Monday, October 05, 2015

The Donald Trump Bubble Shows There is a Significant Market for a Demagogue

Today there is a market for a demagogue - someone whose entire appeal is polarizing, uncivil, personally vilifying, and policy-less. The demagogue's message is "you are weak, but I will make us strong again." 

There are always demagogues in the political market.  Usually the governing parties are able to shut them out by appealing to the majority who want government to govern according to law.  Governing parties then debate policies that appeal to their separate constituencies and reach some compromise.

Now, though, one of the governing parties has created a dangerous opening for demagogues to infiltrate and take over their party structure.  By running on a platform of "government is the problem" for a generation, one party has invited to cuckoos to lay their eggs in the party nest.  And now the eggs are hatching and demanding to be fed.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Why Do So Many Conservative Christians Love Their Guns?

In response to my earlier post on the assault weapons ban, I was asked by Barry, a regular reader:

What is the strong correlation between evangelistic Christianity and gun fandom? IT seems that there should be none, however, the correlation is strong

Barry, I agree that the attachment that many conservative Christians feels for their guns is very puzzling.  This is especially puzzling for those who want guns for hypothetical warfare with their own government - the exact scenario Jesus faced when he accepted crucifixion.

I think most people's religion is really a tribal religion, syncretized with elements of more universalistic world religions.  This goes for nationalistic Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Confucianists, as much as for nationalistic Christians.  In these cases, I believe they envision themselves as "good guys with guns" who will protect the tribe against "bad guys with guns". And, of course, the latter usually imagine the same about themselves.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

No Unscripted Actors

I have made a rule for myself: I do not need to watch interviews with actors.  This goes double for movie stars.

Directors and writers I can be interested in.  But actors only reliably have something important to say when they are talking about acting.

A corollary: I am suspicious of plays about actors.  Same goes for novels about writers.

[All of this is brought on by watching "Birdman"- an artful film about foolish, self-destructive people with concerns not engaging to non-actors.]

Friday, October 02, 2015

The Economy is a Good Servant But a Bad Master

The economy exists to serve the needs and wants of everyone.  Society should regulate the economy just enough to make sure it does that job.  This regulation is done through the state and through the customs and mores of the people.

The "real economy," argues David Halpern in The Hidden Wealth of Nations, consists of the quality of relations among individuals and among social groups.  This is what most people value the most. The money economy and the production/consumption economy should serve human relations, not the reverse.

Society becomes distorted when, instead, the government and even the customs and mores are shifted to serve the economy.  The idea that society is best off if the market is left free to maximize profit for owners serves the owners, but hurts everyone else. In this as in all things, proportion is vital.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Bring Back the Assault Weapons Ban

After yet another mass murder involving an assault weapon, we should bring back the Assault Weapons Ban.

This sensible law included, at the NRA's insistence a sunset provision.  Passed under a Democratic administration, it was allowed to expire in a Republican one.

After Sandy Hook, Democrats made a concerted effort to renew the ban and make it permanent.  Republicans defeated it.

I am not calling for a total gun ban, nor gun grabbing (gun trolls take note).

I am calling for the renewal of sensible legislation to limit and gradually eliminate weapons whose only civilian use is mass murder.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Beards: They Do a Body Good

Today I will just enjoy the research that says beards block ultraviolet rays and keep irritants away from your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. :-)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pope Francis Can Help Mainline Protestants Talk About Christian Economic Teaching Again.

The social teachings of mainline Protestantism and those of the Roman Catholic Church are strongly aligned with one another. They have been in dialogue for more than a hundred years. They diverge the most on sex, but are very congruent on the care of the poor and on economic issues in general.

Pope Francis has pushed forward the economic side of Catholic social teaching. This is a good thing for mainline Protestantism.  The market for genuinely Christian economic thought is open right now. Niebuhrians, deliver.  Take back the economy from the Randians and the libertarians.