On Women in Combat

5 Comments

57684-2009-12-02-121214 www.army.mil

57684-2009-12-02-121214 http://www.army.mil (Photo credit: VA Comm)

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will formally announce today that women will be participating in combat in future U.S. military operations. There is no doubt that some women could be effective in combat. However, there are problems with a general policy allowing women in combat that supporters of the policy change ignore due to their own egalitarian ideological presuppositions.

Just because some women would be effective in combat does not imply that most would be. Nor does it imply that allowing women in combat will not harm U.S. military prowess. Women are not the same as men–anyone not blind can see that–and those differences go beyond distinctions of sexual organs and breast size. Overall, women lack the level of physical strength of men. Exceptions do not trump averages. Carrying heavy packs for many miles, heavy lifting, and other areas of hard labor will still be done mainly by men. The possibility of pregnancy remains a problem. In the U.S. Navy, pregnancy is a problem to the extent that the Navy must assume that a given number of women will be sent home from ship duty over a certain time due to pregnancy. Human nature does not become optional when men and women are in close quarters. The emotional bonds created in combat are deep–soldiers die as much for their buddies as for an abstraction such as their country. Only someone naive would believe that in the stress of combat that only Platonic bonds would be formed between male and female soldiers. Anyone who has been in love understands how such a powerful emotion can interfere with reason and good judgment. The military can write all the policies it wants, but in the end human nature will triumph–and human beings are sexual beings. Pregnancy would become a problem in combat units, perhaps even more so than in noncombat units. Women desiring to remain in combat may be encouraged to have abortions, and beyond this murder of innocent human life other women, not knowing they are pregnant, could be killed in action, taking two lives. True, Israel has women in combat, but even Israel has backed away in part due to problems with military effectiveness.

For years, feminism has been claiming that women do not play a special role in the lives of their children. However, this is not the case. Even in the days of the household economy, in which the fathers provided discipline and moral education for their children, children would more often in the presence of their mothers. Such is the nature of biology, a nature that feminists want to deny or to transcend. Placing women in combat is the end stage of a radical egalitarianism that took away a living wage from a man, forcing a woman to work outside the home, and forcing children without extended family in an area to live their early lives in day care. It is no surprise that the order on women in combat came in the administration of a radical egalitarian from a Marxist background (via Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dorn), President Barack Obama. Human nature will assert itself despite attempts to remold it, and the new policy will inevitably fail. If it does not, I will stand corrected–but I have a strong hunch that the ones corrected will be the radical egalitarian policymakers.

On Mr. Lincoln

2 Comments

English: Picture of the Abraham Lincoln statue...

English: Picture of the Abraham Lincoln statue in the Lincoln Memorial. Italiano: La statua di Lincoln al Lincoln Memorial. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is always risky busy to attack an American god, and Abraham Lincoln is, de facto, an American god with his own temple in Washington, D.C. No doubt, slavery was wrong and played a major role in leading to the War Between the States. It was not the only or major factor–quotations can be taken out of context from Southerners during and before the war, but reading them in context reveals that the right to succession was the more important issue, as it was to Lincoln himself–his task, he believed during most of his presidency, was to “save the Union.”

H. L. Mencken was among those who recognized Mr. Lincoln’s true legacy–that of dictatorially forcing states back into the United States using brutal military force. Mr. Lincoln refused to honor any peace initiative other than a complete surrender of the Confederate States to the authority of the federal government. If people complain about a mammoth state today, they should look to Mr. Lincoln’s legacy.

Abraham Lincoln may have lived in the 19th century, but in many respects he remained a man of the eighteenth century French Enlightenment. He was a revolutionary in the sense of the French, not the American, revolution. He accepted the deism of the Enlightenment, though he used religious language for his own political purposes. He believed in the “proposition that all men are created equal,” abstract language which should remind people of Rousseau’s “general will.” Such Rousseauian language has been used by tyrants from his time to the current time. Recent evidence also suggest that Mr. Lincoln was influenced by German Marxists who had immigrated to the United States.

Beginning in 1862, Mr. Lincoln decided on a policy of “total war,” modern warfare in the sense that he supported attacks on civilians. While Robert E. Lee ordered his soldiers not to mistreat civilians, Mr. Lincoln’s generals, such as William T. Sherman and Phil Sheridan, brutalized the Southern population, much to the delight of liberals today. Later, Mr. Sherman and Mr. Sheridan would use the same brutal tactics in their genocide of the Native American population in the American West.

Mr. Lincoln also suspended Habeus Corpus, violating a Supreme Court ruling in doing so, and thousands of people were imprisoned–newspaper editors who criticized the conduct of the war, ministers who opposed the war, anyone who even hinted of opposing the massive power of Mr. Lincoln in any way.

Regarding slavery, Mr. Lincoln was willing to allow it 1863, when he figured that if he emancipated slaves in the South, he could foment rebellion. His Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in the Confederate States; slaves in the Union states remained slaves until the passage of the 13th Amendment in December 1865. Even General U. S. Grant owned slaves. Mr. Lincoln hoped to send African slaves in their descendants to South America (mainly) and also to Africa.

600,000 men died in the War between the States–around 250,000 from battle deaths and the rest from disease. The brutal military government of the captured Southern States caused misery after the War–Lincoln’s own postwar generous policy toward the South was as much a political move looking forward to the 1868 election as it was due to any genuine conviction. The same can be said for his successor, Andrew Johnson, who was brutal as a military governor of Tennessee, but then backed down after he supported Lincoln’s postwar policies.

The modern centralized state that was Lincoln’s legacy survived because of several Supreme Court rulings in the 1870s that limited the federal government’s power, but which reared its head with World War I, the witch hunts of the post World War I period, the welfare state, and the dictatorial presidency of FDR in World War II. Presidents today appropriate to themselves, often with the help of a complacent Congress, more power, so that soon the president of the U.S. will have as much legal power in peacetime as Lincoln had in wartime.

“What about the freeing of the slaves,” a liberal bird chirps. Yes, it is good that slavery ended–owning another human being is a violation of human dignity and is morally wrong. The North enjoyed enslaving its factory workers in their own way after the War between the States–so there is hypocrisy present. With the advent of the machine economy, slaves would have no longer been necessary for the kind of agricultural production used in the antebellum South. It is likely that slaves would have been emancipated by the 1870s, though an apartheid system most likely would have been set up. Since that is what happened anyway, what was really gained under than the destruction of 600,000 lives, mass poverty and starvation in the South, and states that no longer were able to affirm their rights without federal pressure and/or federal troops being sent to the states. Evil practices are best contained in small units–if a state does something immoral, that can be stopped through public activism and grass roots movements. But if the all-powerful federal government does something immoral, there is no recourse, thanks to Mr. Lincoln. He won. He’s god in the history books and in the American educational system. The Abbeville Institute is trying to present a more balanced scholarly approach to the period of the War between the States, but that effort is ignored or viciously attacked by other “academics,” even though some members of the Institute protested in favor of civil rights in the 1960s. The winners really do write the history books.

The Super-Nanny of New York

1 Comment

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg opening ...

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg opening the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At http://politicker.com/2013/01/bloomberg-slaps-down-criticism-of-painkiller-restriction-plan/ is an article focusing on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to restrict the number of painkillers in emergency rooms. He argued that the increasing abuse of pain pills required mitigation, and that restricting pain pill supply would be an effective method to reduce such abuse.

Mayor Bloomberg, like many liberals, sees himself as a nanny–in his case, a super-nanny–who is there to protect the people from their own foolish decision-making. He apparently believes he is Plato’s philosopher-king who knows what is good for the ignorant masses. This behavior was seen in his restricting the size of cola drinks in order to reduce sugar consumption and thereby reduce obesity. Even at a practical level, that will do little good–someone can buy several two liter colas at the local grocery or convenience store and drink away.

Bloomberg’s actions may not only hurt the poor who use the ER as a primary care facility; it may also harm other patients who require painkillers when the allotted supply runs out. The fact that some addicts take advantage of a ready supply of painkillers does not entail that the supply should be limited. There are always going to be people who take advantage of the medical system to feed their own addiction or to meet their psychological desire for attention. Does Mr. Bloomberg have the medical expertise to tell hospitals what to do? The answer is self-evident. Such a decision smacks of totalitarianism of the kind found in Huxley’s Brave New World.

If anyone wishes to see the future of the United States under President Obama, take a look at Michael Bloomberg’s actions. Mr. Obama has put forth federal regulations at a record level. They supposedly meet a particular need–for example, as a university professor I have to turn in my textbook list for the following semester by a particular date or the school could theoretically be fined. The idea is to give prospective students the price of an education, including book costs, at a particular college or university. When colleges and universities take federal funds, they are subject to federal regulations–but other than the required statement on the syllabus for students with disabilities, this is a rare time that a regulation has directly affected me as a professor. In addition, I must use the university’s e-mail address due to abuse by degree mills. I do not mind doing that, though I like my account through a major search engine provider and use it more often–the point is the depth to which the federal government is getting involved in what a professor puts in his syllabus. How many more regulations will come from this administration? The New Deal of FDR and the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson created the modern nanny state in the United States, Mr. Obama seems intent on outdoing both of them. To the mammoth state, citizens are like children–and people treated like children tend to behave like children. Aid means control–that is one principle the recipients of benefits from the welfare state forget. Given the decline in character resulting in the childification of people in the United States, I doubt they will protest–most people, like a frog in slowly heated water, will accept their enslavement without a whimper.

Chess and Mental Illness

4 Comments

Morphy

Morphy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love the game of chess. Over the years I have enjoyed playing in tournaments and in informal games at chess clubs and other venues. Now I do not believe there is any necessary relationship between any particular game and mental illness. It does happen to be the case that in studying the history of the game, one finds a number of cases of brilliant players who became mentally ill. Paul Morphy, the great nineteenth century American player and unofficial world champion, is one classic example. Wilhelm Steinitz, the first official world champion and, since he became a United States citizen in 1888, the first U.S. world champion, sadly, became mentally ill in old age, allegedly offering God odds of pawn and move in a game. Akiba Rubenstein, a great player from the early twentieth century, also became mentally ill in his old age. The most famous contemporary example of mental illness in a chess player is Bobby Fischer, the first U.S.-born world champion. After he won his championship match with Boris Spassky, Fischer’s behavior became increasingly unstable, and his rabid antisemitism seemed to be a strange form of self-hatred given that his mother was Jewish, and recent evidence indicates his father may have been Jewish as well. Shortly before he died in 2008, I looked at Bobby Fischer’s personal website–it was clearly the work of a sick man–paranoid, raving, and incoherent. I disagreed with the U.S. Chess Federation’s throwing Mr. Fischer out after he supported the 9-11 attacks because those were not the statements of someone who was mentally “all there”. Why is the case that many chess geniuses suffer from mental illness?

Such problems are not unique to chessplayers–mathematical and musical geniuses sometimes have similar problems with mental illness. It is as if the brain is wired for one type of thinking and does that thing at a genius-level, but other forms of thinking are truncated. I am reminded of the extreme of savants, who can do one thing well, but are profoundly mentally handicapped in other areas.

I would venture a guess that more geniuses have high-functioning autism (which I do not consider to be a mental illness) than other people. It is well known that people on the autistic spectrum tend to focus on one (or only a few) special interests, and they tend to excel at those. In other areas of life, such as social ability, they do not do as well. I am not chess genius, but only an average tournament player of around the 1500-level, but I have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (now called high-functioning autistic spectrum disorder). When I go to chess tournaments, many of the players seem more socially inept than I am–that’s saying a lot. I have also noticed some players having interests upon which they focused almost exclusively–chess, of course, but also collecting fantasy action figures, Dungeons & Dragons, war games (board games), science fiction, science, and mathematics. This is not a bad thing–society needs people with talent in many areas who can channel their interests in a positive direction. If that tendency to be antisocial goes too far, however, to the point of debilitating autism or true mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, as well as personality disorders, then that results in players such as Mr. Morphy or Mr. Fischer.  These serious cases are sad, and such individuals require treatment which is all too hard to come by these days. Plus, the person or person’s family must take the initiative for the individual to get treatment. I do not believe chess itself will do them harm–it may do them much good in channeling their energies into one of the great strategy games of history and an intellectual contest par excellence.

I will continue to enjoy chess, and continue to enjoy playing over the games of the great players of history regardless of their mental difficulties. Morphy’s and Fischer’s games are masterpieces and are a great joy to go over. I believe that the contributions and beautiful games of chess these men offered more than make up for anything they may have said due to their illnesses. In the end, they have made the world a richer and more joyful place by creating objects of beauty.

The Great American Sell-Out

2 Comments

U.S. Capitol

U.S. Capitol (Photo credit: afagen)

Both political parties are selling out the American people, and many Americans are quite happy with that. The budget deal included some tax increases, but those are not as much of a concern as a refusal to cut spending. The same massive deficit spending characteristic of the Bush 2 administration and accelerated beyond anything the country has seen under Mr. Obama will sink the children and grandchildren of Americans. The Republican Party does not have the courage to support massive spending cuts because they are more concerned with staying in power than doing the right thing.

Their fear may be justified. Americans showed that they would support someone who kept bringing in the “benefit” dollars–it is the typical attitude of most (and I mean to say “most”) contemporary Americans: “What’s in it for me?” As if that attitude is not bad enough, most Americans have the view that “I want from the government what helps me and to hell with my children and grandchildren.” Massive deficit spending cannot be sustained long-term–that is basic economics which anyone but an academic can understand. The problem is not as much political ideology as it is old fashioned selfishness. As Americans retreat into their individual worlds, the fate of their children (if they have them) becomes immaterial to their own lust for “free stuff.” Of course there is no “free stuff” that the government gives the people–that money comes from taxes. The United States sells treasury bonds to China and Japan (its main customers) which are only as good as long as the United States can pay up. So far it has, and billions of taxpayer dollars have paid the interest in the national debt. Printing more money to pay off higher deficits will only lessen the dollar’s value.

Apocalyptic books are popular these days, as is speculation about apocalyptic scenarios in real life. Although I am not one of those who store barrels of grain in my house, I understand the concern. Congress and the president will not stop massive federal spending, and when the day of reckoning comes (through China calling us on our debt, a massive loss of value of the dollar, or some other deficit-related catastrophe), it will not be pretty. The 2007 recession (which continues today despite what the mainstream media with its Obama-worship says) will look like child’s play. Now ideological liberals may think that’s a good thing since income distribution will be leveled out. To a liberal ideologue, it would not matter if the United States becomes a third world country. I do not believe most people in Congress want that, but their refusal to discipline themselves is going to damn the country to economic disaster. No money can be spent without the House of Representative’s approval. People in the House need to take their fiduciary responsibility to be good stewards seriously. Conservatives need to vote people into Congress who mean it when they call for federal spending cuts. Those in Congress who refuse to accept fiscal responsibility should be voted out.

I am doubtful that will happen–it seems that most Americans’ characters have been corrupted regarding fiscal responsibility by their own greed and selfishness, by their wanting something for nothing. The American people are being sold out, and only a few voices “crying in the wilderness” speak against the sellout. Ultimately, republics tend to disintegrate by their own hands. The hands of most Americans are wrapped around the fiscal throat of the United States, and they refuse to let go. Sadly, amputation via economic collapse may be the only way to teach them hard lessons about economic reality.

Why am I So Hard on Christian Fundamentalists?

23 Comments

No dancing

No dancing (Photo credit: chrisinplymouth)

I agree with most of what Christian Fundamentalism accepts–the virgin birth of Christ, the incarnation, the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead, the resurrection and judgment of all people at Christ‘s second coming. I am pro-life on the abortion issue (even in cases of rape or incest the act is objectively morally wrong). I believe that premarital sex and any kind of homosexual activity is sinful. It would seem that Fundamentalists should be blood brothers. Yet some of my posts have been rather “outspoken” against Fundamentalism, to the point that I offended some old friends of mine. I owe them–and anyone who reads this blog–an explanation.

It is true that I largely agree with Fundamentalist positions. I think it is far better to be part of most Fundamentalist Christian Churches than to be part of a liberal Protestant body such as the Episcopal Church (ECUSA). However, Fundamentalism harms Christianity because the unfounded positions of many Fundamentalists, the rabid legalism and Puritanism of some Fundamentalist groups, and the extreme ignorance of some Fundamentalist Christians drive people away from the Gospel of Christ.

One example is the Fundamentalist belief in the strict inerrancy of Scripture, even in historical and scientific matters. All I would have to do to discount that view is to have students read two different Gospel accounts of the Limited Commission, one in which Christ exhorts His disciples to take a staff, and the other in which he exhorts them to take no staff. I could also point out that Genesis 1-11 is modified from earlier Babylonian accounts of the creation and flood and reflects the ancient world view of a flat earth, a solid firmanent in the sky with holes for the sun, moon, and stars, and an underworld wherein dwell the shades of the dead. The Bible is not absent of theological error–no Christian should emulate the attitude of the psalmist in Psalm 137, who says, “Happy is he who takes your little ones [i.e., babies and children] and dashes them against the rock.” Holy Scripture is inerrant in all matters necessary to our salvation–but there is no theological requirement for a stronger doctrine of inerrancy.

Young-earth creationism is a view held by some Fundamentalists–the view that the earth is several thousand years old and the Great Flood made most of the fossils and geological formations we see today. As I have noted before in this blog, this position does not fit the facts, such as the difference between flood-based deposits of sediment and sediment laid out over a long period of time. Although there are concerns with how some scientists interpret evolution, evolution as such is not contrary to Christian faith. A young person who is brought up on young earth creationism as the only proper way to interpret Genesis may lose his faith when confronted with the actual evidence.

Puritanism is a part of some Fundamentalist groups. Some forbid dancing, not realizing that there is a difference between the lewd, simulated sex in dance today and the traditional forms of dancing. The same groups allow kissing but not “necking” or “petting,” apparently oblivious to how much a kiss can turn on people. Where I went to school, dancing was banned, so many students engaged in horizontal “dancing” in the dorms. Such hypocrisy is inevitably the result of legalistic moralizing.

Forbidding consumption of alcohol ignores the fact that Jesus drank wine (no, dear Fundys, it was not grape juice–it was wine and one could get drunk on it) and that drinking in moderation is not unhealthy. Some people should not drink alcoholic beverages, not because it is wrong in itself, but because they have a propensity not to stop drinking once they start. For others, however, there is nothing wrong with moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages.

A more serious problem is the acceptance of Dispensational Premillenialism by many Fundamentalists. This had led Christian Fundamentalists to support Israel blindly and to be warmongers, especially if the war involves fighting nations they perceive to be a threat to Israel. Some of the most rabid voices hankering for war with Iran have been from Christian Fundamentalists. They ignore the symbolic nature of the 1000-year reign (10x10x10, a perfect number symbolizing the fullness of time) of Christ, and locate that reign in a literal Jerusalem. Such a view of God’s kingdom was rejected by Jesus Himself (“my kingdom is not of this world). It ignores the fact that the Book of Revelation was written to be understood by its original readers, who would have known that the opponent of God in that book is the Roman Empire that was persecuting Christians.

Fundamentalists are often consumed with fascination about Satan, demons, and hell, to the point that every teenager wearing a trench coat and listening to heavy metal music is a violent threat to others. Fundys fear difference of any kind instead of using practical reason to determine which differences are worthy of negative judgment and which ones are not. The Robin Hood Hills murder suspects who were wrongfully convicted (the “West Memphis Three“) of murdering young cub scouts were convicted by ignorant Fundamentalists who saw Satanism everywhere. Damien Echols had a name that reminded them of the movie, “The Omen,’ and Fundys were too stupid to realize that Echols was referring to Father Damien when he changed his name. His use of the name was to honor the great priest who labored among lepers and eventually died of the disease himself. I listen to heavy metal music (and to classical, jazz, bluegrass, anything but rap, hip-hop, and most contemporary country). I enjoy Iron Maiden, Pantera, Rob Zombie, Anthrax, Zao, and Yog Suggoth. Does that make me a Satanist? Some Fundys would think so–and they would be dead wrong. It is sad that Echols states in his autobiography that the behavior of Christian Fundamentalists in getting him wrongly convicted turned him against Christianity–even so, he has a rosary and engages in some Christian spiritual disciplines. How many people who otherwise would have become active, loving, and orthodox Christians have been driven off by the extremism of Fundamentalism? God only knows, but those guilty of driving others away from the faith will answer for it.