Friday, 9/15/17



In the middle of Rachel Lu’s review of Mark Regnerus’s new book Cheap Sex, a distillation jumps off the page:

In a more traditional world, everyone had strong inducements to get and remain married. Today, outside pockets of religious conservatism, marriage is no longer seen as the high road to sexual access. It is a pinnacle of relationship fulfillment and a seal of social respectability; unless and until people see those goods in the cards, they will shy away from marriage and linger in the netherworld of cheap sex.

(Emphasis added)


Occasionally, somebody points out the background noise we’ve been ignoring:

Outrage that Equifax exposed more than 143 million credit records to identity thieves misses the point. We really should worry about what makes impersonation so easy—why do lenders know so little about the people to whom they issue credit?

Because laws meant to ensure fair lending also reduce individuals to anonymous credit scores. Regulators enforcing the 1968 Fair Housing Act and the 1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act look askance at lenders who rely on judgment instead of scores to screen loan applications.

Even broadly relying on statistical scores doesn’t get lenders off the hook. Regulators also frown on “discretionary overrides,” especially if lenders allow frontline staff to overrule scores instead of having someone at headquarters do it. A branch-based banker in direct contact with customers may be better positioned to determine whether an applicant’s score reflects true creditworthiness. But regulators worry that giving branch staffers this authority may invite discrimination, so it’s a no-no.

Federal agencies, notably Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have made FICO scores the main determinant of the creditworthiness of mortgage applicants. In 1994, Fannie and Freddie sought to automate screening—and prevent racial discrimination—by “removing subjective reasoning.” Not coincidentally, Fannie Mae had concurrently pledged $1 trillion in targeted housing finance for disadvantaged groups. Pressed for time, the agencies accelerated automation by relying on FICO scores, which had been designed for consumer lending, not mortgages. Fannie and Freddie’s endorsement then prompted private mortgage lenders to embrace bureau scores as well.

… The scores also rely on “statistical information” that ignores crucial local circumstances. They do not recognize substance abusers or distinguish judges with life tenure from workers in plants scheduled to close. This allows lenders to mass-produce loans at low cost, but it also increases lending mistakes and the risk of credit bubbles. Growing anxieties about indiscriminate FICO-enabled credit card, automobile and student lending—while “artisanal” lending to small businesses languishes—have sound foundations.

(Amar Bhidé, Wall Street Journal) Really a very fascinating opinion piece.


The worst of the Obama legacy was such things as the 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter, which evaded even the modest rigor of normal Administrative rule making:

Indeed, after Mrs. DeVos’s speech last week announcing her intention to rescind the rules, it was striking how muted the public opposition was. Among what’s left of serious minds in academia, there was an awareness that something here had gone waaaay off the rails. Faculty at both Penn and Harvard law schools had already issued statements decrying the Obama sexual-abuse rules as fundamentally unfair to the accused.

It is difficult to express what a big deal this is—or should be. Basic due process guarantees have existed in English-language law since they were embedded in the King John’s Magna Carta in 1215. The U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment reads: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to be confronted with the witnesses against him . . . and to have the assistance of counsel.”

One has to ask: How in 2011 did this rule roll out of the Obama Education Department and become the law of the land in academia without so much as a peep of outrage from them or the American press? Imagine the revolt if an administration attempted to impose on every U.S. newspaper such a sweeping dilution of the First Amendment. Donald Trump’s mere accusation that the press is fake news has produced a nonstop death struggle between the media and White House.

(Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal) The silver lining of Obama is that we actually elected an African-American, fair and square. The cloud is that under the smooth exterior lay a fairly hard left ideology and a willingness to break fundamental law to institutionalize some of it.


The debate over whether America ought to have single-payer health care might as well be over. The new fight will center on what single-payer means.

Pretty much everyone agrees that we all deserve access to health care … Likewise, there is a broad consensus that the current public-private hybrid system of mandates, exchanges, networks, deductibles, premiums, co-pays, and HSAs is an expensive, unsustainable, psychologically and spiritually enervating farce. Some on the right have suggested that the real solution is to “get government out of health care,” a content-free phrase that, except in rare cases, never actually means getting rid of Medicare, a proposal with no support outside the readership of

All of which is to say that no one should be genuflecting in front of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) simply because he managed to introduce a single-payer bill with 16 Democratic cosponsors. For one thing, it is not exactly a rigorously imagined piece of prospective public policy. There is a strong “everyone gets a pony” flavor to Sanders’ proposal, which envisions a system far more generous than any other in existence. In his imagination, single-payer seems to mean gleaming prosperity for all rather than everyone getting his fair share. What he doesn’t seem to recognize is that the reason some Americans, including himself and his fellow members of Congress, get great care is that many get very poor care or none at all. The whole point of socialism is to distribute benefits in a just and even manner, not to will into existence an unlimited number of brilliant surgeons and top-of-the-line facilities and state-of-the-art equipment accessible to everyone.

Mark my words: When America does get single-payer, it’s going to be crappy, it’s going to be gritty, and it’s going to be free. It will be tedious like the DMV, but it will be there, rain or shine. Democrats need to decide whether it’s worth pitching their tent on things like no out-of-pocket spending ever for anyone while millions of people would be happy just to have something that isn’t going to disappear tomorrow.

[P]roponents of single-payer need to stop conceding that theirs is one solution among many. Change the terms of the debate. Be deliberately, oafishly obtuse — and make a painfully exhausting show of being polite when your opponent is confused. You still won’t sound as stupid as the people responsible for the GOP’s failed ObamaCare replacement bills.

People of good will everywhere are coming around. The argument we need to have now isn’t whether everyone deserves health care. It’s a boring one about details like whether glasses and contact lenses — as opposed to treatment for glaucoma — are fully covered or whether middle-class Americans can be expected to pony up for their specs.

(Matthew Walther) I recall when I first decided that Single-Payer was inevitable: April 1988 at a bioethics-type conference in Palo Alto (it’s a long story). We’re allocating a scarce resource whatever we do. It struck me that the days were numbered for a working political majority to approve allocating healthcare — a resource that somehow feels sui generis — on the basis of ability to pay. My response ever since has been more resignation than approval.


Best science, mathematics, philosophy, theology and every other field of human thought are in relationship to each other. They all must listen and respect boundaries and realize that surety is rare. Let’s not be hasty. People are too eager to be sure about everything. I am sure about very few things and those things are not very interesting. I am sure all unmarried men are bachelors, that things that have already happened happened, and that 2+2=4. That’s just not remarkable.

The minute an idea or an alleged fact gets interesting the certainty plummets. Does Hope (my beloved) love me? Probably. Am I sure? Who is that arrogant?

(John Mark N. Reynolds)


I’m planning a trip to Paris and considered a day trip to Versailles. The wretched excess of it is so, well, wretched, that I had decided the only purpose in going would be to grok why 18th-Century French decided to guillotine their royalty.

That’s probably still true, but I’m thinking that maybe that topic is more timely than I realized. In reply to a blog about the Qu’ils mangent du gâteau attitude of Louise Linton, a/k/a Mrs. Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s Treasury Secretary:

Adamant says:
September 13, 2017 at 8:43 pm

Rod, please. I was in Youngstown, OH just the other day, and some very nice folks at a diner assured me that actions like this are an essential part of the 68-dimensional chess needed to drain the swamp. He’s got those globalists right where he wants them.

Republicans, Democrats, nationalist, Libertarians or vegetarians: Goldman effing Sachs always comes out ahead, always remains in charge.

Second look at guillotines?

For those who think Trump is playing 68-dimensional chess, and playing it brilliantly, Rod Dreher has what would be a caution if you weren’t incorrigible. Since you are, it’s pretty much mockery:

One of the best coinages I’ve ever heard is “Mottramism,” coined by the Canadian Catholic Mark Cameron during the priest sexual abuse scandal, when a certain kind of Catholic fell all over himself trying to come up with innocent explanations for why Pope John Paul II hesitated to take action against abusers and the bishops that enabled them. Cameron explained it like this:

I would like to propose a name for this phenomenon of inveterate support for any and all Papal actions, imputing to him wisdom and spiritual insight beyond all the Saints and Popes of past ages: Mottramism.

This takes its name, of course, from Rex Mottram, Julia Flyte’s husband in Brideshead Revisited. At one point, Rex decides to convert to Catholicism in order to have a proper Church wedding with Julia. But the sincerity of his conversion becomes suspect when he is willing to agree with any absurdity proposed in the name of Catholic authority, and shows no intellectual curiosity into its truth or falsehood. As his Jesuit instructor, Father Mowbray describes his catechetical progress:

“Yesterday I asked him whether Our Lord had more than one nature. He said: ‘Just as many as you say, Father.’ Then again I asked him: ‘Supposing the Pope looked up and saw a cloud and said ‘It’s going to rain’, would that be bound to happen?’ ‘Oh, yes, Father.’ ‘But supposing it didn’t?’ He thought a moment and said, “I suppose it would be sort of raining spiritually, only we were too sinful to see it.’”

This useful term should now be deployed to describe supporters of Donald Trump who continue in their docility towards the Great Man despite that fact that he sells them out.

If Trump is brilliantly playing 68-dimensional chess, I’m just too sinful to see it, I guess.

* * * * *

“Liberal education is concerned with the souls of men, and therefore has little or no use for machines … [it] consists in learning to listen to still and small voices and therefore in becoming deaf to loudspeakers.” (Leo Strauss)

There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

2 thoughts on “Friday, 9/15/17

  1. Je m’excuse d’être un pédant, mais la phrase exacte était “qu’ils mangent de la brioche.”

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