Thursday, June 21, 2012

From Today's Email

Dear Mr. and Mrs. President: bride/bridegroom imagery has been appropriated by an office more significant than the Presidency. And we can look out for ourselves, thank you very much. Sincerely, SWNID


For the first 10 years of our marriage, Barack and I lived in an apartment in my hometown of Chicago.

The winters there can be pretty harsh, but no matter how snowy or icy it got, Barack would head out into the cold -- shovel in hand -- to dig my car out before I went to work.

In all our years of marriage, he's always looked out for me. Now, I see that same commitment every day to you and to this country.

The only way we'll win this election is if we can rely on one another like that, all the way to November 6th. Barack is working hard, but he can't do this alone -- he needs your help.

Make a donation today to build this campaign -- when you do, you'll be automatically entered to join Barack and me for a casual dinner:

Your flight, your meal, your accommodations -- that's all taken care of. Just bring yourself and a guest, and get ready to enjoy a good meal together.



So this is what is meany by those who talk about "winning life's lottery," right?

The Privilege of Being Contemptible

The fast-rising fury about Fast and Furious, executive privilege and contempt of Congress is nothing new, dear readers. Presidents since JFK have claimed privilege in regard to releasing various records of their administrations to Congress. Each time, someone on the opposite side of the aisle claims that this claim is unprecedented and illegal. Every one of them gets negotiated out behind the scenes, because neither side can manage the final arbitration, which in our constitutional system happens at the ballot box.

So don't get exercised about Eric Holder as Worst AG Ever. If you do, your political amnesia will be showing, not that you'll remember that.

But we nevertheless deign a particular remark to be the silliest ever in such a debate (this from the Daily Caller):

“I could have arrested Karl Rove on any given day,” Pelosi said on Wednesday, The Huffington Post reports. “I’m not kidding. There’s a prison here in the Capitol. If we had spotted him in the Capitol, we could have arrested him.” 
“Oh, any number” of charges could have been brought against Rove, Pelosi said. “But there were some specific ones for his being in contempt of Congress.”

The results of the upcoming election are in doubt, but be grateful that there's only the remotest of chances that this unhinged person will return to the Speaker's chair.

Why Immigration Reform Will Happen

An acquaintance of SWNID's broke a personal rule a couple of days ago and posted something political on a major social-media site. The experience confirmed for him what prompted his rule: social media is a miserable place for political discussion.

Blogs are for politics.

In keeping with that humane truth, here we recommend a little piece by Mark Salter, once John McCain's chief of staff, who speaks political truth to powerful dumbness in asserting that because all politics is about self-interest, there will be immigration reform pretty soon, so get used to it.

Note well, gentle readers, Salter's point about the miserable coalition that prevents this from happening now: the combination of labor unions and conservatives who believe that xenophobia is a family value. The former are confused on economics; the latter, on morality.

And so we make a point: illegal immigration is illegal simply because we made it so, and in a democratic republic, we can unmake it so if we so choose. SWNID is personally tired about the constant carping about immigrants who want to work hard and make a better life for their families being lawbreakers because they didn't yield to laws that they didn't understand, with which they had little means of complying, and that, most importantly, stand in defiance of the economic law that where there is a demand (in this case, for labor), a supply will appear.

If you eat in America, you are part of an economy that depends on migrant labor that isn't served by immigration laws that are on the threshold of their silver anniversary. Similar things can be said about living or working in buildings.

For confirmation, note well that since the financial crisis of 2008, net immigration of all kinds from Mexico has fallen essentially to zero, making Asians of various nationalities the largest number of immigrants to our Republic, both legal and "illegal" (as in overstaying student visas and such).

The history of humanity is a history of migration. We can handle it thoughtfully or with fear and loathing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Apathy About Ark Apathy

For those who care, whose numbers are fewer than those who care would like.

Awhile back we received a rejoinder from none other than Ken Ham himself concerning our ongoing snarky criticism of Answers in Genesis and its various attempts to commercialize the notion that a young earth is the key to all things biblical and theological. Mr. Ham mentioned us in his blog as an instance of the backbiting that hinders his group from realizing its full evangelistic potential.

Overall the post that Mr. Ham linked has received 275 page views, a not inconsiderable number.

Nevertheless, that number is smaller by about 30% than the number of page views for selected posts that have been SWNIDishly linked on social media. And it's about 11% of the number of page views for a post commenting on the notion that sexual congress is a human right, linked who knows where.

This little kerfuffle started because of the SWNIDish question whether AIG has had its fifteen minutes of fame, as demonstrated by stalled fundraising for the Ark Encounter project. We continue to raise the question, noting that a link on the web site of the multimillion-dollar organization creates less traffic than common social media.

What Makes Disagreement Disagreeable

There's a short list of folks with whom SWNID is compelled not simply to disagree but to disagree with relish.

John Piper is one.

As the pope of the Neo-Puritan Church, Piper espouses a particularly rigid and radical form of Reformed theology, one in which the sovereignty of God is so extremely interpreted that human freedom is constrained to the point that, as Piper himself admits, a person will go mad contemplating the results.

That's something to disagree with, as the majority of the church has historically.

What adds the necessity of relish is Piper's insistence that anyone who disagrees is a sinner. We refer to a helpful little piece by George W. Sarris at the Christian Post for reportage and rebuttal. When Piper asserts that those who don't hold his particular view of election are sinners for not doing so, he draws lines that rightly make the community of faith bristle.

One wonders whether Piper is willing to take the next steps in his public discourse: to affirm that such belief, like the position of the dust motes in a sunbeam, is the consequence of God's sovereign predestination, that God is therefore the cause of the sin, and that God is therefore the author of evil, but so what?

The wisdom of the Campbellite silence on matters of biblical silence is significant on all such matters. The Bible doesn't teach overtly sovereignty as Piper affirms it: that much is demonstrable. At the least, the community of faith ought to have liberty to disagree with Piper without his bringing judgment on their disagreement. Better still for Piper to say, This is how I see it, but many differ because Scripture isn't as clear on this point as some want it to be.

But we don't hold our breath. Per Piper, both his continued dogmatism and our continued respiration were foreordained.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Robert Sirico Replaces SWNID

"And when the radical priest come to get us released, we were all on the cover of Newsweek."--Paul Simon, "Me and Julio"

What's the third-millennium version of the radical priest? We offer Robert Sirico, former leftist, who holds forth with magnificently simple elegance in this interview: Guys like Sirico make SWNID's blogging essentially unnecessary, except to direct people to guys like Sirico. This is a longish video with little to look at except for Sirico, who no doubt would say that he's nothing to look at. So we recommend enjoying the audio while doing light housework or something.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

The Two Percent?

If the 1% is economically privileged and the 99% economically aggrieved, does the 99% have the right to demand more of the 1%? After all, we're just putting a burden on 1%

If the 98% is comfortable with traditional social arrangements and the 2% is put out by the same, should the 98% accede to the 2%? After all, there are so few of them, what difference will it make to everyone else?

The latter question has to do with same-sex marriage. The Atlantic's Garance Franke-Ruta points out that our best estimate is that LBGT (bonus points for scrambling those letters and being understood: note that BLTG sounds like a sandwich with an additional ingredient) folk comprise about 2% of citizens of Our Republic.

GF-R's conclusion is that such tiny populations can't make the difference to the overall sociology that people assume when they contemplate same-sex marriage with an overestimate of the number of people who would be seeking such. Fair enough, we say, though we doubt that this correlates as GF-R thinks it does. Rather, we suspect that citizens, asked how many gay marriages they would expect to see where such legalized in their state, would respond with small numbers; then, asked to re-estimate the number of gay folk in their community, they'd re-estimate lower.

Regardless, note that in both cases of political reasoning--the 1% of economic privilege and GF-R's 2% of LBGTs, there remains a notion that the number is so small that the consequences are inconsequential. Just take 10% more of the massive wealth of the 1%, and all will be better off. Just give 2% what has historically not been theirs, redefining what societies universally have recognized, and great good will be done for them with no harm to society.

Here's where that nasty issue of principle comes into play. What if there's something in play besides what does good for an aggrieved majority or an restricted minority? What if, say, the rights of people to keep what is legally theirs is fundamental to a free society? What if the permanent, exclusive relationship of a man to a woman is fundamental to a functioning society?

We think that there's much to consider in the observation that there are fewer LBGT citizens than most imagine, and that not many of them really seek to be wed to same-sex partners, just as there's much to consider in observations about the so-called 1%--that theirs is not a static population, that growing gaps between their wealth and the wealth of the 99% actually correlate better with economic improvement for the 99% than the other way around, that taxing them at 100% would not address Our Republic's fiscal crisis.

But we can't simply dismiss a significant social issue because it affects so few directly.