We’re All Racist Now

September 30, 2011

As someone who has been a conservative since his mid-twenties, I am used to being called a racist. Indeed, it is fairly common to hear conservatives being called racists – one of the main charges against the Tea Party by the left is that it is motivated by racism. One can understand the association, because as we all know, when the Klu Klux Klan wasn’t terrorizing black people in the south and burning crosses, it was wrangling over budget deficits and tax policy.

What is surprising however is to find that we conservatives aren’t alone in our racist tendencies. It turns out, at least according to a professor writing for The Nation that liberals are racists as well. As Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor of political science at Tulane University explains it, the disappointment white liberals are expressing towards Obama is a product of their inherent racist tendencies:

These comparisons are neither an attack on the Clinton administration nor an apology for the Obama administration. They are comparisons of two centrist Democratic presidents who faced hostile Republican majorities in the second half of their first terms, forcing a number of political compromises. One president is white. The other is black…

President Obama has experienced a swift and steep decline in support among white Americans—from 61 percent in 2009 to 33 percent now. I believe much of that decline can be attributed to their disappointment that choosing a black man for president did not prove to be salvific for them or the nation. His record is, at the very least, comparable to that of President Clinton, who was enthusiastically re-elected. The 2012 election is a test of whether Obama will be held to standards never before imposed on an incumbent. If he is, it may be possible to read that result as the triumph of a more subtle form of racism.

It is not possible of course that white Americans are less favorable towards Obama than they were towards Clinton because the latter had an infinitely better record economically, so race must be the factor that determines the difference.

The problem with that is it isn’t just white Americans who are complaining about Obama.

Here is Tavis Smiley, black commentator on PBS commenting on Obama’s failure to help black Americans:

So if being disappointed by Obama makes one a racist, then apparently Smiley is a racist too.

Another black (and apparently racist) Obama complainer is Congressperson Maxine Waters, responding to President Obama’s recent talk to the Congressional Black Caucus, as reported here in the Huffington Post:

Rep. Maxine Waters says she’s not sure who President Barack Obama was talking to when he told black Americans to quit complaining and follow him into the battle for jobs and opportunity.

The California Democrat, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, says she found the president’s language “a bit curious.” She says Obama didn’t address Hispanics in such a blunt manner and would never use that language in a speech to a gathering of gays or Jews.

Of course she is noting that President Obama himself is treating a group of blacks differently than he would treat other groups – making him…a racist.

So if you haven’t been keeping count, this appears conservatives are racists, liberals are racists, black liberals are racists, and our transracial president is also racist.

Given that there appears to be no one left who isn’t racist, we either have to come to the conclusion that the word no longer has any meaning, or it is being used improperly – or that everyone is a racist.

Either way, it would seem to make accusations of racism irrelevant with regard to the upcoming Presidential election. And that is a good thing given we have much more pressing issues to consider.

Friday Fun-ness

September 30, 2011

A fine little bit from Terry Gilliam’s fine and quirky movie Brazil, which serves as a fine metaphor for why the Federal government shouldn’t be involved in in healthcare, auto production, or ‘green jobs’.

Elizabeth Warren’s Economic Ignorance

September 23, 2011

One meme that has been making the rounds of the leftist blogs (it always amazes me for supposedly ‘free thinkers’ how much leftists and skeptic imitate each other – but I digress) is a speech to supporters by Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. It encompasses all the favorite themes of the left; collectivism, hatred for the business, a unwavering belief that our problems will be solved if the Federal government has just a few more tax dollars. But she says it much more eloquently and convincingly than the average leftie, and so it tugs at the heartstrings of the leftist blogosphere. Here she is in action:

Here is the transcript of the popular portion of her speech:

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there — good for you!

But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea — God bless. Keep a big hunk of it.

But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

One can see why the left loves this – it is the epitome of top down thinking, encompassing the mythos that the government is the ultimate provider of wealth and services, and those who are wealthy became so feeding off this provision. She literally couches it as ‘us’ versus ‘them’. And as Barak Obama proved, the left loves nothing more than a speechifying academic who incites class warfare.

The problem is, like most leftist academics she gets most of the facts wrong – in three specific ways.

First Warren completely reverses the actual history of economic development. Industry doesn’t start with roads and schools and police forces – it began with groups and individuals converting natural resources into useful goods. Once there was production of goods in an area, then roads and tracks and schools followed. Much later municipalities and police and firefighters were needed. It’s no coincidence that we identify regions of the country with such economic efforts – the Grain Belt, the Iron Range, Silicon Valley, etc. Those regions became home to towns and cities because individuals initiated economic activity there. Certainly businesses continue to be added, but even then much infrastructure development is a response to economic development. Obviously extant municipalities may choose to enhance infrastructure to attract businesses – but it shouldn’t then punish them for using said infrastructure!

She also ignores the obvious fact that businesses already pay significant taxes. In fact the US has some of the highest corporate taxes in the world. One gets the impression from her talk that conservatives have argued for no taxes, when in fact they have argued for fair taxes, as well as streamlining the tax code. So this aspect of her argument amounts to a straw man.

Finally Ms. Warren is doing a bit of bait and switch here. As a Senator running for a national office, she is arguing for raising federal tax rates on the wealthy and corporations. Yet the sort of services and infrastructure she is talking about are primarily local concerns. Her arguments might make more sense if coming from someone running for a city or county position, even a state position, but not as a federal budgetary consideration. One of the biggest problems with our national debt is the fact that so much money gets processed through the federal bureaucracy – we shouldn’t be sending money for schools, roads, and local police up through the morass of federal agencies and back down to the localities. In this respect Elizabeth Warren’s position is contrary to the interest of the average taxpayer. She is offering a recipe for more debt, regulation and inefficiency – killing jobs in the process.

These clear facts are unlikely to resonate with the average liberal or leftist because they play against the cliché stereotypes of the wealthy vs. the ‘rest of us’ that frame their every economic discussion Such understanding also requires a modicum of economic and historical knowledge. None the less they provide a clear reason for the average independent or fiscally conservative person to reject Elizabeth Warren’s framing of the issues, as well as her candidacy.

Friday Fun-ness

September 23, 2011

In case you missed the goings-on at the UN this week, a musical recap:



September 21, 2011

All Barak Obama ever had going for him was personal popularity.

So what is he going to run on now that it’s gone?

The Necessity of Fathers

September 20, 2011

One of the stances secular leftists regularly attack Christians on is their belief in the importance of the traditional family. That is, a family centered on the committed relationship of a man and a woman through which children are produced and nurtured. Secularists attack them both for the rigidity of the arrangement with regard to the necessity of marriage between a man and a woman, and the fact that Christians derive this belief primarily from teachings in Scripture. For the secularists, relationships are fungible, driven by desire rather than design.

As science is coming to find out, the Scriptural proscription for the family is rooted in our physical make-up. And of course, like most truths in Scripture, this reality anticipated scientific findings by millennia.

Two recent studies demonstrate the importance of a committed father in the raising of children, both from the physiological changes the presence of a father has on children, and the physiological impact being in such a relationship has on fathers.

In the first case, a study titled Fathers’ influence on children’s cognitive and behavioral functioning: A longitudinal study of Canadian families chronicles the important impact fathers have on the intellect and behavior of their children. A ScienceDaily article quotes one of the authors regarding the results:

“Fathers make important contributions in the development of their children’s behavior and intelligence,” says Erin Pougnet, a PhD candidate in the Concordia University Department of Psychology and a member of the Centre for Research in Human Development (CRDH).

“Compared with other children with absentee dads, kids whose fathers were active parents in early and middle childhood had fewer behavior problems and higher intellectual abilities as they grew older — even among socio-economically at-risk families.”

In a more surprising 2nd study, researchers determined that children have physiological effects on a committed father. Specifically they found that there was a significant drop in testosterone in committed and involved fathers. This change corresponds with the necessity of fathers to be available to help raise children. The takeaway, according to anthropologist Carol Worthman is that it demonstrates how we were designed to be in long-term committed relationships. From the NYTs:

“This is part of the guy being invested in the marriage,” said Carol Worthman, an anthropologist at Emory University who also was not involved in the study. Lower testosterone, she said, is the father’s way of saying, ” ‘I’m here, I’m not looking around, I’m really toning things down so I can have good relationships.’ What’s great about this study is it lays it on the table that more is not always better. Faster, bigger, stronger — no, not always.”

And such a change is not only beneficial for relationships, but it has added health benefits as well:

Experts say the new testosterone study could offer insight into men’s medical conditions, particularly prostate cancer. Higher lifetime testosterone levels increase the risk of prostate cancer, just as higher estrogen exposure increases breast cancer risk.

“Fathers who spend a lot of time in fathering roles might have lower long-term exposure to testosterone,” reducing their risk, Dr. Ellison said.

As a Christian who believes humans were designed for such relationships, such results come as no surprise. If it is true God made us to be in a bonded relationship for the purpose of producing families or as Genesis puts it, that a man and woman become “one flesh” then one would expect that relationships would incite significant biological changes in addition to the emotional and social changes which are so evident.

So while these results aren’t particularly surprising to knowledgeable Christians they are important supporting evidence for those who contend our beliefs about the family are merely religious considerations. Often these studies amount to proving the obvious, but in our skeptical age we are apparently required to empirically prove that which was up until recently a matter of common wisdom.


September 18, 2011

Why does the press insist on calling tax hikes ‘debt cuts’?

A tax hike may reduce the debt (or it may not), but a hike in taxes is not a cut in any sense of the word. The President is not going to propose any actual ‘cuts’ tomorrow night, he is going to ask us to imagine a time when the war is over and we can soak the rich. He is not going to suggest we reduce spending any any substantive way whatsoever, and that is the only real way to cut the deficit.

Why he is still talking I have no idea – why anyone is listening is a bigger mystery.

Friday Fun-ness

September 16, 2011

If you are wondering where Rick Perry got his notion that Social Security is a ‘Ponzi Scheme’, here is a little hint: It wasn’t a right-wing think tank.


Who’s Pretending Now?

September 15, 2011

In a recent post discussing the debate between philosophers and neuroscientists about free will, Jerry Coyne concludes that a world without free will isn’t that big a deal, because we can still act as if we had free will:

The more I read about philosophers’ attempts to redefine and save the notion of “free will” in the face of the neurological facts, the more I think that they’re muddying the waters. I believe that the vast majority of nonphilosophers and laypeople hold a consistent definition of free will: that we really do make decisions that are independent of our physical make-up at the moment of deciding. If this isn’t the case, we need to know it. Yes, it may be depressing—Haynes admits that he finds it hard to “maintain an image of a world without free will”—but we can still act as if we had free will. We don’t have much choice in that matter, probably because we’re evolved to think of ourselves as choosing agents. But rather than define free will so we can save the notion in some sense (this is like substituting the word “spirituality” for “religion”), why don’t we just rename the concept we’re trying to save? Otherwise we’re just giving false ideas to people, as well as providing succor for religion, where the idea of real free will—the Holy Ghost in the machine—is alive and crucially important.

*emphasis mine*

I find this interesting, because one charge leveled against Christians is that they cling to their notions of God not because they have any evidence He exists, but because the find the idea of God comforting. Of course atheists say this to denigrate Christians, the implication being that Christians believe certain delusions to be comforted, while atheists are skeptical realists.

Now we have Coyne suggesting that atheists embrace a delusion (that we have free will) in order to avoid the fact that being automatons is depressing. Not only is Coyne arguing for delusional thinking, but he is arguing that atheists embrace a delusion knowing full well it’s a delusion. His argument is even more convoluted given that he is recommending that people choose to act in a certain way to avoid the implications of the reality that we are incapable of choosing how we act. The mind boggles.

At the very least Christians can say their belief in God and a mind independent of a physical brain is consistent with the sensation we all have that we are choosing to do certain things. Unlike Coyne and his New Atheist followers, Christians don’t have to pretend something is true in order to make sense of their own experiences.


September 13, 2011

“In most times and in most places, the group was seen to be the essential moral unit. A shared religion defined rules and practices. Cultures structured people’s imaginations and imposed moral disciplines. But now more people are led to assume that the free-floating individual is the essential moral unit. Morality was once revealed, inherited and shared, but now it’s thought of as something that emerges in the privacy of your own heart. “

David Brooks, commenting in his New York Times column about how the current generation of young people is no longer able to comprehend a common morality