Saturday, December 1, 2012

Free Advice to the Religious Right

The advice that follows is generally applicable.  I offer it to the religious right in response to some of the polemic against Frank Schaefer.

  1. You need to eschew the strict dichotomy of friend and foe.  You will find you have few of either if you take a step back.  Most people are ambivalent to your interests.  Very few are antagonistic.  
  2. You need to demand less of those who are neutral.  One of the more ridiculous displays in the past election was Romney's pro-life convictions.  Even if Romney would have won, the manifestation of those convictions extracted at significant cost would have been nothing since there was very little of an actual anti-abortion agenda that could or would be enacted.  Romney was neutral on abortion.  Obama is largely neutral on abortion in practice.  Both offered rhetoric that pretended otherwise.  
  3. Recognize what is an issue and what can be an issue.  A right to refuse the offer of insurance coverage for contraceptive benefits was never going to decide a national election.  This was true even if you claimed this was an issue of religious liberty.
  4. Advocacy and advisement are distinct activities.  Advisors above all else must be judged on their competency.  Too often advocates are forgiven for their piss poor advisement because they are on the side of angels.  Additionally there is fear that the cause will suffer if advocates learn they are piss poor advisors.  Because of this, you have piss poor advisors.  Acknowledge the problem and move on.
  5. Advocacy has historically been a leisure activity.  Too many advocates, especially within the pro-life movement are careerists.  To be perfectly blunt, the national pro-life movement is made up of people whose first interest is themselves.  It shouldn't require 6 figures to be on the side of the angels.  
  6. There may be a majority whose willing to tolerate you winning, but there isn't a majority who share your belief that social issues are the most important issues of our time.  If you want people to give you a respectful hearing on your issues, you have to be willing to give them a respectful hearing on their issues.  And before some people says the other party started it, take a close look at the past 60 years.
  7. For better or worse, the people who disagree with your choices aren't just doing it to piss you off.  Illegitimacy, divorce, and other social ills have been around for a long time.  And by the way, they are called social ills for a reason.
  8. The health and wellness gospel has really harmed social conservatism.  Among other things, it has resulted in a tolerance for racist cranks.  Understand that a lot of other people see H&C as little more than an endorsement of white privilege.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Yes, this blog has begun to atrophy.  I am moving further into a selfish phase where I don't judge myself against some abstract external standard.  Since I don't judge myself against that standard, I don't tend to judge others against it.  And since the standard is no longer applying to anyone, arguing about it seems a bit trivial.  Perhaps this would seem to be the antithesis to communitarian ideals.  I don't live under those ideals.  I live in the world as it is.  Ideals are for ideologues and the well off, and I am neither, although that likely will be changing.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day

A little music for Labor Day.  For whatever reason, we didn't sing this as a prelude to the mass yesterday.  We did sing "America".  Perhaps, he thought it was Memorial Day weekend or perhaps all holidays must be appropriated to the nation-state.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Parties as Mediators

I have been mildly entertained by conversations discussing our two political party.  Regardless of party, people act like the two parties are mediating institutions.  While they are technically still mediating institutions, they are almost entirely dysfunctional in this capacity.  Some of this has to do with progressive reforms.  A lot of it has to do with the Internet.  The Internet has allowed talented writers to more easily disseminate information.  In turn, the requirements of a national campaign on an issue - as opposed to a candidacy - has gone from a tens of millions of dollars endeavor into a hundreds of thousands of dollars endeavor.  There isn't a big challenge any longer for a wealthy individual to hire some talented individuals and run a national campaign.  Organizations that can put aside more money can of course have more influence, but the starting requirements are quite low.  As for candidacies, the cost of running for the Senate, as an example, is now down to one or two million dollars.  When I was a youth, it was relatively rare to run for Senate without having held a major office within the state.  Now it isn't unusual at all.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Two Party System

The most commonly made argument against the two party system is that the parties are not representative of the people's interests.  I think this is largely nonsense.  What is true is that the national platforms have a higher variance from regional interests.  I doubt that changes much nationally in the end.  Presently the parties are as weak as they've been in a generation.  This has been owed somewhat to the progressive reforms that weakened the parties.  Oddly enough, the worker was better off with two strong parties, because labor made the parties serve their interests of they delivered votes elsewhere.  That is not the case today.  Today, neither party works in the interests of workers.

Monday, August 20, 2012


In my life, I have almost always been willing to allow suffering for myself.  That has been inclusive of suffering for people better off than me.  The day that started ending was when I noticed that my suffering did not just fall upon me, but it fell upon my children.  It is one thing to suffer for your ideal.  It is another thing to have those who depend upon you suffer for your ideal.  This comes to mind reading this thread.  The absolute fear of bringing another child into this world to join in suffering is quite visible in some of the comments.  Of course, the vast, vast majority of people using birth control (be it NFP otherwise) are doing so for economic reasons.  Of that group, a large number are well off or at least moderately well off.  However, there are more people for whom bringing a child into this world would mean asking him to suffer.  These are people like myself who look almost idyllically at the people able to support large families.  I had never built my value system around the acquisition of material goods.  Were it not for kids, I would likely be content with a certain amount of poverty.  I am not content to allow them to suffer for my ideals, and if the church wishes to be insistent on the matter than she needs to make provision.  Asking the weakest of her followers to suffer for her ideals is simply cruel.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Paul Ryan

Since the guy is from my home state, I feel almost compelled to comment.  Meh.  He was elected in an open race.  He lives in a district neighboring three TV markets with voters fairly distributed throughout the district.  This means opposition candidates tend to be known in one market but not all three.  The district covers around a quarter of each television market, and that makes TV advertising very difficult and more expensive.  He will tickle the ears of the Milwaukee talkers, but he won't do so near to the degree that Scott Walker does.  Demographics and redistricting made it a fairly easy district for him.  This is why for example I have difficulty seeing how people impute charisma to him.  I haven't seen a whole lot of evidence of him ever persuading anyone.  Republicans haven't valued an ability to woe independents since at least Bush the Elder, so they are likely being idiosyncratic in their definition of charismatic.  I think his selection was more about rallying the troops, and I would imagine the troops will be satisfied with the pick.

People will try to play his district as liberal, but Mark Neumann preceded him.  Neumann is considered the most conservative candidate in the WI Senate race.  He has lost statewide office bids several times.  Draw your own conclusions.