Thursday, November 30, 2017

The State of Discourse and The Free Media As 2017 Comes To A Close

It is without reasonable argument that the state of the media has reached a low point in American history. At the same time, the level of discourse in our country  has devolved to a point that is often one step removed from preschool tantrums. This is a dangerous state of affairs as our free and open liberal republic relies in large part on the free exchange of ideas. To make matters worse, the line between civil discourse and political violence has gone from fuzzy to non-existent in just a few years, accelerating into what often appears to be virtual open warfare on our streets and on our campuses. I find myself nostalgic for the good old days when we only dealt with the Robert Bork confirmation hearings and the impeachment of President Clinton. Now speakers on college campuses are routinely assaulted, free speech rallies are met with thuggish street violence that would be at home in pre-Third Reich Germany and your average banana republic, and people sever friendships and even family relationships over political differences.

I came across a perfect example of this just last week. I stumbled across an article about one Debra Messing. I sort of knew the name but I wasn't sure who she was until I read the article, apparently she was one of the stars of Will & Grace, a show I am pleased to report I have never watched. Ms. Messing apparently is mad at the New York Times and has canceled her subscription. I couldn't care less about a washed up actress and her newspaper subscriptions but the reasoning was interesting. She is mad at the New York Times for running what she and others thought of as a puff-piece about a far right, "Nazi-sympathizer" named Tony Hovater. I was intrigued so I read the article for myself.

The first thing you notice is what a soft and gentle headline graced the article: A Voice of Hate in America’s Heartland. That is clearly a sympathetic headline, right? The article itself was actually quite balanced, and featured some actual journalism where the story was not entirely pre-ordained before the first word was typed. Tony Hovater is on the surface a pretty average 29 year old guy, recently married, working at a grill and doing contract work as a welder. I think what really incensed people is that the article didn't go out of the way to paint him as a lunatic, but rather a pretty run of the mill guy who had adopted what are considered to be very extreme views. Richard Fausset, the author of the piece, wrote a follow-up based on the vitriolic feedback to his article where he wrote his reason for the article:
Why did this man — intelligent, socially adroit and raised middle class amid the relatively well-integrated environments of United States military bases — gravitate toward the furthest extremes of American political discourse?
That was the real crime, suggesting that this ideology might appeal to a regular guy and not responding with a caricature. If I was some leftist living in Manhattan, terrified of the scary alt-right types living out in fly-over country, it would seem to me that I would want to understand where they are coming from, the old "seek first to understand and then to be understood" thing. I am not sure how well this article accomplished that but at least he tried. Mr. Hovater is not some drooling, knuckle-dragging mouth-breather who just hates him some colored folk. This is someone who reads the works of Murray Rothbard and Hans-Hermann Hoppe, two writers I also read, and who speaks clearly and intelligently, even if you disagree with him. But that isn't what the readers of the New York Times, people who fancy themselves as smarter and more worldly than the rest of us subscribe to that paper to get. They want red meat (fair trade, vegan, locally sourced, gluten free, soy based red meat of course), just as the readers of Breitbart want red meat. They didn't get it here and while no rational person would see this as a soft sell of far right ideology, that didn't stop readers of the Times from accusing them of "normalizing" neo-Nazi beliefs, an ironic charge given the title of the article and the reality of Tony Hovater being a pretty average guy with un-average beliefs. Kudos to Marc Lacey and the editors of the NYT more or less standing by the piece:
We regret the degree to which the piece offended so many readers. We recognize that people can disagree on how best to tell a disagreeable story. What we think is indisputable, though, is the need to shed more light, not less, on the most extreme corners of American life and the people who inhabit them. That’s what the story, however imperfectly, tried to do.
The aftermath to the story is as predictable as the sun rising in the East. Simply disagreeing and explaining why you disagree is no longer good enough for the Left in America. People figured out, not a difficult task, where Mr. Hovater and his new wife lived and worked. The Washington Post reports that Mr. Hovater both lost his job and is being forced to move: Nazi sympathizer profiled by the New York Times says he lost his job and — soon — his home.
The restaurant’s owners said in a statement Wednesday that they did not know of Hovater’s white nationalist views until the Times article was published. They said the article illustrated “some very disturbing images and thoughts” that they do not share.
The owners also said that they and their other employees have been bombarded with threatening and intimidating calls and social media messages since the article was published. That prompted Hovater to suggest to the owners to “release him from employment,” the statement said. They did so and also fired Hovater’s wife and brother-in-law shortly after.
This is what has become normalized in America. Someone on the right, whether someone as extreme as Tony Hovater or as mild as academic Charles Murray, speaks out and rather than being engaged in the battlefield of ideas they are attacked and threatened with violence. How about a "big statement" in response to that:
People who are willing to threaten and often carry out violence against political views they dislike are far more dangerous to this nation than all of the White nationalists put together.
I sometimes worry a little about this, about whether something I write about homosexuality or gender or immigration will trigger the seemingly limitless ranks of unhinged people on the Left and they will threaten me or my family with violence. This is not an unreasonable concern. I have run into cultists online that I think are dangerous enough that I stopped interacting with them out of concern that they would come after my family. It is way too easy to find out about someone and where they live with a quick search online and while I can take care of myself, my family shouldn't be threatened by lunatics.

If anything, the response from much of the Left simply reinforces the beliefs of people on the far-right, namely that people on the Left are intolerant and prone to violence. It also reinforces my personal belief that we have walked too far out in the desert as a nation and the only way for us to survive peaceably is to divide up now. I agree that ideas can be dangerous, ideas like socialism and communism have been responsible for over 100,000,000 deaths and misery for untold tens of millions more, but I don't see it as my job to combat communism by threatening the lives of communists or actually attacking them. I will argue against them by reason and logic, I will troll and mock them mercilessly but I don't advocate shooting up my political opponents while they practice baseball or jumping them while they are mowing their lawns. Resorting to violence to suppress political speech is the hallmark of brown shirts and Bolsheviks, not free people. If you are really worried about the incipient rise of a resurgent fascism, ask yourself which political movement today is engaged in the sort of behavior that presaged the rise of fascism, communism or other totalitarian movements. It isn't the 29 year old who works at a restaurant and reads Julius Evola.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Nonresistance In An Era Of Church Shootings

June 17, 2015 a young White man named Dylan Roof opened fire at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charlestown, South Carolina. Roof killed 9 black parishioners and was clearly motivated by a desire to ignite racial violence.

September 22, 2017 a Sundanese immigrant Emanuel Kidega Samson opened fire at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee. One person was killed and a number of other people were wounded

November 5, 2017, Devin Kelley, a dishonorably discharged Air Force veteran and militant atheist, enters the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing over two dozen people, including a number of small children.

These are three examples of mass shootings that have occurred at churches over the last two years. I am sure there are others but these are the ones that come to mind.

Now more than ever I am seeing a lot of American Christians asking the question “Is it time for me to arm myself when gathering with the church?” and it is a perfectly understandable question and one that needs more than a simplistic response. My viewpoint on this has been maturing, I hope, over the last year.

First things first, we need to start with some definitions. There are three categories of legally legitimate lethal violence as I see it.
1. Violence in the cause of a nation or state, typically as a member of the military or law enforcement, although I would stipulate that the police often would fall into the second or third categories below.
2. Violence in the defense of one’s self, as an act of self-defense against an aggressor.
3. Violence in the defense of another, such as the shooting of Devin Kelley by a neighbor, an act which likely prevented Kelley from killing even more people.

I have been an absolutist when it comes to nonresistance, in large part as a response to the unquestioning acceptance of violence, including lethal violence, on the part of the church. The church in America has a serious issue where it comes to our love affair with the American military and that is deeply unhealthy.

In practice this means that I have generally treated all three types of lethal violence above in the same way. If it is wrong to kill as a soldier it is wrong to kill in self-defense and it is wrong to kill to defend someone else. It is simpler to look at it that way because it helps neuter some of the “Oh yeah, what about...” gotcha questions.

Looking at each in turn and treating them as distinct although closely related issues gives us a slightly different view.

State Sanctioned Violence, Especially The Military

The first category is, in my opinion, the easiest to reject from a Scriptural and practical sense. It is also one of the hardest to address in the church in America because of our unhealthy love affair with the flag and the military. While war is a reality of human existence, one that will not go away in my lifetime or prior to the return of the Lord, and while Scripture teaches that the sword is placed in the hand of the government as represented by Caesar, that doesn't mean that war is inherently noble or something Christians should engage in.

Very few wars would qualify as a truly justifiable war in American history. Not Vietnam or Korea or World War I. Not even the Civil War which was absolutely not fought to rid America of slavery but instead was fought to keep the Union together. Our wars are generally not defensive in any sense and usually were fought over territory, empire or some sense of misplaced national pride.

Even in the case of World War II, the United States both engaged in atrocities like the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo in addition to the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that were all designed to strike terror into the civilian population and sap the will of the government to continue the fight, as well as the complicity of the United States in allying ourselves with the brutal totalitarian government of the Soviet Union, whose forces engaged in all sorts of inhumane behavior and who enslaved and murdered millions upon millions of people in Russia and Eastern Europe for decades after Adolf Hitler was dead. Our “good war” which serves as the trump card for pro-military Christians was hardly a flawless war and was arguably the extension of our foolish intervention in World War I.

In summary, Christians should not be involved as participants nor should we support wars of aggression, wars where you are being sent at the command of Caesar to kill either fellow Christians or the people you are supposed to evangelize. While I can make a weak case for Christian involvement of a sort in defensive wars, there have been very few of those (the war of 1812?) and in general soldiers don't get to pick and choose which wars they get to fight in. The soundest policy for Christians is to not serve as soldiers for Caesar.

Violence In Self-Defense

The second category is a little harder but still for me ultimately is an area Christians should adopt a nonresistance/nonviolence position and that is using violence to defend yourself, specifically defending your life.

The New Testament is replete with what appear to be admonitions to not use violence to defend oneself. In Matthew 5:39 Jesus says "Do not resist the one who is evil". We are told to overcome evil by doing good to those who wrong us (Romans 12:21). Jesus Himself stated: "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28). Paul saw dying for the sake of the Gospel as far better than remaining in this world:
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. (Philippians 1:21-23)
So killing someone else to preserve my own life seems counter-productive to me. There is an argument to be made that my family needs me for a variety of reasons that would support self-preservation but compared to the commands of Christ and Paul it is a pretty weak argument.

Violence to Protect Others

The third category is where my absolutist convictions waver. Protecting your friends or family or even strangers when they are in danger from an evil person is hard to argue against. It goes against our nature to stand by when someone is being hurt, especially as a man. I understand and have argued on many occasions that there are other options besides pulling a gun or standing meekly by but in some cases there are just not many options.

I have a solemn and sacred obligation to my family which includes providing for them (1 Timothy 5:8) and educating my children. It is hard to not feel that protecting them from evil doers would fall under my obligations as a father and husband. If someone was threatening my wife and kids and I have the means to stop that someone from harming them, whether that means tackling the would-be assailant or punching him in the nose or hitting him with a baseball bat or pulling a trigger, it would seem to be the lesser of two evils to stop an evil man by violence rather than let him hurt my wife and kids. The counter-argument, which again I have used, is that the lesser of two evils is still evil but then again the alternative is also evil and the greater of the two. Sometimes there just isn't a good option. I am not talking about seeking out an opportunity to shoot someone but evil men can and do seek people out, whether in homes or a school or a church.

I wouldn't want to drive people away with an absolutist position that leaves no room for discernment. There is something deeply distasteful about being in a position to protect your family and not doing so. I might be able to craft a fancy theological argument in favor of nonresistance in that situation but in real life if someone was seriously threatening my wife or kids I am pretty confident that those arguments would fly out of the window and I would do anything in my power to keep them from harm. Anything. I am just as sure that even the most dyed in the wool pacifist would do the same thing if push came to shove and claiming otherwise seems sort of dishonest to me. That isn't really a failure to trust God, I have always worked for a living so I could pay for food to feed my kids instead of sitting around the table waiting for God to provide food in a manna in the desert manner. It is the reality of living in a fallen world. Some of my kids have not professed faith in Christ yet (and may never do so). My wife deserves my protection and my kids need their mother. To let someone harm them when it is in my power to prevent that is just not something I am sure I can argue in favor of anymore.

This is not an easy position to come to. I still find myself arguing internally even as I type these words. But I also have to wrestle between an "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" argument and what I prayerfully feel I am obliged to do in the event of a threat to my friends, family or innocent strangers. I also realize this is a largely theoretical discussion as it is extraordinarily unlikely that I or anyone reading this post will ever have to choose between two highly distasteful and disturbing options. Furthermore I am still hashing this question over and I have been for some time but the recent shootings in Texas and the chatter on social media in response prompted me to take this conversation public. So this is where I am right now. I sincerely pray that God will never allow me in a place where I have to put this to the test.

So ought Christians come to the gathering of the church tomorrow armed in case they need to stop an armed assailant bent on murder? I am not going to but I am also not going to condemn those that do. This is not an issue where one can defend the practice by pointing to the two swords conversation in Scripture or by the appeal to the "live by the sword, die by the sword" argument as both sides of that coin have specific redemptive-historical meaning that defies simple pigeon-holing into a marginally related issue. I think this is a serious question to ponder because as we see violence escalating, especially from people who have religious or political reasons to attack Christians, it is not going to diminish. I would not be surprised to see copycat attacks over the rest of this year. So it is a conversation we need to be having in humility and charity toward one another. That is a pretty tall order in this day and age but that is something the church, if nowhere else in our society, should be able to do.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

The Election That Never Ended

One year ago on November 8th, 2016, the day started as so many other election days have for me since my earliest recollection of an election, the 1980 landslide of Ronald Reagan that I watched with my die-hard Democrat grandparents (they didn't have a good night). As I have in every significant election since I turned 18 I went to the polls and as I have in most elections since 1992 I went to the polls with my wife. I cast my vote for Gary Johnson, as I did in 2012, because I simply couldn't pull the lever for Trump, partly for reasons of character and partly because he just isn't terribly conservative in any traditional sense, although in the last twelve months I have found myself less and less identified with traditional conservatism as well.

I am a pretty skeptical/cynical person on almost any topic and especially when it comes to the media but I admit I bought into the polling data. It was so overwhelming and so uniform and I have such a low opinion of many of my fellow Americans that I assumed that a woman who should be on trial would instead be elected and become the first female President of the United States. I actually was feeling kind of poorly that evening so after dinner I went upstairs to lay down for a bit but my wife and kids watched the returns. I came back down late in the evening when things were a toss up still and we watched the returns on the network news and PBS as well as on the internet. Watching the mostly leftist media talking heads slowly melting down online was pretty funny and at the end of the night, in the middle of the night in fact, I watched the Trump victory speech.

What has transpired since has been nothing less than surreal. The pundits who assumed Hillary would win warned about the danger of violence from Trump supporters when he inevitably lost and a refusal to accept the results in spite of the evidence to the contrary. Since the election there has been plenty of denial, hysterics and violence but it has been almost entirely one-sided from liberals/progressives. From the rise of the antifa to the Jill Stein led recounts to the endless searching for any ties between Russia and the Trump campaign to the relentless negative press and made up stories, culminating recently in the blatantly edited video of Trump dumping food to koi immediately after the Japanese Prime Minister did the exact same thing, the assault on Trump and the electoral process has been vicious and unending. The difference between the way Trump supporters and others on the Right view the election results and the way progressives and far Left voters view it is proof positive that we live in different worlds. We have experienced some of this with family members "unfriending" my wife and I on Facebook because we didn't support Hillary and our experience is far from uncommon. The nation is incredibly divided and ironically but not unexpectedly that division is being driven by those most likely to call Trump divisive.

From calls to arbitrarily abolish the electoral college to articles of impeachment being drawn up for no other reason than political posturing, not to mention the endless primal screams for attention from Hillary Clinton who unsurprisingly lacks the grace to quietly accept she lost and move on with her life, we are in a Ground Hog Day scenario where the election seems to be replayed over and over.


A year later the election is still contested in some corners, like the ridiculous fail last weekend where the antifa were going to come charging out of their parent's basements and overthrow the "Trump regime" which ended up being a handful of tiny protests that no one paid any attention to. There has been a great deal of political violence, again almost entirely from leftists. People were assured that the rise of Trump would lead to a wave of "hate crimes" and when that didn't materialize we have instead been treated to a lengthy series of hoax hate crimes that are breathlessly reported on by the media when first announced and then conveniently forgotten once they are shown to be self-inflicted or otherwise hoaxes.

Meanwhile the Trump presidency has been what you would expect. Twitter fights with people, brashness, chaos. What I didn't expect but should have is how much pushback Trump would get from other Republicans like Mitch McConnell and Jeff Flake not to mention faux-conservatives like Bill Kristol and most of National Review. I figured the Left would fight Trump tooth and nail but I didn't expect the level of petty suicidal political shenanigans from the GOP. It is apparent that many Republicans like the former Presidents Bush would rather have had a liberal Clinton White House as long as she didn't upset the establishment apple cart. If nothing else Trump deserves credit for exposing as phonies most "conservatives" in D.C., plus his nomination of Justice Gorsuch to the Supreme Court who appears to be a slam-dunk.

While most of the elections since last November have gone the way of conservative and populist Republicans, Democrats did win the governor's races in blue state New Jersey and in Virginia last night, both races that would have been easy wins but for the ridiculous truck video in Virginia. The media has been desperate for a win to pronounce a backlash against Trump and I am sure they will latch on to two elections that were almost a given to say "See, see! People are turning against Trump!" when in reality the same people that told us Hillary had a 90%+ chance of winning the day of the election are also telling us that people they clearly don't understand and truthfully despise are turning on Trump. Color me skeptical.

The real test will be next November when a ton of vulnerable Democrat Senators are up for re-election including my own Senator trying to win reelection in a state with essentially no state-level Democrat elected officials. If it goes as I expect, we should see a substantial gain for the GOP in the Senate which would be better news if Mitch McConnell wasn't the majority leader. If Trump has a larger majority in the Senate to work with and the economy keeps chugging along, and if we get the wall built and avoid any new wars, I think Trump is in a good position to be re-elected in 2020, especially if the Dems nominate some crazed liberal that makes people nervous.

I am starting to see some fatigue, the reduced enthusiasm of the protests and the general fizzling out of the anger against Trump after a fever pitch for a year. It would be interesting to see what Trump could get done if he didn't have to fight with the media (and his own party) over every single issue and koi pond but the ideologues in the media are so out in the open in declaring war against Trump that I don't see that happening.

As I said, it has been a surreal year since the 2016 election. It will be an equally crazy ride over the next twelve months leading up to the 2018 elections, especially if there is a war or a Supreme Court vacancy. You better buckle up, it is going to be a bumpy ride!

Monday, November 06, 2017

The Amish Get'n R Dun

Yesterday we had a pretty heavy storm roll through the area including a brief period of high winds. We lost power but didn't think much of it until we got a call that a local business had been damaged. It is an Amish owned pallet shop and we know the family quite well so we took some friends over to survey the damage. It was pretty extensive....

The wind flipped an empty semi trailer on its side

A 2x4 driven through the inner ceiling. 

The tin from the roof left quite a debris field

One large piece of tin landed on a power line

This is the loading dock and pallet storage

As you can see, pretty extensive damage. This is a large building with lots of machinery but luckily it was a Sunday so no one was inside working. The family shored up the rafters as another front was moving in and then waited until today.

Whatever else you may say about them, when there is a crisis the Amish community always comes together. Many men skipped their regular work today and were on site before 7 AM to help. Lots of women were there as well to make sure things were cleaned up and the guys got fed. For most of the day I would estimate there were 75-100 people at work. By the middle of the day the rest of the tin was off and they were removing the soaked insulation, making quite a mess in the storage area where pallets are normally kept....

The insulation was falling like snow and was a foot deep in places.

By the end of the day, what seemed like it would be a week long project to get the business back up and running instead had the place looking like nothing had happened...

A brand new roof viewed from the east.

The loading dock area with the new roof in places

The pallet storage with the floor swept clean and full of pallets again
A brand new roof was in place, the mess inside was largely cleaned up and the tin scattered around the nearby fields was collected and hauled away with the wooden debris burned.

In a world that seems to be tearing itself apart, it was a refreshing reminder that human beings still care for each other and step up when others are in need. I really needed that reminder with everything else that is going on. I don't think we can afford to bunker up and just assume the world will leave us alone but I do think we need to build strong communities to face the days that are coming.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Protestant Reformation At 500: So Much Recovered, So Much More To Reform

Happy Reformation Day!

So many others have written far more comprehensively and eloquently about the significance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation that I don't feel the need to embarrass myself by rewriting more poorly what others have already written. What I mostly am today is thankful.

Thankful that I have the Bible translated and readily available in my own language (which coincidentally is not 17th century Olde English). Thankful that because of that I can know that I don't need to impress God with my own self-serving and feeble attempts to be righteous. Thankful that I know the church is the community of the redeemed being equipped for the work of ministry, not a dispenser and controller of "grace". Thankful that no human being has the right or authority to stand between me and my Lord. Thankful that salvation is freely offered to all and is not something to be purchased by the rich. Thankful that the Lord Himself is allowed to be the head of His own church.

It was an imperfect, incomplete Reformation led by imperfect and often deeply flawed men but then again the apostles were flawed men as well. There was so much accomplished and recovered and renewed by the Reformers, Magisterial and Radical alike, but there remains much work to be done before the Lord returns and nowhere is that more true than in the church. It is the task of every believer, and especially the brethren, to continue to reform the church to restore her to a family of God that is ready for the harsh days which are to come.

We must never lose sight of what was once almost lost and what was recovered at such great cost during the Reformation and never trade that for a false ecumenical unity or abandon it at the demand of the world. Far from being irrelevant today, the principles of the Reformation are every bit as desperately needed today as they were in Wittenberg 500 years ago.

Sola Gratia 

Sola Fide 

Solus Christus

Sola Scriptura  

Soli Deo Gloria

Let that be our battle cry. By grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone under the authority of the Scriptures alone for the glory of God alone.

Thank you Lord for that obscure monk Martin Luther who five hundred years ago took a bold if unwitting step and in doing so changed the world forever. May we who are in our own ways his successors live lives worthy of the sacrifice of Luther and so many others to hold fast to the truth of the Gospel over this half millennium.

Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda

"the reformed church must always be reformed"

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Peace With God

One of the best parts of Romans is that it is chock full of powerful verses that by themselves are deeper than ten theology books. Romans 5:1 is one of those.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
Peace with God. What is that? It is the change of status between a sinner and God, man once being lost and an enemy of God, now being at peace with Him.

How? Through faith alone. Not by works of human righteousness. Not by religious ritual. Through faith alone.

Faith in what? In Christ alone. The righteousness of the man made right with God, a man who has gone from being an enemy of God to having peace with God and not just peace but being made part of God's family through adoption, comes not from anything we have done to please God but by our faith in Christ who did all that was required to propitiate our sins.

By faith alone in Christ alone. That glorious truth is what had been shrouded in darkness for over 1000 years by the man-made religion of Rome.

Exactly 500 years ago today, on October 29th, 1517 which was apparently a Monday, a monk named Martin Luther was probably already writing out his 95 theses or at least was giving serious thought to what they would be. Two days later he would walk to the church in Wittenberg, Germany to nail those theses to a door. I cannot imagine he had any idea what this would cause, that this spark of unintentional rebellion would strike the tinder of a people sick to death of Rome and her empty religion and eager for the Gospel.

By grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. That is the only path to justification and peace with God. Peace is found in Christ alone, not in religion, not in a church, not dispensed by a man.

In Christ alone.

Solus Christus!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Liberal Male Misogyny And Harvey Weinstein

One of the recurring topics I have on this blog is the trait I have noticed among male liberals where they hold pretty ugly views of women that they hide under feminist rhetoric until they get the chance to unload on a "safe" target, usually a conservative woman. They also usually get a pass from other liberals because of the target of their ugliness being conservatives.

Which brings us to Harvey Weinstein, and once the initial accusations of sexual mischief started the floodgates opened. The "casting couch" idea has been a running "joke" for decades and Weinstein himself was the butt of several jokes specifically poking fun at his reputation of being a lecherous creep but he was a good liberal guy and made lots of successful films so people looked the other way. I am not going to recount the accusations but needless to say that in spite of the dozens of women that have come forward to accuse him of harassment, groping and outright sexual assault I am confident there are plenty of other women that traded their youth and sexuality for parts in Weinstein films.

It also sounds like this has been known for a long time and nobody did anything until they were forced to by the viral news story. In spite of his apparently well-known sexual proclivities as it pertains to very young starlets, Weinstein was a favorite among liberals. Along with the grotesque, stomach churning pictures of Weinstein pawing and grabbing actresses like Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Watson, there are lots of these making the rounds.

Why would self-proclaimed liberal champions of women be willing to pal around with this corpulent serial abuser? At least with Bill Clinton it is perhaps because they were kindred souls but for the others I am sure it has nothing to do with the huge amounts of money Weinstein raised for Democrats via direct donations and lavish fund-raisers. Keep in mind that these are the same sort of people who say that Donald Trump is unfit for office because of a sexist comment he made years ago but who mug for the cameras with an actual sexual abuser because he writes them checks.

But I think the bigger issue is that there simply is a different standard when it comes to liberal men versus conservative men. "You have to have sex with me in order to get this part" is OK when it is a liberal saying it but a rather dubious report of a comment by Clarence Thomas, "There's a pubic hair on my Coke can", is a disqualifier when said by a conservative. It isn't like Weinstein is alone in his misbehavior that is overlooked when you are the right kind of celebrity.

Look at some other Hollywood darlings.

Woody Allen married Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of his one time girlfriend Mia Farrow, beginning with an affair with the girl while still romantically attached to her mother and has been accused of molestation by other children. Yet Woody is still a favorite among the jet-setter crowd. Personally I never found him amusing or interesting, just mostly a self-important dork that was equally creepy.

Roman Polanski actually drugged and raped a 13 year old girl at the home of another weird cat, Jack Nicholson, and fled the U.S. in 1977. Prior to that he was in a "romantic" relationship with actress Nastassja Kinski who was under 18 at the time. Polanski would have been around 43 at the time, or almost my age. Since then he has gotten a little less creepy by marrying Emmanuelle Seigner who is a mere 33 years younger than he is. All of this time he has been living in Europe as he cannot come back to the U.S. without being arrested. That hasn't stopped him from making films fawned over by his Hollywood pals, including the overrated The Pianist which was nominated for 7 and won 3 Academy Awards, including a Best Director for Polanski. A man uses his position of power to rape one 13 year old girl and carry on a sexual relationship with another young teenage girl, and those are only the ones we know of and there are almost certainly more as his current marriage reinforces his hankering for very young women. Regardless Hollywood doesn't care, and many celebrities including female stars, pine for his return to America.

In the same way that the Left hypocritically yammers about "Black Lives" mattering when it is a politically useful black life and looks the other way when the black lives are the far more numerous lives lost to black-on-black violence and the abortion industry, so to does the Left talk a big show about caring about women and being "feminists" when they can advance their broader political agenda but not caring too much about women, sexual assault, sexual harassment, use of power by men to coerce sex out of women or outright rape them or any other form of misogyny when carried out by one of their allies. The left did all it could to keep Clarence Thomas off the Supreme Court because of the spurious accusations of Anita Hill but lionized serial adulterer and woman killer (literally) Ted Kennedy and still lauds accused rapist Bill Clinton because he is one of their own.

Don't be fooled by the rhetoric. The Left only cares about people when they are politically useful. When a woman is just a wannabe starlet desperate for her big break and offered that break by a grotesque pervert in exchange for sex, nobody cares about her. It is just the ways things are done. The same girl caught in a compromising position with a conservative though becomes a cause in and of herself.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

A Response To Lecrae, Jemar Tisby, Thabiti Anyabwile And Anyone Else Who Cares To Listen

As pretty much everyone knows, evangelicalism and especially conservative evangelicalism is a mostly White thing. Apparently that is a negative.

According to this fairly baffling post from John Piper, 116 Been Real, Lecare Moore, who simply goes by Lecrae, kind of like Cher and Madonna, is distancing himself from "white evangelicalism". I don't know much about Lecrae and I don't listen to his stuff but he has a fairly large following among white evangelicals, especially of the Reformed type.

Based what Piper is saying, he listened to the interview and I just don't have the time, Lecrae is distancing himself in part based on three "experiences", as listed below from Piper's article.
- First, Lecrae’s friend, Tyree Boyd-Pates, the Curator of History for the California African American Museum, told him, “You have said some things that were poignant and provocative for black people, but the phenotype of your music was not black . . . sonically it wasn’t resonating with our soul. . . . It’s like [the] ‘I have a dream’ speech over a rock record.”
- Second, the Washington Post called him an “evangelical mascot.”
- Third, he went public with his dismay over the Michael Brown shooting, and woke up to the reality that this “white evangelical” world did not feel what he felt. “The visceral attacks that came my way were like a shock to my system. That did some identity work.”
Based on this, Mr. Moore is going to "turn (his) back on white evangelicalism"
If I turn my back on white evangelicalism, who am I? If we disagree on . . . Black Lives and social justice, and I’m not getting pats on the back from John Piper, then who am I now? . . . For years that had been what was shaping my identity. . . . If I’m not the evangelical darling, who is Lecrae? . . . 
Getting  a pat on the back from John Piper? How patronizing and insulting. Maybe Piper helped expand Mr. Moore's audience because he appreciated his music and what he had to say but to then reduce it to Piper humoring Lecrae and giving him a "pat on the back" is nothing less than spitting in Piper's face. Then Piper goes on to say this:
Do you see yet why I respond to Lecrae’s “identity development work” with thankfulness? I know young men whose disillusionment with “white evangelicalism” was not as painful as Lecrae’s, and yet they threw the brown baby of Bethlehem out with the white bathwater. They’re done with Christianity. Done with the Bible. Done with Jesus — except the one they create to fit their present political mood. That could have been Lecrae. It could be you. 
Um, so I guess we are supposed to be glad Lecrae has embraced his black identity, something Piper would no doubt condemn in a white person publicly embracing their white identity, because at least he didn't leave the faith totally. Would Piper say the same about a white singer who espoused kinism after the shooting up of a church by a black man in Tennessee a few weeks ago? Piper doesn't seem excited about a lot of what Lecrae says in his interview but he also seems overly focused on "White evangelicalism" being synonymous with support of Trump and opposition to the neo-Marxist Black Lives Matter movement. I sort of don't think Piper understands the subject he is talking about here, either Lecrae and his dismissal and distancing himself from white evangelicalism or what exactly it is that white evangelicals care about or why we do what we do. I might go further and say that Piper seems a lot more concerned with "creating space" and "extending grace" to Lecrae than he is to his fellow white evangelicals and that to me is problematic.

The main problem I have though are with Lecrae's three "experiences" and why those are leading him to distance himself and create barriers between himself and white evangelicals.

Like a fine Beretta double gun I am going to let loose with both barrels.

Disclaimer: I don't listen to rap of any sort and haven't since a brief flirtation with Ice-T and N.W.A. back in high school in the 80's and I generally don't listen to "Christian" music at all so you might think I don't have a dog in this fight, with apologies to Michael Vick. However I do like John Piper and I also happen to be one of those lame, awful White evangelicals (although not one that voted for Trump) and it turns out I am sorta tired of being hectored, harangued, scolded, finger-wagged. I am endlessly told I need to feel guilty, that I need to apologize for my phantom "White privilege" and that I am a part of the group that somehow is collectively to blame for every ill, even the obviously self-inflicted ills, of an entire race of people that I have had very little interaction with of any kind in my life. So yeah, this article was like a matador waving a cape in front of me and I freely admit it made me pretty grumpy.

On the first "experience"... 

Lecrae being told his music isn't "black": "You have said some things that were poignant and provocative for black people, but the phenotype of your music was not black". So I guess his rap was too white? And that makes it therefore illegitimate?

Lecrae seems to have fallen victim to the cult of “authentic blackness” where some blacks get to determine for all other blacks what they are allowed to think, say, sing, wear and believe in order to qualify as authentic. I am not black so I don't understand it but it seems unaccountably powerful. Step outside of orthodoxy and the cult leaders rain down on you like the wrath of God, you become an Uncle Tom, are accused of trying to be white, etc. Like I said, I don't get this. No one says to me that if I don't like Polka music that I am not authentically Polish and I have never heard anyone say that the phenotype of any Polish musician, whatever that means, was not white. It is a very strange cultural phenomenon and if I may be so bold it seems to be a control mechanism for those who want to keep blacks from straying from black racial orthodoxy.

On the second "experience"....

The far left Post which hates all things Christian called him an "evangelical mascot".

That is a pretty cheap and clumsy and obvious shot and Lecrae seems to have swallowed it hook, line and sinker. If I may be super un-PC, if you are a prominent black man and you are going to leave the PC plantation, you better expect to get some backlash. Nothing is less permitted by our culture overlords than a black man who doesn't parrot leftist orthodoxy (see: Thomas, Clarence).

Pardon my French but how much of a fool do you have to be to get so easily sucked in by such an obvious and blatant cheap shot? I don't know much about Lecrae but I would think he would have more wisdom and discernment than to be led around by the nose by the WaPo. Standing for the truth means some slings and arrows and if you aren't wise enough and man enough to stand up to that, well that says a great deal about your character I am afraid.

On the third "experience"....

Lecrae expressed his opinion on the Michael Brown shooting, an unfortunate event but a justifiable shooting, but was apparently shocked when not everyone and especially not his white audience agreed with him. Wow, I hate it when I say something and not everyone agrees with me. According to the interview this caused "some identity work". So let me get this straight. A fairly complex case that got a lot of attention but it was a pretty clear case of justifiable use of force, caused Lecrae to do some "identity work", a phrase that smacks of some pretty heavy racial identitarianism. Even Jonathan Capehart, a member of the leftist Washington Post editorial board and a contributor for similarly left-wing MSNBC wrote: "(The Justice Department report) also forced me to deal with two uncomfortable truths: Brown never surrendered with his hands up, and Wilson was justified in shooting Brown." (emphasis mine).

I don't get why the Michael Brown case has become the bellwether for alleged police brutality. What exactly is it about a huge, probably very strong guy attacking a cop and getting shot for it that is a racially dividing issue? As I recall, Michael Brown was 6' 4" tall and weighed around 292 pounds. That is about the size of a college or even pro football offensive or defensive lineman. During my year of college at Ohio State, my roommate had a class with a center for the football team and one day his classmate stopped by our dorm room. He was enormous but he was probably not quite as big as Michael Brown. Sure Brown was not "armed" but believe me a 6'4", almost 300 pound adult (he was 18) is plenty dangerous especially when he apparently is attacking a cop and going for his gun.

As a relative nobody that has made a career out of going against the grain, you kind of have to have a little spine and thick skin. If people don't agree with you, taking your ball and going home is not going to do a darn thing to change anything and done on a large scale in this context it simply increases racial polarization. If that is the goal, and while I don't think it is for Lecrae it certainly is for many in BLM and similar groups, then at least be open about it.

That raises a question and comment for me. Why is it OK for Lecrae to self-identify within the church based on his race and openly choose to identify himself with that racial subset and reject or at least “distance” himself from people of other races but if I do the same thing I would be labeled a bigot and racist? Or do we operate under two sets of rules in the church when it comes to race, whites have to reach out and seek to be more "diverse" but blacks can self-segregate and that is OK?

If you think this is OK from Lecrae but the Alt-Right and White nationalism is a problem you are either naive or ignorant or both.

That is why the post from Piper seems so confused and schizophrenic and I don't understand it so I am chalking it up to the general disconnect when we talk about race. I don't think Piper would tolerate this coming from a white evangelical but he seems to sort of tolerate it coming from a black evangelical. Piper seems sincere and he has a track record to back up what he is saying. I just hope he doesn't stumble down the Russell Moore path where virtue signaling engulfs his public ministry because Piper has an important voice and I would hate to see it lost in political correctness like Moore.

We are seemingly as far away from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream of a nation where men are judged by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin as we were in August of 1963 when he gave his speech but ironically many people who claim the contemporary mantle of King are the ones who judge others on their skin color. This is only exacerbated by the Trump Presidency. Jemar Tisby, Thabiti Anyabwile and others seem bent on flogging white evangelicals for the sins of Trump in a way that I don't recall anyone doing the reverse of during the Obama presidency. Thabiti openly expressed that he supported Hillary Clinton over Trump and no one is more a fan of seeing dead black babies than Hillary. Many black evangelicals seem to be doing what so many accuse white evangelicals of, putting their racial self-interest, misplaced though I think it is, over their Kingdom allegiance.

There has never been a time when black Christians are more in need of the words of Paul in his second letter to the church in Corinth where he wrote:
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)
Black Lives Matter is a pagan, ungodly, anti-Christian organization that thrives on causing racial discord. Those who choose to associate with and show affinity toward it rather than "white evangelicalism" are absolutely no different from those who espouse kinism and white separatism in the church. If white evangelicals making common cause with the GOP and Trump is unequal yoking, how much more so is it when black evangelicals make common cause with BLM?

If you want to associate with me in the church because of our shared redemption in Christ, then cool. I welcome that. If you don't want to associate with me in spite of our shared redemption in Christ because of my skin color and my affiliation with "White evangelicalism" and you prefer to elevate your racial identity above your Kingdom identity, then I can't help that and if I am being totally honest I really don't care or have any interest in working up much concern. Just don't act like your racial separatism is somehow noble and principled while that of Richard Spencer or Jared Taylor is evil.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Dissolving The Union: Our Incommensurable Americas

Peter Murphy, writing for Quadrant Online, has penned one of the most piercing analysis of the division in America I have read in his essay Two Incommensurable Americas, I had to look that word up but now I like it and plan on using it a lot. It's primary definition is:

1. not commensurable; having no common basis, measure, or standard of comparison.

That is a good way of describing America today, two (or perhaps more) Americas that have no common basis. I like the first half of his essay a lot, I think he has a great deal that is wise and accurate to say about the state of America and our sharp division. Here was my favorite part:
This is what the American “middle” now looks like. It is filled with graceless, cumbersome, knotty and embarrassing jerry-built pieces of legislation that claim to bridge what is in fact an unbridgeable chasm. The truth is that the two truths of American life cannot be reconciled. There is no meaningful in-between. There is no fuzzy logic that can square program spending and deficit reduction, balanced budgets and massive expenditure on infrastructure. Americans can see this. Tired of the political charade, they have been quietly separating themselves along geographical lines. In the last twenty-five years the number living in red and blue “electoral landslide” counties has risen from 40 to 60 per cent of the voting population. In step, the American political middle has shrunk. In 1994 49 per cent of American voters held “mixed” ideological views. In 2014 it was 39 per cent.
I think his solution is less workable, because it is based on everyone moving to places they like while maintaining the union. The problem there is obvious to me, I can live in a low tax state but I still am part of a big tax, big Federal government. They are not going to "leave me alone" in Indiana and as long as people in D.C. can cater to voters in California and New York by taxing and regulating me, my autonomy to move around within that system is not going to really help me. He also seems to be down on living near kinfolk as a support mechanism because he seems to think it traps people in opiod hellholes.

The "pick up and move" instead of relying on kin model is understandable but I think it also contributes to the fragmentation of family life where young families rely on daycare to raise their children because they are nowhere near their family and old people get stuck in homes because their kids moved away. It also, and I say this from personal experience, leads to kids that are not rooted and have trouble making connections outside of their own immediate family because "neighborhoods" are so fleeting and transitory.

Like I said, the essay is well worth your time to read for the first half because he just nails it on a lot of points. I also like something else he mentioned, the role of the Calvinist ethic in America. As he wrote, the secret Calvinists worked out a long time ago is this: "If you want a successful life then work hard and learn to read big books for yourself." Amen to that!

Give it a read and consider what he says and how it applies to our rapidly dissolving union.

Las Vegas: Some Perspective

The mass shooting in Las Vegas last weekend was a horror show however you slice it. I am not in any way diminishing the horrific nature of what this man did, presuming that the story we have so far is accurate. But in light of the weird American relationship with firearms across the political spectrum, I think it is important to look at a little history and perhaps gain a little perspective.

Las Vegas wasn't the worst mass killing in American history. Not even close. The biggest mass killing in U.S. history happened on September 11th, 2001. Around 3,000 people died that day and our country and the world itself were changed irreversibly, and not for the better. The weapons they used were airplanes. They were not discouraged by "gun control" laws, which are really citizen control laws, they simply used a different method to carry out their mass killing.

In 1995, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols set off an explosive outside of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. I was in college at the time and remember watching the footage in the Student Union on the TV but at that time I had no idea how bad it was. The death toll was awful and would be the benchmark for six years. Around 168 people were killed and over 680 wounded. 19 of the murdered were children. 

The bomb was primarily a type of AN/FO device, ammonium nitrate/fuel oil, that was in barrels in a rented truck. The primary ingredients is ammonium nitrate which is very, very common and has been used in a number of bombings. It is common because it is used to fertilize corn fields, I am sure there is enough on farms in spring in a small circle around my house to make a very powerful bomb indeed.

McVeigh had a handgun with him but he didn't use it. He didn't need to in order to kill 168 people.

In Europe where most nations have very restrictive gun control for civilians, the inability to obtain guns hasn't stopped terrorists. In July of last year in Nice, France 87 people were killed and over 400 wounded by a Muslim man driving a truck into a crowd. There have been multiple truck attacks that have killed a bunch of people in places like London and Berlin. On multiple occasions hundreds of people have died in airline bombings like the Lockerbie bombing (270 killed). In 2004 in Madrid train bombings killed 192 people and injured 2000 more. Almost on a weekly basis there are non-firearm related terrorist attacks around the world, in Edmonton and France and England. With backpack bombs or trucks or knives and machetes, evil men commit acts of evil.

It should be pretty obvious that people bent of committing mass acts of violence, as opposed to those committing more localized acts, can pretty easily find ways to do so with or without guns.

So what is it about guns? It has a lot to do with the stark differences in opinion on gun ownership in America. Many people never grew up around guns for hunting and sport shooting and to them guns are terrifying. In many urban neighborhoods, a gun shot is cause to hit the floor. Where I live in the country, the sound of gun fire from my neighbor across the street barely warrants notice. A lot of it is also political. The idea of private citizens possessing firearms is both repulsive and frightening to many people and events like Las Vegas are ripe for political exploitation.

Some people point to the widespread epidemic of gun violence on a smaller scale and say that is a reason to ban or more heavily regulate guns but the hard reality is that the smaller scale gun violence is pretty limited in scope and in geography. In 2016 alone Chicago experienced 762 murders which works out to 63.5 per month. In other words, Chicago had a death toll higher than Las Vegas every single month for an entire year. So far this year there have been over 500 murders in Chicago with 3 months left in the year, including most recently 4 day old Jenae Lemon who was delivered early after her mother was shot and killed but ended up passing away 4 days later. The uncomfortable truth is that apart from a handful of high profile mass shootings, the vast majority of firearms violence in this country involved guns used by criminals and that criminal behavior is heavily skewed by geography and race. An estimated 7% of Americans, black men, commit in excess of 50% of all murders. A few counties in urban areas like Chicago, Detroit and Baltimore account for a majority of gun violence and an awful lot of counties have essentially zero gun violence despite the fact that those counties, like mine, have extraordinary rates of firearm ownership. I would be surprised if more than a couple of homes in a five mile radius of me are without at least one firearm and many are multi-gun homes like mine.

Depending on what number you use there are in excess of 300,000,000 privately owned firearms in America already and more are manufactured and sold everyday. Any efforts to limit gun ownership are bound to fail and any attempt to mass confiscate firearms would lead to incredible violence. America has always had a lot of guns but has not always had anywhere close to this level of gun violence which begs the question: what has changed?

If we are not willing to ask the harder questions we will continue to see the same response to gun violence, gun control advocates reflexively calling for more laws and restrictions after every high profile shooting and gun ownership advocates digging in their heels and refusing to budge in inch. That makes for good political theater but does nothing to solve the problem.

Las Vegas has the sad distinction of being the biggest single mass shooting in American history but it is an example of a fairly rare event. Gun violence in general in America is the more serious problem but an unwillingness to face the facts ensures that nothing will ever be done.

We don't have a gun violence crisis, we have a moral crisis and only a moral solution will make a dent in the slaughter.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Dissolving The Union: Cowlandia

As part of a series, in a prior post on my other blog (I am moving this series to my main blog), I took a stab at my first new nation to be formed from the dissolution of the United States, a combination of the northeastern states into an independent nation I called The Yankee States of America.

As I said in that post, that one was probably the easiest because the Northeast is so homogeneous in terms of it's political and cultural attitudes and it would even allow them to keep their bitter sportsball rivalries intact. The Y.S.A. is the cleanest and neatest of the new nations to create.

As you move away from the Northeast, things get more complicated because of the stark difference between the urban and suburban/rural areas in the rest of the country. Even seemingly monolithic California has 53 Congressmen and of those 39 are Democrats and 14 are Republicans, so over a quarter of California's delegation is Republican. But there are other considerations beyond strictly political considerations, specifically cultural connections between regions. Thus I present for your consideration..

The first thing you might notice about Cowlandia is that it is HUGE in terms of land size. These 11 states, not counting the parts of states like Nevada, Washington and New Mexico, combine for over 1.1 million square miles. Since the entire U.S., counting Alaska,  is about 3.5 million square miles, Cowlandia would be almost a third of the entire U.S. landmass and at that size would be the sixth largest nation in the world in area, slightly ahead of India and well behind Russia, China, Canada, Brazil, and Australia (as the U.S. would no longer exist at number 3).

What it is not is super densely populated, unlike the YSA. The great state of Texas stands out among the rest of Cowlandia. Texas currently has two of the top ten most populous U.S. Metropolitan Areas (Dallas-Fort Worth #8 with 7 million people and Houston at #10 with 6.3 million people.). Overall the state is number two in the country in terms of population with over 27 million people, well below California's 39 million but well ahead of number 3 Florida's 20 million. However the rest of Cowlandia as a whole includes some of the least populous states in the present United States, states like Wyoming with the smallest population in the U.S. at barely half a million and both Dakotas with less than a million people each.

State Size in sq miles Population
Idaho 83,570 1,654,930
Montana 147,040 1,032,949
North Dakota 70,700 756,927
South Dakota 77,116 858,469
Wyoming 97,814 586,107
Nebraska 77,354 1,896,190
Utah 84,899 2,995,919
Colorado 104,094 5,456,574
Kansas 82,277 2,911,641
Oklahoma 69,898 2,911,338
Texas 268,581 27,862,596

1,163,343 48,923,640

With almost 49 million people scattered over 1.2 million square miles, Cowlandia has a population density of around 42 people per square mile, similar to nations like Finland and Paraguay. The current United States has a population density of around 86 people per square mile and ranks 182nd in the world on that basis, while Cowlandia would register around 201st out of 240 some odd nations

Cowlandia is also rich in  natural resources, from the agricultural breadbasket that extends from north to south to the oil and natural gas in Texas, Oklahoma and Wyoming, Cowlandia's strength is not in high tech but in raw materials. Texas has the second largest gross state product in the U.S. with a staggering $1,648,077,000,000 GSP. With a GSP of well over $1.6 trillion, Texas by herself would be in the top ten nations in the world in terms of GDP, just ahead of Canada, so Cowlandia as a whole would have plenty of economic strength to go it alone.

With a northern border of Canada and a souther border with Mexico plus a large Gulf of Mexico coastline, Cowlandia has lots of access to international trade. Obviously with Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, etc. Cowlandia has a great deal of oil, natural gas and other mineral resources plus the vast grain acreage in Kansas, Nebraska and others. A sizable amount of the beef you consume is finished out in the giant feedlots in Colorado and elsewhere in Cowlandia. Of course Cowlandia also includes a number of important parks like Glacier, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, Zion, and many others. But it is not all wheat and cows and parks. Cowlandia has a number of urban centers in Houston and Dallas, Salt Lake City and Denver plus a bunch of colleges and universities in Boulder, Provo, Lincoln and all across Texas, so Cowlandia would have ample access to the creative class.

What it does not have is an overabundance of fresh water and that could be a problem. Perhaps Cowlandia could trade with the yet to be revealed new home of the upper Midwest, oil for water?

Cowlandia broadly speaking is the American West. Having lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming I can tell you there is a huge difference between the West and the Midwest. People in the YSA probably assume anyone west of Pittsburgh is a redneck or cowboy or both but the Western culture is very different from other areas in the country. While South Dakota is not Texas, they are both in my opinion far more similar to one another than they are to people in Boston. While there are exceptions in urban areas and Colorado is a lot more "blue" than the rest, much of Cowlandia is deep, deep red.

Many people who live in Cowlandia are resentful of people "back east" telling them how to manage their own lands. The fight over the reintroduction of the gray wolf a number of years ago was a perfect example. A rancher in Montana is going to have a very different understanding of the utility of bringing back an alpha predator than a wealthy urban housewife in Manhattan that contributes to the Natural Resources Defense Fund. Even Texan suburbanites are very different from people in the suburbs of Boston or Philadelphia or even places like Atlanta and Nashville.

Some other questions. Where would the capitol be? Probably in Texas, and probably somewhere like Dallas. Denver is another option as it is fairly centrally located in Cowlandia and might keep some of the power from being overly concentrated in Texas. Westerners would probably prefer a Dallas capitol to a capitol in D.C. but would like decentralization even more. What about the sizable Hispanic population? I would assume many would stay and be welcome in the new nation, many others might move to Arizona or California as I would assume that the government and culture of Cowlandia would change quite a bit. Part of dissolving the Union would be to allow enough time for people who wanted to move to do so freely before the new nations are formed.

What about the nukes? Between Strategic Air Command in Nebraska to NORAD in Colorado to the nuclear missile "farms" in the prairie states to air bases like Minot (N.D.), Malmstrom (MT) and F.E. Warren near where we lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming that house both nuclear capable B-52's and our land based nuclear strike force, Cowlandia holds a major percentage of the present U.S. nuclear deterrent. As an aside, it was kind of weird to drive around Cheyenne and see nuclear missile facilities seemingly randomly scattered around the otherwise empty prairie. Like most of the military, the nuclear forces would need to be split up. Although places like California and the YSA might not want nukes, they probably wouldn't want to give them all to new neighboring nations. A mutual defense treaty between the newly independent countries is a topic for another post.

Cowlandia for me was the second easiest new nation to carve out. From here on out it starts to get more difficult.


Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

President John F. Kennedy, 1962