Russell and Duenes

Some Musings: The West Wing, Disregard for the Constitution, Gay Parenting Study, The Stranger

with 4 comments

My wife and I have been watching old seasons of “The West Wing.” We got into the show when she was pregnant with our first son back in 2007, but only made it through the first three seasons. So we’ve taken it up from that point. As you would expect, the show has a decidedly leftist slant to it: The Bartlett Administration – Democratic, of course – is always smarter and morally purer and more principled than any Republicans who form part of the plot. Watching it, I sometimes feel like I’m at a Democratic Party fantasy camp, where I get to watch Democratic utopian notions projected onto the Bartlett Administration. But all of this doesn’t bother me that much. The plots are interesting, and I expect liberal boilerplate from Hollywood. But what is most unrealistic, and never stated, is the personal lives of the characters. Except for the President himself, almost none of them is married; not his chief of staff, not his speech writers, not his press secretary, nor his aids, none of them. All of that marriage and family stuff seems a bit too pedestrian. Further, half of the staff looks like they’re barely out of college, yet they all talk as if they’ve been to charm school; throwing out witticisms and aphorisms regularly, while having a little moralistic story ready for any and every situation, while dropping the fact that their SAT score was 1590, while quoting anyone from the historical “smart set.” It’s almost bizarre in its unreality. But obviously I enjoy it enough to keep watching. Go figure.

Most people probably aren’t as disturbed as they should be about our current administration’s disregard for the Constitution. The president seems to think that he can simply pick and choose which laws he will and will not enforce, and that he can even create new laws without approval from Congress, indeed, in the face of Congress. As Victor Davis Hansen pointedly notes, Legally, President Obama has reiterated the principle that he can pick and choose which U.S. laws he wishes to enforce (see his decision to reverse the order of the Chrysler creditors, his decision not to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, and his administration’s contempt for national-security confidentiality and Senate and House subpoenas to the attorney general). If one individual can decide to exempt nearly a million residents from the law — when he most certainly could not get the law amended or repealed through proper legislative or judicial action — then what can he not do? And specifically relating to the immigration issue, U.C. Berkeley Law Professor, John Yoo, says, [P]rosecutorial discretion is not being used in good faith here: A president cannot claim discretion honestly to say that he will not enforce an entire law — especially where, as here, the executive branch is enforcing the rest of immigration law. Imagine the precedent this claim would create. President Romney could lower tax rates simply by saying he will not use enforcement resources to prosecute anyone who refuses to pay capital-gains tax. He could repeal Obamacare simply by refusing to fine or prosecute anyone who violates it. But who cares, when – like Obama – you’re one of the “anointed”, to use Thomas Sowell’s term. This statement by a White House official is absolutely chilling: “Often times Congress has blocked efforts (ie [No Child Left Behind] and DREAM) and we look to pursue other appropriate means of achieving our policy goals. Sometimes this makes for less than ideal policy situations – such as the action we took on immigration – but the president isn’t going to be stonewalled by politics, he will pursue whatever means available to do business on behalf of American people.” So, when Congress blocks you with constitutionally valid laws – as the immigration laws surely are – you just go around them and do as you like?

There are a number of brief and important pieces out discussing a new study on the effects on children who are raised by two people of the same sex. The cultural narrative these days is that children raised by homosexual parents are at no disadvantage when compared with children raised by a married man and woman. Nature itself teaches the falsity of this proposition, so it is already alarming that we somehow need some vast scientific literature to prove it. But it has come to this. I’d encourage you to take a gander at a few of these pieces: here, here, and here.

I just finished reading The Stranger, by Albert Camus. It turned out to be quite different than I expected. It’s a book you can read in one sitting. The characters are engaging, and it is an enjoyable piece of literature. I’m still chewing on it, and not quite sure what I make of its central character, which probably means that the author has done his work well. One thing did strike me, however, which is that the protagonist several times mentions how “absurd” life is. Yet he does not believe in God. For something to be absurd, there would seem to be a need for some kind of standard for “non-absurd” by which to measure absurdity. But if there is no God, then there is no such standard, and thus, nothing can really be absurd, can it?

-D

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Written by Michael Duenes

June 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm

4 Responses

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  1. You really have a “thing” about homosexual marriage and gay parenting. I regard this as to some degree a “straw man,” in that you are overgeneralizing.

    Some heterosexual marriages are fine. Some heterosexual marriages are terrible. There are many gradations and variations. There is no such thing as the “standard” heterosexual marriage.

    Some homosexual relationships (whether married or not) are fine. Some are terrible. Etc.

    Some heterosexual parents are fine. Some are terrible. Some homosexual parents are fine. Some are terrible. There are many gradations and variations.

    For example, my wife and I both come from families of five children. My parents stayed married until my father died, though they were an unhappy couple and not especially good parents. Of my brothers and sisters, three of us have turned out fairly well; two of us not so well. (You have only my word for this evaluation.) Of the not-so hot, one is a narcissistic Christian fanatic. I speak negatively of her not because she is a Christian, and not because she is a “wicked” (in the sense of harming others), but because she is an incredibly tedious, tiresome person. (If you talked with her on the phone – a conversation that would go on for hours, as she never shuts up – I suspect you would agree with my criticism.) One of my brothers – while not a harmful person – is seriously mentally ill – either schizophrenic or bipolar, depending on which psychiatrist you talk to.

    My wife’s parents divorced when she was fairly young. Her mother married again, a fairly obnoxious person. Her father married again four more times. Of her siblings, two turned out fine. One does fairly poorly; just one step up from living on the streets. One is divorced and kind of a loner, though getting by. My wife is fine.

    My daughter and her partner are very stable people who have been together for over 20 years. Her partner’s child is 8 years old and doing fine. Instead of using a “sperm bank” and an anonymous donor, they collected sperm from a man they had gone to college with. He is in a steady relationship with another man. They both spend time with our granddaughter who regards them as her “dads.” A reasonable criticism of homosexual parents is that many times the children do not have access to exposure to loving parents of both sexes, but there are millions of divorced, abusive, unfaithful heterosexual parents. The three links you provide cling to straws of straw men. Everybody, straight ot gay, should be good parents. In reality, some are, some are not. Some of the people who go to church are good people. Some are not. Some of the people who do not go to church are good people. Some of the people who do not go to church are not.

    One of your favorite arguments is “what do you mean by ‘good’ when you have no basis to evaluate,” etc. etc. This may work well enough when you talk to high school students or people desperate to believe, but it is very tiresome and tedious and does no good with me.

    I don’t like to be killed, so I avoid killing people. (I probably would kill in self-defense, as I suspect you would.)

    I don’t like to be in pain, so I avoid inflicting pain on other people, unless I perceive a powerful reason, such as self-defense or emergency medical activity (such as breaking ribs during CPR).

    We are animals with large brains and complex societies. We are driven by animal instincts, so we strive to survive, we reproduce, we care for our young. We wonder where we came from so we create myths to explain mysteries and console ourselves; we invented science which gave us electrical energy and guns and nuclear energy; medicine and poison, agriculture and biological weapons. The world exists. We live and die. We all do the best we can. In living, in acting, in explaining. You (apparently) find religious belief believable, admirable, and inspiring. I find it is basically nonsense.

    modestypress

    June 16, 2012 at 5:37 pm

  2. But what is most unrealistic, and never stated, is the personal lives of the characters.

    Have you heard about this new show, Girls? Based on what I’ve read about some of the graphic content, I can’t recommend actually watching it, but it sounds insightful insofar as it’s like an anti-Sex and the City: it’s a portrayal of four girls living in New York City, trying to live the SATC lifestyle and finding out how empty and shallow that lifestyle really is.

    Nature itself teaches the falsity of this proposition, so it is already alarming that we somehow need some vast scientific literature to prove it. But it has come to this.

    My thoughts exactly; glad to see you echo them. Of course we should remember that a very great deal of sociological “research” is riddled with bias and belongs on the garbage pile. I haven’t glanced at these new reports, but I find that these studies frequently examine the wrong things: too often they’re focused on stuff like educational or career achievement, exclaiming, “See, look! Kids with gay parents get university degrees, too!” They omit to measure more intangible – but I would say more important – results like the sense of longing and gnawing incompleteness that comes with the absence of a father or a mother.

    I just finished reading The Stranger, by Albert Camus. It turned out to be quite different than I expected.

    Maybe I’ll give it a try.

    samsonsjawbone

    June 17, 2012 at 5:40 am

  3. @modesty:

    Some heterosexual marriages are fine. Some heterosexual marriages are terrible. There are many gradations and variations. There is no such thing as the “standard” heterosexual marriage.

    Some homosexual relationships (whether married or not) are fine. Some are terrible. Etc.

    This “all parents are different; stop generalizing; some hetero parents are bad, too” rhetoric is misleading because it’s meant to obscure the central issue, which is that *all* homosexual relationships are intrinsically disordered. *None* of them, by definition, offer what a child needs: a mother and a father. Anecdotes about how some hetero parents are “bad parents”, and some same-sex parents are “good parents”, don’t alter that.

    This may work well enough when you talk to high school students or people desperate to believe, but it is very tiresome and tedious and does no good with me.

    I think it is doing some good with you. For instance, you are at least correctly remembering what the argument is.

    samsonsjawbone

    June 17, 2012 at 5:48 am

  4. I think it is doing some good with you. For instance, you are at least correctly remembering what the argument is.

    I appreciate your comment, although it strikes me as quite condescending. I doubt that you understand my argument, but who knows? Maybe you do, but just refuse to admit the simple sense of my points, which are essentially about elementary logic. You do understand elementary logic, do you not?

    Rather following the hosts’ line of argument, the links he posted about homosexual vs. heterosexual couples’ parenting do not explain what “good parenting” vs. “bad parenting” are. I would put indicators of good parenting as child is not a murderer, rapist, torturer, thief, etc.. I prefer these attributes as I would not like to be a victim of such behavior. I am guessing that he might put, “child goes to church on a regular basis,” as an example of good behavior. While I have no objection to a person going to church on a regular basis, I am not especially impressed by it.

    I would also infer as sign of good parenting: child finds and holds (legal) employment, child is not an addict of alcohol, prescription drugs, illegal drugs. Again, I approve of such traits because society functions better when people work, pay taxes, avoid welfare and food stamps, etc. By and large people function better if they are not addicted.

    There are various kinds of addictions. For example, I know people who are addicted to running marathons, participating in triathlons, etc. These generally make people healthier, though they kill some people.

    As I’ve mentioned before, and I think has never been addressed in this blog, quite a few people are addicted to evangelizing and converting people to their religious beliefs. Both of you suffer from this addiction, but as far as I know, you don’t knock on lots of doors and bug people on the street (which if not outright harmful, can be rather irritating).

    I am addicted to arguing with people I consider religious fanatics, but as I give the host permission to delete my comments, and will go away if he asks me to, I suspect my addiction is not that harmful either.

    modestypress

    June 17, 2012 at 10:04 am


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