Wednesday, March 07, 2018


"Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people."
-Proverbs 14:34

President Donald Trump is the 45th president that the US has had in its 242 year history.  He was elected last year by a broad margin of electoral votes and by the official count lost by a few million popular votes, largely from California.
Trump has always been a controversial figure, even from back when he was just the son of a New York real estate mogul.  Over the years he was publicly prominent, seen with beautiful women, at trendy and stylish establishments, associating with celebrities, and even becoming one himself.  Donald Trump was involved with the failed football league USFL, and has successfully produced and run several television shows in addition to his real estate efforts.
It is difficult to mention his name these days without controversy erupting. Some are incredibly insulting and offended by the very name of Trump, others gleeful and celebratory.  Few are undecided or neutral on the man.
Most of the worst criticisms brought up by the president's enemies are simply political viciousness brought to the forefront by loud, influential voices: racist, Nazi, Russian puppet, etc.  Those aren't worth addressing.  But he has his flaws which are important to consider.
From a Christian perspective, there are many problems with President Trump as a person.  He is crude, using foul language and questionable turns of speech.  He has a history of serial adultery and sleeping with various women.  He lies almost continually, contradicting himself sometimes in the same paragraph.  He's bombastic, extreme, and boastful.  He's viciously vindictive against his enemies or those that annoy him, and can be very rash in his statements that sometimes he has to roll back or try to explain away.
For Christians, these are not very positive personality traits.  Coarse, profane, and libertine are not traits that Christians would prefer their president hold.  We want a moral, upright, responsible leader that shows dignity, honor, and expresses Christian virtues of peace, humility, love, and reverence toward God.
President Bush, for example, at his best exemplified this kind of leader.  President Clinton at his worst did not.  So we have a president now that is distasteful in his personal behavior and not the sort we'd ideally wish to see in office.
The primary reason for this is that while we get a president that is downstream from culture -- that is, we elect men that reflect our culture, rather than create it -- presidents are cultural leaders when in office and they shape the way our culture perceives things and responds.
President Clinton's attitude and behavior concerning sex had a huge impact on how sex is perceived in the USA.  Before him, sexual scandals would instantly end a presidential candidacy.  After him, its a minor speedbump and oral sex is often treated as not really sex.
So a lying crude speaking former philanderer will have he effect of coarsening culture and damaging especially younger people.  If the president does it how can you say its wrong for me to do so?
On the other hand, there is much to be glad about with President Trump.  He has taken direct and strict action to limit abortion -- one of his first acts was (like President Bush before him) to end the "Mexico City" policy of public funding used to pay for foreign abortions overseas at military bases.  The nomination of Supreme Court Justice Niel Gorsuch was a big positive for Christians as he is an advocate of the protections for religion and opposes most hard-left extremist social ideas.
Although blocked by an activist judge in Hawaii, President Trump's immigration policy was one of preferential treatment to Christian refugees fleeing persecution in the middle east.  President Trump has ended the Obama White House's virtual war on organizations who had religious objections to ACA ("Obamacare") pro-abortion requirements.
Most importantly, his wife's religious nature and change from her earlier modeling days to a stronger Christian seems to have influenced him significantly.  More broadly, President Trump is the first president that the US has had who seems to understand and be very willing to fight the culture war, personally and strongly.  For example, he reimposed the military "transgender" ban, seeking to prevent normalization of this behavior.  He was once pro-abortion but has at least publicly reversed that position very strongly, and has acted on this position.
I don't know if President Trump is a Christian or not.  If he is, he's not a very active one - he rarely goes to church and seems largely unfamiliar with the Bible.  That doesn't mean he is not saved, it just means he's not being very diligent in his walk with God, if he is saved.  I cannot know the man's heart, but his testimony, his statements of faith, do not contradict the Bible or Christianity as, say, President Obama's did.
The first principle of Christianity is that we are all sinners saved by the doing and dying of Jesus Christ put to our account through the Holy Spirit by God the Father.  I am no less a sinner than President Trump; indeed I shudder to think what my life might have looked like in his place, with all that wealth, power, and access to willing beautiful women.  I cannot condemn his sins because of the "log in my own eye" and thanks be to God, we are saved not by our perfect lives and piety but Christ alone.
President Trump has changed.  He's still bombastic and crude and vindictive and profane, but he has stepped away from his former life of sexual promiscuity, from all accounts and information we have.  All accusations, statements, and claims end about a decade ago or longer.  And if there's one thing we should celebrate and encourage, its for people who were once deep in sin to step away and live apart from that sin, not condemn and attack someone for it.
President Clinton was smoother and slicker than President Trump, but he was actively engaging in sexual misconduct, adultery, and even sexual harassment while in the Oval office as president.  This is a key difference: the distaste and rejection of President Clinton's behavior in office was because he was still at it, without shame or any sign of repentance or even inclination to change.
That said, President Trump is still a fairly regretful person in his speech.  He says things and speaks in a way that we ought not, and he should repent of and turn away from, just as we all should the sins we commit in our lives each day.
However, a president is largely important based on what he does in office, not what he says.  Speech, particularly in today's culture, is very ephemeral and fading.  But actions count.  And where it counts, President Trump is on target doing what he ought to in his job.
As Stephen Mansfield puts it in his book Choosing Donald Trump: God, Anger, Hope, and Why Christian Conservatives Supported Him:
Americans should want someone who can distill their faith into a political philosophy. I don’t need the President to pray like I pray… I do want to know that this person is committed to religious liberty.
It is the president's job to execute policy and defend the US Constitution, not be a religious leader.  I have long been tired of endless presidential candidates who claim to be Christian just to get elected, when most of them probably were not.  Every single US president has claimed to be a Christian, even ones who were definitely not such as Thomas Jefferson and Barack Hussein Obama.  
As a president, Donald J Trump is actually doing what needs to be done, and carrying out policy that protects and defends Christians in America and around the world.  In his job, he is doing what needs to be done, not doing what ought not be done, and working on policy that is ethically and materially beneficial for the nation.
One cannot help but think of the emperor Cyrus, king of kings in Persia, who was objectively a terrible human being and a reprobate.  But in his job as emperor, he did very well for the Persian people, and more importantly was directly and materially beneficial to the people of God, helping them rebuild their home and the temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem.
Cyrus was a man used by God for His people, and I believe that President Trump is a man being used by God to help His people as well.  He was not a good man, by Biblical standards, but Cyrus was a man who did good for God's people, who brought change and benefit to them despite his flaws.
I utterly and specifically reject the ridiculous, unBiblical, and even blasphemous notion that President Trump is specially chosen by God as an agent of His will or some figure of holiness. Donald Trump is not some special righteous figure who will save us all.  I believe the nation is beyond saving, at least by a political figure.  God may have mercy on us some day, despite our national sins.
That said, all presidents are chosen by God generally, and placed over us as part of His will.  Even the ones we don't like.  Jesus Christ made that very clear when he stated that even Pontius Pilate was put into power by God. And God has chosen President Trump for His purposes, and so far the man has been carrying out a policy and government platform which is very consistent with Christian wishes and needs.
As with all presidents in the past, we should be praying for Donald Trump.  He needs our prayers not just to do the right thing and carry out God's will, but that he repent of his sins, turn away from the wrong in his life, live a better, more Godly public existence, and cease his crudeness and antics.  He needs our prayers just as President Obama before him and whomever God puts into office after him.  And what he does right, we should support and applaud, while what he does wrong we should be willing to condemn and call for him to do better, as always.
*This is part of the Christian Response series.

Friday, February 23, 2018

REAL MEN COOK XXXI: Bistro Spaghetti

I also considered "Pan Spaghetti" as a name for this dish, because I'm not sure what it should be termed.  I came up with this dish one night because I noticed that my delicate innards couldn't handle marinara like they used to, and I wanted to find an alternative.
Here's what you'll need:
  • Spaghetti
  • Meat
  • Veggies
  • Spices and herbs
  • A large skillet with high walls.
Its pretty simple as most good Italian themed cooking is.
Cook up your usual batch of spaghetti in a pot while you prep and cook the other ingredients.  This should serve 3-5 people comfortably as a main dish.  While the water heats to boiling and you cook the spaghetti, chop up some veggies.  What kind?
Honestly it doesn't really matter much.  You can stay really authentic and focus on typical Italian vegetables such as peppers, onions, garlic, eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, etc.  I even chop up some tomatoes or use stewed tomatoes, just not very many.  But really any kind work, even stuff like tomatillos, non-veggies such as turnips, and things like celery and carrots.  I know that sounds crazy but work with me here.
Chop up the vegetables fairly small, you don't want big chunks in the dish, but mixed all through. Chop em up half inch or so at the largest, so its well distributed in the final dish rather than standing out on their own.
Fry up the veggies in butter, margarine or oil.  You want them cooked, but not reduced, just enough to be cooked through.  Remember when frying vegetables that they have different cooking rates: celery and turnips take longer, for instance.  Eggplant and onions take less time.  You want them all roughly the same level of cookage and texture.
Set the vegetables aside, and get the meat out.  Any meat you'd put in spaghetti normally works, I use hamburger.  Cook that almost all the way, but not quite done; chopped up so it blends well with the other ingredients.  You want the meat partly raw, so there's a little cooking to go.
As for proportions, I try to have about the same mass of vegetables and meat, so its half and half.
Mix the meat and veggies together.  Now here's a critical point: you want some kind of broth in the dish, so leaving at least some of the oil from the meat helps.  You might want to add in some butter or margarine to help with the liquid.  Stock would help as well, just not very much.  You're not making soup here, just a bit of sauce to help the final product not be dry.  Plus that helps get anything stuck to the bottom to lift off.
Spice the mixed meat and veggies, including some boullion or stock for flavor.  I use salt, garlic, and typical italian seasonings such as oregano, basil, marjoram, rosemary, parsley, etc.  If possible, use fresh herbs.  How much?  That's largely up to you, but for this first batch, use about half of your normal amount.  I've found that it takes more than you would think to get a good flavor, so don't skimp on the spices.
Now drain the prepared spaghetti (don't be meticulous about draining it, some of the water left on it is fine) and dump it into the pan with the skillet you have the meat and veggies in.  Now add the rest of the spices you normally put in, the half you have reserved.  Remember to salt it pretty well; pasta absorbs salt like rice.
Now chop the spaghetti up with a spatula so its not huge long strands.  That works fine for some dishes, but this one serves and mixes better if not so stringy and dangly.  Mix the entire thing up, scooping the goodies from below up in to the spaghetti, blending it up as best you can.
Grate or sprinkle some stinky cheese like romano and/or parmesan on top.  You can add some paprika to the top for a bit more color if you want.  Green, Red, White: an Italian Flag!
Serve in bowls, with more cheese available.  A green salad and some garlic bread goes well with this dish.  Give it a shot some time instead of the old standard alfredo or marinara tomato sauce.  Its a bit lighter and I think more flavorful.
*This is a part of the Real Men Cook series.

Friday, February 09, 2018


"One born every minute"

Remember Wonder Woman?  It was just last year.  It was the most life-affirming, important movie ever put out, a girl who beats up all the guys!  Wonder Woman proved girls can be heroes too!  Never before in the history of cinema had there been such an important film for girls to see.  Story after story of women leaving the theater glowing with joy over having finally seen someone like them being a hero!
Now its Black Panther.  This is such an important event in black history in America, the first ever film with a black hero and black cast, saving lives and being heroic.  Its making black children rejoice, changing lives, and affirming self value everywhere.  For once, finally, a black character is the star, and the big hero.
Except, as likely everyone reading this knows and is saying at least in their heads... that's all ridiculous.  There already have been many films made with strong female leads being heroic such as Supergirl, Aliens, Terminator, Ultraviolet, Foxy Brown, etc.  And there have been a host of black leading characters, even just from Marvel Comics, such as Blade.  Not to mention Hancock, Independence Day, Bad Boys, and a host of blaxploitation films from the 70s like Shaft.
What's going on here?  Why are we getting this hype, where are these stories of changed lives coming from?
Well, partly its Millennialitis, with people suffering from the ignorance of lack of memory of what came before.  Many people seem to think history started when they were around 13 years old, so what came before just never happened.  So those previous movies?  They don't count, I mean so ollld, who's even ever heard of Supergirl?
And partly its this effect.
Why go to a movie these days?  We have a screen the size of a kitchen table in our living room, with surround sound speakers that can rumble the floor.  I can grab any one of ten thousand films from online or our collection and watch them when I want, how I want, paused when I want, in the comfort of my own home without people talking, kicking my chair, throwing things, walking in front of the screen, and so on.  And it doesn't cost me $10+ a viewing.
Going to the movies is pretty unpopular these days, because there's really not much of a draw beyond "ooh, movie theater" nostalgia. So how do you get people to go see a movie?  
You turn it into a cultural event.  You make it seem like its more than a movie, its a movement, it matters.  This is something addressing some great social injustice, some imbalance, some cultural lack.  This movie is something important your children should see.  This movie will make you feel better about yourself.
By turning these films into something more than just entertainment, movie studios are trying to get people to go see them in the theater rather than at home.  And how do you get them to go to the theater?  By making it a virtue signalling event.  Look at me, I'm seeing Black Panther.  Watch me stand in line, here's my selfie for Pinterest and Facebook.  Here's my Tweet from the seats.  I'm a good person.
And people who are swayed by press hype and entertainment -- a lot of America, and the world, really -- are easily pulled into this.  You can be convinced that this is important and meaningful to you, a historic first that you can feel special being a part of, making the world a better place being the change you want to see.
So it turns into an event.  People genuinely can feel as if its been profound and meaningful, life changing.  This is a real effect, I've seen it and felt it in person at events like a special camp or seminar.  Wow, this really made me better/happier/more self-actuated or what have you.  And for a time, it does.  But it doesn't last, because that sense is not based on truth, its based on emotion and thrill.
So you get the stories of women crying and watching Wonder Woman twice in a row, an talking about how important it was for their self esteem and understanding of life.  Because that's what they're sold and generally speaking, advertising still works.
Then after a while, they don't even remember Wonder Woman was a movie and they're back to exactly how they were before.  Lasting change doesn't come from a movie, it comes from change within you, not without.
How much longer they'll be able to pull this off, we'll see.  There are only a few more niche identity groups that can be pandered to before they start being so obscure and miniscule that it loses its cultural power.  The first wheelchair bound transgendered bisexual left hander doesn't quite have that cachet.
But ultimately, its cynical manipulation, to make money.  This isn't some important event.  Tearing down the berlin wall and freeing hundreds of millions from Communist tyranny: major event.  Movie about girl who CGI beats up bad guys: entertaining, but meaningless.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


"The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire."
--Robert Heinlein

There are a lot of labels and names being thrown around, and they've been around a long time.  People call the left socialists, communists, collectivists and so on and have for about a century now.  And there was probably a time when the left's goal in America and Europe was to establish some sort of communist ideal, or at least a socialist one.
But I don't think there really are many around any longer who are remotely interested in that today.  I think that they use a lot of the same language, the same tactics, and the same arguments, but they really are not that interested in the old political and social goals.
And in some sense, probably they never were, really.  Even the old school Commies while driven by party zealotry and Marxist or Maoist ideology deep down had another goal.  No, I think all that's gone now, and its been replaced by another goal, a much older one.
Once, the left would stand for ideas such as equality, tolerance, free speech, liberty, and justice.  You could reliably hear the left call for toleration of ideas that were not popular, for free speech to hear things you didn't want to hear, and for equality between all peoples.  Peace was the byword, peace and brotherhood and love.
These days, free speech is called hate and violence.  Equality is called oppression, tolerance is mocked and derided, if its brought up at all.  And justice has nothing to do with right and wrong or fairness, and everything to do with enforcing codes and controlling behavior.  Liberty is viewed with suspicion or condemned as a source of problems, because free people might do the wrong thing, you see.  Someone might get offended, or face something they are not comfortable with, it might frighten or upset them.
And as for peace?  Violence is called speech, and the left openly calls for it against any political enemy.  Leftist gatherings too often are accompanied by violence, and always by destruction whether heaps of litter or broken windows and burning cars.  Peace isn't even mentioned any more.
What happened?  Why are these ideas all being rejected and reversed?  Well part of the reason is that the left never truly stood for any of them.  What they wanted was to be heard and to be allowed to do what they wanted, when not in power.  When they took control of society, culture, politics, law, academia, entertainment and so on they didn't need or want any of that any longer.
Freedom of speech was only so that they could be heard, not so anyone else could be.  Peace was only to stop them from being hurt, not to stop others from being hurt.  Tolerance was to get people to put up with their antics, not for them to put up with other peoples'.
And in the end, all they stood for and called to happen was lost in the rush for power and control, and ultimately, the real goal became more apparent.
There was an old system in place, long ago, called "Feudalism" in which the dangerous wilderness of a nation was stabilized and controlled by powerful warlords who in turn were served by the populace.  This system became highly sophisticated and structured in places such as England, Japan, and Russia.
The powerful few had weapons and money which was in theory used to protect the powerless many in exchange for food and service.  Taxes or tribute were paid in the form of goods and services, as well as servile obedience, for protection from bandits, other warlords, wild animals, and so on.  These lords had tremendous, almost unlimited power over the serfs, who rarely could add, much less read, and worked miserably for tiny scraps of what they produced.
The Lords lived like... well, kings.  They had the best of everything, they enjoyed the finest and were served by all.  Merely disobeying or even annoying one could easily lead to death, while killing a serf carried virtually no penalty for a lord.  Serfs had no rights, no earnings, no power.  They existed as a sort of life support system for the lords, for whom the very idea of lifting a finger to produce anything was insulting and beneath their lofty status.
And the system was locked in.  There was virtually no chance for advancement for a serf.  One might, perhaps, gain minor status through exceptional service in war, but it was rare and very limited.  Almost all serfs were born and died in that class and stayed that way by design.  Unarmed, uneducated, unable to band together, revolts were rare and ended very badly for the serfs.
This system worked very well for the lords, who had everything they might have wanted, and only had to do very little - and it was usually what they liked doing anyway.  For the serfs, it was protection from outside aggression, but without any liberty, any redress for harm, and any ability to get any better.  The system was so ingrained that most serfs rebelled against the idea of getting better, being "above their station."
What do you call it when someone wants all the benefits of capitalism and modern civilization, but none of the means and structures to create and sustain it?  I don't blame the Occupy crowd from wanting cell phones as they decry capitalism.  I don't blame them for wanting all the trappings and benefits of the system they call evil.  But their very solutions and systems which would obliterate all that would also obliterate its benefits.
Going back to the productivity, population, and "emissions" of the 18th century would result in no more I phone, no more internet, no more cars, no more shoes, no more clubs, no more take out.  Everything they take for granted and demand, assume as their birthright, they would destroy.
Unless... you create a system by which everyone except them is forced into this regressive, low-tech lifestyle.  Where they are the lords, where they have all the benefits, for which they pay by being enlightened keepers of the truth and warriors against the evils of capitalism and the right wing.
They don't want children educated, they want children to be trained.  They don't want people to have freedom, they want people to obey.  They don't want a society of equality, they want a society of supremacy.
And this New Feudalism isn't just on the left.  There are those on the right who'd love the same system, with them in charge, and everyone shut up and doing what they're told beneath them.  They would control everything and make everyone Do The Right Thing or take a helicopter ride without a return ticket.
Always this is structured in the framework of doing good for people, in terms of service, of helping those in need, of protecting.  That's what the lords said in 1100 too, it was God's will that they be in power protecting the serfs from the bad stuff.  Why, they deserve the best of the farm and exclusive rights to hunting and fishing.
Ordinary people cannot be trusted to handle things themselves, they're stupid, or sinful, or unelightened, or just sister-marrying knuckeldraggers living in trailers.  Its for their own good that we control them, and look, they like it!
As the United Nations recently argued, its better that people not be educated, they're bad for the environment:
"Generally, more highly educated people, who have higher incomes, consume more resources than poorly educated people, who tend to have lower incomes"
Besides, they're easier to control.  Just educate them enough that they can do the jobs required to give the lords what they want, and no more.
And this system only works with a rigid, absolute code.  You have to have a structure by which everyone knows their place and dares not step outside of it, or they cannot be controlled and the serfs might start to question their situation.  
"Social Justice," the left's code for "controlling society by claiming a system of fairness and oppression" is that code.  There is no way to have equality of outcome for anyone without absolute tyranny.  Justice, true justice, only allows for and provides equality of access and treatment, not equality of life and experience.  Social Justice tries to change that by imposing absolute rules of who wins and who loses, so that a "balance" is reached.  Whites have had it too good for too long, so they must be repressed to bring about equality.  Men have been too strong for too much of history, so they must be repressed so that women can find equality.  When does this end?  Some day, just trust the lords, they will handle everything.  Like the ancient story of the emperor cutting the tops off all the wheat to make it equal: none may grow too tall, all the same height, this is how the equality will be reached.
But you cannot have equality for all, because otherwise who'd have the power to enforce this system?  Someone has to be on top, someone has to arbitrate and create all the rules, someone has to oversee all this.  Someone has to cut those tops off that grow too big.  Leave it to the lords.  They will handle it, just pay your tribute.  They're enlightened, they're better, they understand, they're woke.
Want an example?  Try Spacial Injustice.
The University of California-Los Angeles is offering a technology class this summer examining how “car culture” contributes to “spatial injustice.”
The course, “LA Tech City: Digital Technologies and Spatial Injustice,” will be offered through the UCLA Digital Humanities department and will be taught by Professor Todd Presner and Professor Dana Cuff.
“Students will investigate spatial justice and injustice in the multi-ethnic city through the lens of three thematic technologies,” the syllabus states, listing cars and highways, the Internet, and film and media as factors that contribute to spatial injustice.
While Professor Presner declined to comment, he referred Campus Reform to the definition of “spatial injustice” by Edward Soja, who laments the “production of unjust geographies and spatial structures of privilege” within cities, which he argues can be “aggravated further by racism, patriarchy, heterosexual bias.”
Rojas argues that while the inner-city working poor “depend on a more flexible bus network given their multiple and multi-locational job households,” as compared to “the relatively wealthy suburban population” in Los Angeles, “the accumulation of locational decisions in a capitalist economy tends to lead to the redistribution of real income in favor of the rich over the poor.”
Some have cars, and others do not.  This is unjust, because it lets them do things others cannot.  Cut the top of that wheat off.
In feudal systems there's a basic hierarchy of power and ownership: you know exactly the structure.  This guy is on top, this guy ranks slightly below him, and so on.  We still see this in the military, with an absolute command structure.  Everything belongs to the army, it just lets you use some of it sometimes.  Including you.
The King owns all the land, but will parcel it out to others as rewards for service and for that lesser lord to control and bring him proper tribute.
Similarly, the attitude of the modern feudalist is that the government owns everything, and it lets us have some of it.  Don't believe me?  Look at the recent tax cut and the responses to it.  It was repeatedly called a "heist," it was called theft for you to keep more of your earnings.  Theft from whom?  The government of course, who properly owns this.  Government owns it all and lets you have some of it.  If it likes you.
You can petition the government for some of it, through grants and loans and subsidies.  But you best be the kind of person who properly understands their place and social justice to get it.  Green energy startup?  You're the good sort of person.  You can have some of the government's money.  Create an electric car?  You can have subsidies to help build it, to cut your taxes with the state, and for people to buy the car from you with.
And this connects to another theme: the worthless leader.  Sure, they could fight, and they were great with courtly duties.  They knew poems and languages, and how to dress, what every knight's shield design was, and how to ride a horse.  But they knew almost nothing of any practical value, eventually.  Left alone in a forest, they'd just wander around complaining and die eventually.
And that's what the modern feudalist is like.  They never learn anything of significant value.  They learn how to rule.  If you have noticed, they never do what they call for, they simply teach others to do it, they "organize" they rabble rouse.  They get marches together and are activists, but don't actually go out and do anything to help or construct or benefit anyone but themselves.  That college degree in wymyn's intersectional lesbian studies doesn't actually teach you anything that you can use or help people with. It just fills your head with "woke" ideas and proper jargon.  You are good at being that feudal leader, and the actual doing is up to other people.  And you're considered great for being that way, by the fellow feudalists.
In the end, none of it is truly about the causes that are trumpeted.  Social Justice isn't really about justice or society at all, its about controlling you and I, and keeping you in your "proper" place.  Kneel to the philosopher kings, tug your forelock and look down when they pass.  Never question them or doubt.  Don't try to be better than you are.  Obey.  Submit.  All those rules you must live by, of course they don't have to; they're your betters.  They make the rules, they don't have to follow them.  They're put into that place because they are enlightened, woke, politically correct.
So there's no equality, tolerance, justice, peace, or any of that.  Just control.