentary democracy, and we don't have the mechanisms, like votes of no confidence, that parliamentary democracies use to provide a check on their politicians.  The check that we have is that politicians care what the voters think.  If that slips away, America's already quite toxic politics will become poisonous.

Democrats are ignoring what the Republicans want! Why don't Democratic politicians understand that they won't get Republican votes if they don't do what the Republicans want? If Democrats don't give in to the Republicans, politics will become even more toxic.

Obviously, yes, I was upset yesterday.  I'm glad that this could bring so much joy to peoples' hearts, and of course to know that for many people, the happiest part of passing health care reform seems to have been knowing that it made people like me unhappy.  The people wondering why I was so upset should contemplate that first, I think you people just screwed up both our health care system, and our fiscal system (even further), and that if I'm right, that's not really funny.

Liberals ruined everything by democratically electing Obama and utterly ignoring the wishes of conservatives to elect the guy with all the car, kids, horses and gutted companies. Liberals endangered the nation by forcing conservatives to accept Obamacare. God alone knows what might follow when one part of the nation is so overbearing as to fulfill a campaign promise (in a fashion). The delicate fabric of the space-time continuum might be rent by the abrasive, abusive liberals' jackboots forcing corporate reform. (Of a fashion.)

Obviously, there are places and times when a nation's political institutions are so corrupt and compromised that a patriotic citizen is duty bound to try to destroy them rather than let them continue to operate as they are. But that place is not the America of 2015, and the time is not "when I am afraid that the court will disagree with me about one clause of a program I think is really important." Your country needs a functioning Supreme Court, and the civic support that legitimizes it, more than it needs any government program, including Obamacare.

This is something that liberals will become well aware of tomorrow or Monday, when the court is expected to rule in favor of a broad constitutional right to marriage, including for same-sex couples. I'm a libertarian, so as you'd expect, I find that agreeable.
That's news to us. The last time McArdle talked about gay marriage in length she was sure it would ruin marriage somehow, just as sure as she is that Obamacare will ruin the economy and kill millions somehow.

On the other hand, as a matter of constitutional theory, I expect the ruling to be a weak outgrowth of the absurd "emanations and penumbras" seeping out of all the sexual liberty cases of the 1960s, for which I can find little actual basis in either the text or intent of the constitution.

Legal scholar McMegan studied the constitution and decided that privacy was nothing but a hippy-dippy tantrum. Are we supposed to believe that McArdle poured over the Constitution, consulted cases law, and formed an educated opinion?

In other words, I think it will probably be a bad ruling for a good cause, which is why conservatives who sincerely believe this to be a bad cause will have a right to be mad.

Liberals threaten the legitimacy of the Supreme Court when they are mad about cases. Conservatives have the right to be mad about cases. It's funny how no matter what, conservatives are the legitimate ones and liberals are illegitimate.

What they should not do is to go into the sort of shameful tantrum we've seen from liberals on the subject of King, where they declare that a ruling against them would be a naked abuse of partisan political power by which the court has thoroughly invalidated any claim it ever had to political legitimacy. The losing side will always be displeased, but let's keep some perspective: Bush v. Gore should not cost the court its standing. Neither should Citizens United. A case like King v. Burwell should certainly not.

What liberals? I might as well talk about conservatives who whore for the Koches. I can actually provide sources for that accusation.

We are politically fragile right now, and yet neither side is going away. As we discovered in 1861, at the national scale, there's no such thing as a tidy no-fault divorce.

Dad wanted to keep slaves but Mom didn't so Dad left Mom and threatened to kill her if he didn't get his own way. When Mom warned him that a divided family will not stand he carried out his threat and tried to kill her. Now Dad wants to quit paying child support because Mom "didn't build that" and is threatening to take away the kids' health insurance to punish Mom. But the Attorney General garnished Dad's wages for child support and now he is angry. McArdle says he has every right to be angry, for his side of the issue was utterly ignored.

That's why the more divided we get, the more vitally important it is to have common institutions that both sides agree to abide with, however much it may chafe at certain moments. Yet instead of recognizing that, we are increasingly trying to destroy those institutions whenever it seems to offer temporary political advantage. However much you dislike the behavior of Congress, or the Supreme Court, or the president, you would like it even less if they really did lose political legitimacy. Because it wouldn't just be you who threw off the shackles of custom and civic restraint and disregarded rulings you disliked. Those villains on the other side would do the same.

Unable to crow over a victory, McArdle contents herself with concern-trolling liberals to death. You'd better not cross us or we'll get you back. Unfortunately for McArdle some of the nation does not have her playground mentality and is not engaged in a permanent game of King Of The Hill, pushing off the smaller people to claim everything for herself. McArdle realizes that it would look bad to show anger at her inability to snatch healthcare from the hands of the poor

I'm perfectly satisfied with the ruling the court got, and how they arrived at it. The court is doing fine. But the last six months have certainly cast doubt on the political legitimacy of our public debate.
 
Cheer up McArdle. You may have lost America but you still have Ross Douthat and Rod Dreher.

Good News For The Palin Clan

Bristol Palin is expecting a Happy Event and the glowing mother to be is happily sharing the news with the world. She begins with an ultrasound picture of little Blessing and my, isn't that baby a big one. That's no bun in her oven, it's a loaf of bread.

But it's not just fetus  pictures and squee. The little mother has something to say to her doting admirers as well.
So here are the things you should all get straight before you continue to mock me, judge me, and talk about me. 
 
That birth announcement to Mom must have been rough.
None of us are perfect.
 
You have to be perfect to keep from having an unplanned pregnancy.
I made a mistake, but it’s not the mistake all these giddy a$$holes have loved to assume.
 
I see this is not a Nancy French Palin assignment but the words of the little mother herself.
This pregnancy was actually planned.
Everyone knows I wanted more kids, to have a bigger family.  Believing I was heading that way, I got ahead of myself. Things didn’t go as planned, but life keeps going. Life moves on. 
 
I wanted to marry a military hero--Mom isn't getting any younger and the screaming about money is getting louder--and decided to take the bull by the horns, so to speak. After I become blessed by God's grace the bull didn't put the ring in his nose like he was supposed to do and busted out of the corral gate, running as fast as his legs could carry him, straight up the hills and into Freedom.
 
But I do not regret this baby. This baby is not a disappointment, and I cannot wait to be a mom times two. Tripp is going to make the best big brother!!
(Tripp--who was left in a limousine at age five while Mommy drank and brawled at a birthday party, is probably going to feel even more neglected. )
Let’s get another thing straight, because I can’t tolerate all the talk on this subject. I have never been paid as an “abstinence spokesperson.” I was employed by the great people at The Candies Foundation.
(Bristol is a straight-talkin' no-bullshtting kinda gal and don't you forget it.)
From their site:
The Candie’s Foundation is a non-profit organization that works to shape the way the youth in America think about the devastating consequences of teen pregnancy and parenthood. We are an operating foundation that develops and runs communication campaigns to raise awareness about our cause. Each year millions of teens are exposed to The Foundation’s message, which encourages them to delay pregnancy and shows the realities of teen parenthood. Our approach is unique: all of our ads feature celebrities that teens can relate to and speaks to them directly using their own language. We go beyond raising awareness; our goal is to influence teen culture.
In other words, they are a teen pregnancy prevention non-profit and I worked for them when I was 18 and 19 — when I could share first hand the challenges of being a teen mother.  Here’s one of my PSAs: [snipped video]

I wasn't a teen abstinence spokesman. I just spoke about abstaining from sex when you are a teen.
I know you remember me most from when Mom ran for Vice President. However, I’m not 17 anymore, I am 24. I’ve been employed at the same doctor’s office for over six years now; I own a home; I have a well-rounded, beautiful son.
I'm no longer a teen unwed mother, I'm an adult unwed mother.

(I need to get a job in a doctor's office. I had no idea it paid so well.)

Bless his heart, how her son must suffer from not having a two-parent family which as well all know is the only way to prevent her son from becoming a vandal or brawler or drinker or fornicator.
Here’s what I have spoken out about. Life.
On this blog and at a few pro-life events.
 
I am so pro-life that I plan on making as many lives as I can. Accidentally on purpose!
When I realized I was pregnant, I knew I would be completely crucified.
You know who else was completely crucified? Jesus! Now Bristol is just like Jesus and therefore much holier than before! And like Mary she was an unwed mother-to-be! If she became a carpenter she could hit the Holy Family Trifecta!
But I never even thought of aborting this child, NO MATTER WHAT THE CIRCUMSTANCE.
So no matter how bad I am I will never be as bad a liberal. Remember that when I get pregnant for the third and fourth times. And forget all that stuff about how pre-marital sex is a sin and is destroying civilization, at least until I am being paid to say it.
(Sorry to the ghouls at Gawker, who said this baby is an argument FOR abortion. Not happening.)
(Gawker ghouls will no doubt be crestfallen that they can't force Bristol to obey their family planning whims, which is more than we can say for Bristol. And they will no doubt be delighted to learn they are annoying Bristol, who unaccountably runs to the internet to see what it is saying about her. Hint: nothing flattering.)
I am pregnant. This is not the ideal situation, but life is important even if it’s not in the most absolute ideal circumstance. This is more confirmation on what I’ve always stood for. I’ve always been pro-life and I am standing for life now.
::unfurls flag, hits "play" on boombox and blares Star Spangled Banner, breast-feeds Tripp while twirling a baton::
Deal with it.
That'll get the wingnut welfare rolling! She hopes! The abstinence bucks may be gone but the anti-abortion folks are sure the pony up and help her support her increasing girth lifestyle family.

Friday, June 12, 2015

A Pearl Of Great Price: The Wit And Wisdom Of Megan McArdle

A quick recap of a week of McArdle wisdom, proving that there is nothing you cannot say or publish when you are backed by billionaires:

Clinton Support Has Nowhere To Go But Down: As people get to know the Republican candidates better Clinton is bound to become less popular, which will make Democrats panic when they realize she is all they have.

McArdle does not discuss the actual candidates, probably because they show up in the media quite often as they scuttle state governments,  do the can-can while auditioning for billionaires' largess, or voice heartfelt support for child molesters and conceal evidence against attempted statutory rape.


U.S. Can't Import The Scandinavian Model: The US cannot have a strong safety net because its productivity depends on innovation and innovation depends on inequality as an incentive. Countries with a strong social net are free riders on American innovation.

This was the same argument she gave us to explain why we could not have Obamacare. No doubt it is equally reality-based.

"Primates Of Park Avenue," Stranger Than Fiction: It's incredible that journalists embellish and lie.

Money quote:

Martin says she telescoped certain events to protect the privacy of friends and family. Does this matter? Yes, for a few reasons. The first is a stubborn journalist's ethic that the minor details have to be right too, not just "the big picture." Writing my own nonfiction book, I agonizingly went back and fact checked over and over again to try to make it as accurate as possible. Where I was telling a story that even I couldn't possibly verify -- because, say, it involved a casual conversation at a bar that happened 10 years ago -- I made that clear, and didn't embroider with detail that would have made it more vivid. We try to get the little details right because otherwise, how will anyone trust the big picture?

Yes, she of the hypothetical statistics and African-American on a bus who sounded suspiciously like an Ayn Rand character wants us to know how meticulous and correct she is, how honest and thorough. We know she's lying but there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.  McArdle will always have the last laugh and the money to enjoy it.

 Would The Poor Prefer Cash Over Medicaid?: Do you think it might be a good idea to get rid of Medicaid and give out cash instead? What if someone wanted to buy a prom dress instead of medicine for a strep throat? Wouldn't it be paternalism to deny them that choice? Do people even know what is best for them? We could argue either way.

Nobody knows anything ever, so get rid of Medicaid.

 Paying Off Student Loans Is Hard. Do It Anyway: I paid off my student loans (because I am terrified of a bad credit rating which I see as a sign of personal worth) and by god you will too.

That one is self-explanatory.

If Apple Blocks Ads, Who Would Notice?: Sigh. Journalism is doomed.

This is easy for her to admit because she knows she is not a journalist and will always have a job.

Friday Food Post: Sous Vide With Some Bite To It:
The sous vide makes perfect meat. Here is how you compensate for the unpleasant texture and flavor.
Most of the food I eat comes from the freezer.
Here is a list of my favorite cookbooks.

It seems that the sous vide and Thermomix were more trouble than they were worth, and they were worth thousands.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Short Cuts

Sometimes, if you take the first and last paragraphs of a Megan McArdle post and eliminate the rest not only will you save time and sanity, you will get a clear message: nobody knows anything. It's like a Mad Magazine back page with blather instead of boobs.

How much should we pay for cancer drugs?
...

But the broader answer is that we are probably not going to find a perfect answer. We often talk about the purpose of research as being "finding a cure for cancer" -- but we rarely ask if that wouldn't create problems of its own.

Either way you have learned nothing and come out of her post more confused than when you went in.  McArdle thinks "journalism" means giving her opinion, not investigating and reporting.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Release of Flatus by the Cerebellum As Emitted By Megan McArdle

Shorter Megan McArdle: Workers are to blame for poor working conditions.

Money quote:
[As] employees, we want to have maximum freedom to take better jobs, to withhold our labor until we get a better deal, or to take time off for stuff we think is important, while enjoying maximum income stability. As customers, however, we want folks who will work cheaply with no commitments and yet show up reliably, which is why we hate the cable company so much. The institutions that intermediate these two desires are employers: governments and companies. 
...  
Because we have these intermediaries standing between us and the other side, transforming the trades into something more suited to our tastes, it's easy to generate contradictory demands as voters, ones that ratchet up that risk because we ask officials to guard our interests as consumers as well as our interests as workers.
I think she's getting stupider. She quotes Arnold Kling and Tyler Cowen, blathers on at random for a while, and then it's cocktail hour. Bottoms up!

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Long Con Of Rod Dreher

The percentage of Christians in the US has dropped 7.8%, from 78.4% to 70.6% and Rod Dreher cries Apocalypse Now!

Look at those numbers. We are staring at the face of a European-style collapse within a couple of generations. If you think the children being born now to religiously observant Millennial parents are, on the whole, going to be more pious than their parents’ generation, you are whistling past the graveyard. Once this decline gets going, it’s very hard to stop. 
Again and again: these are not normal times. We can’t be about business as usual. The future of Christianity in America will be Benedictine — as in Benedict Option — or it won’t be at all.
Moore and Stetzer are mostly right. This is a winnowing-out of nominal Christians, and it could make the church stronger. The down side of this is that a post-Christian culture can and will slide into an anti-Christian culture, one that will not content itself to let us be weirdoes off by ourselves, but will actively attempt to suppress us. I am certain this will happen. It may be good for us, ultimately, but I cannot say that I’m looking forward to watching institutions be torn apart.
The number of people who were unaffiliated with religion rose 6.7%. Fascism is bound to follow.
Not long ago, a senior figure engaged in legal strategy on religious freedom issues told me that we cannot disengage from court fights and politics, because we have no choice but to keep fighting to protect ourselves. But we should not be under any illusions about the prospect of any kind of solid or lasting victory, nor should we deceive ourselves by thinking that winning lawsuits and elections is any kind of alternative to doing the hard, long, necessary work of building a strong, resilient Christian culture.
We must live a Christian life while persecuting gays. It's not all fun and games, you know.
I have called the showdown in Indiana over RFRA an “apocalypse,” not in the “end of the world” sense, but in the original Greek sense of an “unveiling.” The reason it was so shocking to many religious conservatives is because it showed us how things really are in this country — specifically, that religious liberty is far more imperiled than we previously believed. It’s not so much that people weighed religious liberty against gay rights claims and found them wanting; it’s that people didn’t seem to weigh them at all. It was naturally assumed, and assumed with great moral indignation, that of course religious people are entitled to no consideration in the face of anti-discrimination claims. Patrick Deneen can read the signs of the times, and sees that neither Republicans nor Democrats can be counted on to value the principle religious liberty when it opposes what the mob, including the mob in the boardroom, wants[.]
Christianity is going to cost us something in the near future, and for the foreseeable future. This can be the seed of a greater faith, and I hope it is. But I also hope that Christians don’t underestimate the difficulty of the road ahead. As I keep saying, these are not normal times, and things we have always been able to take for granted are going to erode badly, even disappear. Prepare.
How is Rod Dreher preparing for the coming annihilation of the Christians? He is retreating to his happy place, the Benedict Option. This Benedict Option is a little vague, it seems to entail a kind of retreat into a strong religious community. Surely that would make the pogroms easier to carry out but Rod was not clear.

Finally Dreher described what he meant by finding a more Godly way to wait out existence until he is carried off by the wings of an angel.
Our friends arrived tonight after eight hours on the road, and we served dinner, had beer and wine, then retired to the living room for coffee, tea, and long conversation about life, about church, about books, about God. This is part of the Benedict Option for us. Of course you don’t have to be any sort of lay Benedictine to be hospitable; all good people are hospitable. My point is simply that this kind of hospitality is not something we do in spite of our Christianity; it’s something we do because of the kind of Christians we are. I am basically a Byzantine hobbit who lives by a Christianity that both fasts and feasts, and that sings psalms, and says the knots on a prayer rope, and lights candles, and makes prostrations during Lent, and on and on.  
It’s a life that is vivid and joyful, with the sacramental worship of Jesus Christ at its center. Not as an add-on, but at its center. That’s what I mean too by the Benedict Option.

The Benedict Option has a predecessor, the Crunchy Con movement. You might notice a pattern in Dreher's description of the Crunchy lifestyle.

When Matthew came along, we didn't often have the opportunity or the money to go to restaurants, so we spent many a weekend night cooking dinners for friends at home. Out of sheer curiosity and the pleasure of discovery, we learned about cheese and wine, and began spending some of the happiest evenings of our lives in the basement living room of our little apartment on the Brooklyn waterfront, laughing and talking politics, religion, books, movies, travel, and everything under the sun amid steaming platters of garlicky roasts, tureens of peppery remoulade, crisp-crusted frittatas, tangy giambottas, napoleons of beefsteak tomatoes and basil from our own patio garden, and bottle after bottle of robust Italian and Spanish wine. For us, family, friends, and feasting was pretty much what the good life was all about. The food we prepared with such enjoyment and care was, at bottom, an expression of love for our companions, and our long suppers an occasion for communion.
Rod, a true Louisiana son, loves his food and alcohol, don't you cher?

But let's go further back.

 By that time I was between my freshman and sophomore semesters at LSU in Baton Rouge, and was home working a summer gig at the nuclear plant. There was no place I wanted to be less than stuck in Starhill. So I checked out. I'd come home from my nine-to-five job, make myself a tall glass of Tanqueray gin, grapefruit juice, and soda, and retire to my room to drink, read Hemingway, listen to ska, and marinate in self-doubt. To the rest of my family I looked like a self-centered, uppity layabout. There was no doubt some truth to that, but it was also the case that I was confused and drifting. 

And further still.

Fishing was our family's thing, and Paw's pond was our family's place. Though I was no fan of the outdoors, I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it.

But I would also be lying if I said I wouldn't rather have been in city, at the movies, or better ye, at a bookstore. I loved science fiction, and novels, and books about space, and comics from Richie Rich to Archie to the Green Lantern. And best of all, there was Mad magazine, with its smarty-pants humor, and its snappy Yiddishisms. Nobody around here talked like that. I wanted to be where people talked like that.

In college, he finally was.
One evening [his sister Ruth] shared a table in the cafeteria with my best friend Paul and me. Paul, a political theory major, and I, minoring in philosophy and political science, loved to talk about big ideas. That evening we got off on something about Nietzsche and the death of God. Ruthie listened patiently, but finally lost her cool. She told us she thought that we the "stupidest bunch of you-know-what" that she had ever heard....  
She wouldn't listen to anything either of us had to say in defense of philosophy or philosophizing. At the time I thought Ruthie's prickly anti-intellectualism was funny.
Rod Dreher wants nothing more in this life than to be able to afford a comfortable upper middle class lifestyle doing what he does best: pseudo-intellectual moralizing and gay-bashing. It doesn't matter what he actually says; anything that will sell a book will do. He sold the Catholic Church and then he sold liberal conservatism and when that quickly exhausted he sold the Benedict Option. He'll keep on making up new philosophies and contemplating his navel at enormous length as long as there is a buck to be made or a gay to bash.

And if he has to whip up an Apocalypse to get his luxury and ease that's a small price for someone else to pay so he can live like a Southern Gentleman.