Monday Meanderings and an Announcement, 7/30/12

  1. Why Capitalism Has An Image Problem.
  2. Your tax dollars at work.
  3. Best thing said about Mitt last week.
  4. Putting off parenthood for pleasure.
  5. Will the Barbarian Politicians shift the Overton Window?
  6. MYOB, Moreno.
  7. Tipsy is evolving.


Charles Murry, who has made a career of being a lightening rod (The Bell Curve and Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010), steps into the Overton Window with a Friday Wall Street Journal column, Why Capitalism Has An Image Problem.

  1. “One is the rise of collusive capitalism. Part of that phenomenon involves crony capitalism, whereby the people on top take care of each other at shareholder expense (search on “golden parachutes”). But the problem of crony capitalism is trivial compared with the collusion engendered by government.”
  2. “Another change in objective conditions has been the emergence of great fortunes made quickly in the financial markets.”

That list may not be exhaustive, but it’s an awfully good start, don’t you think?


Your tax dollars at work. Do you feel safer because the feds are swarming Nancy Black? Or do you feel fresh sympathy with the only Ayn Rand quote in my repertoire?


Nicest thing I’ve heard about Romney in weeks: “Abortion-Rights Activists: Romney’s VP Choices Don’t Favor Choice.”


Nona Willis Aronowitz notes “more people are putting off parenthood,” and asks “what will that mean for their kids?” It’s a real phenomenon that drew me to read her story, but I’d urge you to read with a critical eye if you do read, and to ask what her unstated premises are.


James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal’s “Best of the Web” Friday suggested that those politicians who threatened unconstitutionally to ban Chick-fil-A from their turf (Boston and San Francisco Mayors, Chicago Alderman with backing of Mayor Rahm Emanuel) may actually advance rather than retard the cause of same-sex marriage.

If the previous paragraph is indecipherable to you, perhaps you grew up in a world where corporations weren’t overt political players (some are today; Chick-fil-A isn’t), and nobody woud have thought of boycotting a corporation because of a political opinion held by shareholder or officers. I don’t appreciate Jeff Bezos throwing $2.5 million of his weight to the wrong side in Washington state, but if I “boycott” Amazon, it will be because I prefer local business when possible, not because Amazon appeared on somebody’s hit list.

Anyway, Taranto thought these guys might, with their extremism, move the Overton Window, a political science concept with which I was not familiar, by redefining the sexual liberationist extreme (unconstitutional and anti-American political persecution of businesses whose officers express any doubt about sexual liberationism) and thus maving SSM closer to mainstream.

Having now looked at the Wikipedia article on the Overton Window, I think maybe these politicians are using the Door in the Face technique (with which I also was not familiar). It sure isn’t the more familiar Foot in the Door, though that’s also been used plenty over the past 50 years to advance the Sexual Revolution.

Take my musings with a grain of salt since I just encountered two of the three political science concepts and have never had even one course in political science. I just wish sane traditionalists could move the Overton Window by contrasting themselves to Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist bunch, or even to the folks who insist that you can “pray away the gay“* (because surely God wouldn’t allow anyone to suffer a thorn in the flesh for very long if they’d just pray hard enough about it).

But traditionalists can’t seem to move the window. There’s something bigger than conscious manipulation going on. I see it as a sort of mass insanity the etiology of which ought not to be a mystery. Not all social evolution is in a good direction — think of Germany in the 1920s, for an extreme proof.

[* Note: The linked video, starting at 4:11, has a very interesting and sober distinction from an mainstream member of the American Psychological Association: there’s no good evidence that any therapy or prayer can change sexual orientation, but (he quickly adds) that’s not to say one can’t change behavior or even “identity.” If that’s all that’s meant by the APA criticism of the “pray away the gay” folks, and if mainstream APA members will help an unhappy gay or lesbian change behavior or identity, then I take back all the snarky things I’ve said about the APA.]


On Friday, Mr. Moreno conceded that free-speech rights trump his authority on the issue, and shifted his focus from Mr. Cathy’s remarks to potential discriminatory policies at the fast-food chain. He said he would reopen talks with Chick-fil-A, but pledged to fight the company until it amends or clarifies its anti-discrimination policy.

MYOB, Mr. Moreno. If they violate Chicago’s anti-discrimination laws, that’s one thing, but you have no license to bully them into changing their policy because it isn’t sufficiently servile to the Zeitgeist.


All but the first item of today’s blog were substantially written Saturday. Then came news that prompted yesterday’s somber blog. That news, of which I still may not speak, reminds me how broken things are on my side of the culture war divide.

In many ways, “blue state” citizens are living, better than those who propound them, the values propounded by “red state” citizens.

But I didn’t want entirely to waste a few hours’ work.

When I (re)named this blog early in its life (“Intellectualoid,” which persists in the URL, was the original name), I self-mockingly was alluding to a G.K. Chesterton quote:

Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are least dangerous is the man of ideas.  He is acquainted with ideas, and moves among them like a lion-tamer.  Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are most dangerous is the man of no ideas.  The man of no ideas will find the first idea fly to his head like wine to the head of a teetotaler.

I’m a third- or fourth-rate polymath, interested in many things, intellectually facile (at least in my youth; I know I’m not as quick now). My late, sainted father used to talk of a “jack of all trades, master of none.” I’ll leave “none” for others to judge; I’d like to think I’ve mastered one or two.

But I’ve been inconstant. I’ve fallen off the wagon. I declared in March of 2010 that I was a conscientious objector to the culture wars. Last September, I was explicitly ready to re-enlist, and I’ve been waging Guerilla War on the “conservative” pretensions of the GOP ever since the scales fell from my eyes.

But yesterday’s somber blog included a quote from Gregory Wolfe, editor of Image:

Somewhere in our history we passed a divide where politics began to be more highly valued than culture … Whereas I once believed that the decadence of the West could only be turned around through politics and intellectual dialectics, I am now convinced that authentic renewal can only emerge out of the imaginative visions of the artist and the mystic.

Gregory Wolfe, Beauty Will Save the World: Recovering the Human in an Ideological Age (quoted in a review in The American Conservative).

Here are a few more excerpts from that same book review:

[T]he very phrase “culture wars” is an oxymoron: “culture is about nourishment and cultivation, whereas war inevitably involves destruction and the abandonment of the creative impulse.”

[T]he Eucharist, the preeminent Christian sacrament, consistes of bread and wine,  not wheat and grapes. “In other words, the gifts offered to God at the altar are not the untouched products of the earth, but artifacts, transformed though human hands through an art.”

I intend to drop out of the culture wars again, and to do what I said in March of 2010:

So who am I hangin’ out with these days if not with the Alliance Defense Fund and the acolytes of R.J. Rushdoony? Check the bloglinks to the right – Especially Front Porch Republic (“Place. Limits. Liberty.”), Distributist Review  (guardedly). Small Is Beautiful has taken on new meaning for me. (My benighted generation got a few things right before we sold out or got complacent – and appreciating E.F. Schumaker was one of them).

I can’t even rule out Father Stephen. Nothing he writes is “about politics,” but everything he writes is about sane, human and humane living, which surely connects up somehow.

Basically, I’m going back and rethinking all things political and cultural. I’m wisdom-hunting. I read Wendell Berry essays and poetry, Bill Kauffman books, Russell Kirk’s Conservative Mind, Matthew Crawford’s Shop Class as Soulcraft, Scott Cairns’ Poetry, W.H. Auden (“For the Time Being” is now on my list for every Advent).

My conversion to Orthodox Christianity started it in a way. I soon realized that the Church has not always prevailed, and has produced martyrs in every century. And that’s okay. Better we should lose honorably than win by selling our souls.

I’m Tipsy, though, and I may have lapses. But if you’ve been reading to blog for the lapses, I intend henceforth to disappoint you far more often than not.

I’ll be blogging less frequently since cultural tidbits come harder than political.

* * * * *

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.