7.31.2013

Obama Changes Tune - Still Off Key

It's interesting that Obama is calling for a cut in the corporate tax rate - and saying that he'll trade it for increased spending on "jobs" programs (various schools, etc., etc.).

I thought we couldn't cut taxes because we couldn't afford it - according to Democrats, anyway - and now he's proposing a tax cut paired with increased spending.  This is besides the fact that what he's proposing to spend money on won't, hasn't, and can't actually create jobs (other than those in government running them), isn't this rather the opposite from his other rhetoric?

But he's campaigning - it has been a perpetual campaign.  He really doesn't care if anything he proposes works or not as long as he comes off as "caring" and the GOP comes off as unfeeling.  You'd think the House GOP is really governing if you went by Obama's rhetoric, but he's president, not Boehner (or Reid).  When is he going to accept responsi-  Oh.  That's right.  Being a liberal means never having to accept responsibility - not for the economy, not for Obamacare, not for tax increases, not for foreign policy disasters like Benghazi or Egypt, not for excessive spending, not for IRS malfeasance....

I keep forgetting that.

Liberal Defends Hannity & Limbaugh

Alan Colmes has a decent piece over at Fox News regarding some changes in which stations are broadcasting Hannity and Limbaugh.

The first thing to know regarding this shake up is that it is purely a business decision among competitors in the radio market - Cumulus and Clear Channel.  One syndicates the two radio shows, the other is less inclined to pay their competition confiscatory rates for the top-rated shows in the industry.

Second, Colmes asks a valid question: "...what kind of liberal wants to clamp down on free speech and celebrate shutting someone up?"  By way of answer: the entire Obama administration, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Code Pink, the IRS, the folks at the EPA, Rahm Emmanuel, Planned Parenthood, the abortion lobby, the climate-change scare-mongers, university and college administrators (with their ubiquitous "speech" codes)....  I could go on, but that's rather an impressive list already.

I'm very glad Alan Colmes is not that kind of liberal.  And, to be fair, quite a few conservatives also prefer simply silencing opponents - it's far easier than being cogent and logical will ever be.  But then, intellectual laziness is often a mistress to tyranny.

Israeli-Palestinian Talks Begin; Destined to Go Nowhere

The press is agog with the idea that Israel and the Palestinian terrorists are talking again.  They've been talking.

I'm not sure what Israel expects to gain from these talks, other than to show that they're willing to talk.  I can only think that John Kerry promised them some massive payment-in-kind to get them to agree.  The leader of the Palestinians - the so-called "moderate" folks at al-Fatah - said his objective is to achieve a state when "we would not see the presence of a single Israeli -- civilian or soldier -- on our lands."

Bear in mind that the Palestinians consider all the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea as theirs.

Also bear in mind that one of the grievances the Palestinians routinely toss up against Israel is that the Israelis won't let them into Israel to work (and blow up children, but that's entirely beside the point as far as the Palestinians and the UN are concerned).  As it is, some 1.5 million Arabs live in Israel but now Jews live in Palestinian territories (or Egypt, or Syria, or Jordan, or Lebanon, or...).

The Israeli form of government, culture, and society is far more conducive to human flourishing than anything the muslims have yet put forward in any country or territory they've controlled since the 17th century.  Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Turkey, and every other Arab/muslim country has more by way of natural resources (water and oil primarily) than Israel and yet only the Gulf Emirates (Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, but not Oman) have a higher per capita income.  In most cases, the average Arab is looking at an income approximately 1/5 that of the average Israeli.

Peace between Israel and the Palestinians will not come until one or the other is thoroughly and finally defeated. Given that I prefer freedom and open societies to tyranny and oppression, I think both Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if it is the Palestinians who are defeated.

But, as this is not what John Kerry has in view and certainly not what Mahmoud Abbas is considering, I highly doubt that anything will come of these talks other than headlines.

7.30.2013

In Case You Were Wondering...

I've been on vacation.  And while on vacation, I decided I would ignore unpleasant things - like the Obama administration, the economy, the news in general, exercise, vegetables, and all the rest.

Since this is where I come to vent over unpleasant things like those, I haven't had much reason to post here this past week, either.

Today has been busy picking up all the loose threads lying about from the unpleasant things I've ignored the past week, so I haven't had time to write much.  I'm sure I'll be back to venting tomorrow.

By the way, I highly recommend taking periodic breaks from unpleasant things.  It's not like the unpleasant things will mind and even if they do, what do I care?  If they were more pleasant I might concern myself, but as it is...  And I've always found that most of the unpleasant things are still there when I get back, so I haven't really missed anything.

7.18.2013

Democrats Launch Petition to Increase SD Unemployment

It seems the Democrats in South Dakota are upset that our unemployment rate is not as high as the rest of the country's and they are determined to do something to rectify that problem.  I can think of no other reason why they would push for an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour.

Let's say you want to sell wallets.  You have roughly 450,000 wallets to sell of varying qualities and with differing features.  Your low-end, basic wallet starts at $7.25 and your top-of-the-line goes for hundreds of dollars.  Most folks want the wallets with a little more than that basic one has, so they tend to buy the $12-15 wallets.  And you sell about 430,000 wallets every year this way.  The remainder, you end up giving to Goodwill and writing off as charity.

What happens if you raise the price of your low-end wallet to $8.50?  One of the things that does is put pressure on the other wallets just above your basic model, so those prices will also go up to maintain sufficient spread on your price points.  They likely won't go up as much, but they'll go up some.  Your top model prices likely won't change much at all.  But the vast majority of your wallets sold are in those tiers just above the basic.

Your customers will look at that and think, "I don't want to spend that much for a wallet.  At that price, I think my old one will last another year or so..."  They not only don't pay $8.50 for the basic wallet they previously weren't buying at $7.25, they spread out their purchases so as to avoid paying as much for the next tiers of wallets, too.  So now all of your lower tier wallets are moving more slowly - the upper end ones, where folks were spending $500 or so, still sell as much, but the lower tier ones where you made most of your business are gathering dust on the shelf.  Instead of selling 430,000, you are now selling only 400,000 per year.

Now, if you're talking wallets, you end up just buying fewer yourself.  But what if these aren't wallets?  What if they're human beings and what is being sold is their labor?  You can't just order fewer from the factory.  Jacking the price up won't affect the chief executives and the specialists.  But that convenience store owner with 8 employees will pay for the increase in the price of labor by letting one of them go and making do with seven.  Whether you think that's fair or just or not is irrelevant.  That's what he'll do.  You can't force him to hire people just like you can't force him to buy wallets.

Currently, the SD labor force is about 450,000 and 431,000 of them have jobs.  Increasing the minimum wage means several thousand of those currently working will be let go, most of those at the lower end - the ex-cons trying to get a basic job and work their way up into society again as they straighten out their lives, young people starting out, folks who dropped out of high school but know how to work, the recent immigrants whose English isn't that great, and the rest.  These are the people the Democrats will throw out of work if they get their way.

How they get off claiming to be the compassionate ones is beyond me.

Boehner Puts Dems in Tight Spot with Obamacare Delay Votes

The House endorsed the delay in Obamacare's employer mandate - and added a delay in Obamacare's individual mandate.

They now go to the Senate.

Obama is threatening to veto both bills, which makes him look silly, I'm afraid.  Intentionally refusing, and flatly declaring, that one is not going to uphold a law one has just spent millions of dollars (successfully) defending as Constitutional is against the law - illegal - as the basic law of our land (aka, the Constitution) requires the president to "faithfully execute" the laws of the United States.  There are no caveats in that, and simply deciding it's too hard is not an out.  So the bill passed by the House delaying the employer mandate would, if approved by the Senate and signed by Obama, make that illegal act suddenly legal.  Why veto it?

The fact that these are two separate measures also puts the Democrats in a difficult position.  If they vote for the delay of the employer mandate, but reject the delay of the individual mandate, it's going to be pretty easy to paint them as just giving breaks to business partners and donors rather than - as Democrats almost always deceitfully claim - taking care of "the little guy."  Why should GM get a break and Joe Schmuckatelli can't?

And for Democrats wanting to support their president, they either vote for the bill - undermining his claim that he can unilaterally decide which laws will apply when, but endorsing his delay - or they vote against the bill which would implicitly reject his desire for delay even though it upholds the unilateral act.

True to Democrat form, although roughly 12-15% of them voted with the GOP on these measures, the vast majority of Democrats voted for power - the power of their president to simply decree what will apply when to whom - rather than justice, the rule of law, or even their own supposed principles of universal health care and supporting the little guy.

I expect the Senate majority leader will do all he can to avoid taking up these bills because he, too, is concerned only about power.

7.16.2013

The Cost of Discipleship - Being Christian and Gay

I get after the folks at my denominational magazine, The Banner, often enough.  But they do at times publish some first-rate pieces and this one, by Merrill Nosler, is one of those.

I really don't have anything to add or detract from what she writes, so just head on over and read it.

Reid to Republicans: "Surrender or Die!"

Harry Reid is taking a calculated risk.  He may end the filibuster and, if he does so, he'll be able to ram through a host of Obama appointees, stacking the federal bureaucracy with left wing ideologues that will not be easily undone by a GOP president and senate in coming years (the rule change does not, as yet, include judges).

He's also betting that, if he ends the filibuster, he'll be able to pressure any GOP majority that might arise to re-instate it for a Democrat minority.

Sadly, he is probably correct on both counts.  Too many Republicans are still trying to win the love of the New York Times, and I fail to comprehend why any in the GOP waste their time with NBC/MSNBC.

The Republicans should recognize the game has changed.  One cannot expect even the pretense of respect for tradition, for political opponents, or for truth.  The Democrat party demonstrated during the Clinton impeachment proceedings that they have one and only one objective - to gain and hold on to power by any means necessary.  They have no moral purpose for holding that power that might restrain the methods used in obtaining or using it.  They are simply, and baldly, seeking power.

This is why, at a recent young Republicans meeting, the chair of the RNC told those assembled that Republicans can no longer think of politics as seasonal.  We cannot leave politics alone in the odd-numbered years and only show up for campaigns.  The Democrats have forced us to year-round, 24/7 campaigns with no end in sight.

We must accept that we cannot "fix" what's wrong and then go back to whatever else we were doing.  If we are going to restore even a semblance of that original vision of the founders, we must be prepared to replicate the long march of leftists through the institutions of schools, media, and culture outside of politics knowing that this will be incremental, gradual change.  There will be times to force matters and let people howl, and times to back off, accepting a loss for the sake of greater gain later.

And we must not ever "punish" less-than-perfect GOP candidates by allowing even worse Democrats to win.  It's one thing to have a spirited primary, but when losers of that primary sit on their hands pouting because the winner isn't their ideal, don't try to tell me how committed they are to principles.  It is not principled conservatism to decide that if you can't have Sarah Palin you'd rather have Barack Obama.  It is childish pique and there has been far too much of that among conservatives in the GOP.

7.15.2013

Holder Won't Give Up Effort to Lynch Zimmerman

The jury in the Zimmerman case reached the only reasonable conclusion possible - that Zimmerman was not guilty of murder.  The state never had enough evidence to convict.  This is, as you might expect, not acceptable to those who have not been bothered by evidence or facts in the case from the beginning.  They have seen it purely as an opportunity to fan the flames of racial hatred upon which their jobs, fund-raising, and political power depends.

Meanwhile, young men like Trayvon Martin continue to be murdered apace in Chicago, Detroit, Washington, D.C., New York, New Orleans, and almost every other major city in this country - but that doesn't merit the attention of professional race hustlers like Eric Holder, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton or any of the rest.  Because those victims are murdered by other Black men.

A chief of police was fired because he pointed out the obvious - there wasn't enough evidence to convict and so pressing charges was a waste of time.  Another state official was fired when he objected to the prosecution's mishandling of evidence in violation of established laws and conventions - a mishandling that very likely would have seen any conviction overturned even if there had been enough evidence for the murder charge.

George Zimmerman has been publicly pilloried by the President of the United States and is an ongoing target of the so-called Department of Justice despite the fact that the FBI has found no evidence of racial bias or profiling (correctly, judging by the evidence presented at trial).  His parents' house has been assaulted and he himself is the recipient of numerous death threats.

All of this so the NAA(L)CP, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and the rest of their ilk can continue to raise funds to "fight" a problem that isn't there.

President Obama has at least learned to guard his own mouth, even though he dispatched Holder and his injustice goons to Florida to dredge up additional charges if they can.  Well, there have been civil rights violations aplenty in this case - violations of Mr. Zimmerman's civil rights.  Obama's hatchet man at DoJ won't see any of that, though.

7.11.2013

Want to Go Camping on the Moon?

This is great.  We're $17,000 billions in debt.  We've got the smallest labor force participation rate in decades and unemployment is still near 8%.  We've got massive illegal immigration, millions on the dole, abuse of power scandals running through the EPA, State, and the IRS among other federal bureaucracies, and over all is this sword of Damocles known as Obamacare.

And a couple of Democrats - one from Maryland and another from Texas - in the Congress want to declare part of the moon a national park.

Huh?

Besides the utter absurdity of declaring territory that is not U.S. soil a "national" park, there is also the fact that we have not had anything resembling a lunar program for 40 years.  Fact is, we went to the moon and proved it's got nothing on it to justify the expense of going back there any time soon.  But, if these two folks will take it upon themselves to go there to administer the park they'd like to create, I suppose I might be able to get behind it.

Eric Holder's Efforts to "Lynch" Zimmerman

Even as Eric Holder's so-called Department of "Justice" investigates journalists and accuses them of criminal activity for doing their job, it also does what it can to generate ratings for the networks.  That is generous of them, isn't it?

Take last spring.  There had been this incident down in Florida where a man shot and killed another in apparent self defense.  There weren't a lot of witnesses to the case - really none at all other than the actual shooter and victim.  The police and local prosecutor decided they had nothing sufficiently substantive to press charges under the circumstances, so they dropped it.

But the shooter was named "Zimmerman" - obviously a White guy (he isn't, technically - he's Hispanic, although the New York Times has helpfully labeled him a "White Hispanic") - and the guy he shot was Black.  Enter the race hustlers and, naturally, Eric Holder among them.  Mr. Holder, race hustler par excellence, has at his disposal a group called "Community Relations Service."  These guys went in, organized rallies, bused college kids from outside the county in for "protest" marches, coordinated with local authorities for police protection, and basically instigated all the helpful marches, demonstrations, and what not that are so necessary to 24/7 news networks, especially when third world Islamo-fascists are taking a week or two off from their own regular riots.  This ginned-up hue and cry led the local prosecutor to override the police and press murder charges on Zimmerman.

Yes.  That's right.  Your tax dollars were spent in order to arrange a kind of protest-lynching of am American citizen who was only - as far as we can tell - defending himself.  But don't think of it as a miscarriage of justice (it was, just don't think of it that way).  Think of it as a Visual News Stimulus Plan.

See, the networks got to cover the demonstrations, and now they've had two weeks of good ratings covering the trial, not to mention all the back and forth of pre-trial negotiations, maneuvers, and what not.  Since the prosecution didn't actually have any evidence, just as the cops at the time thought, regardless of the verdict, there will be a hue & cry - the former protesters will be out there again with all the usual race hustlers elbowing each other out of the way for a few minutes of face time with a camera if the verdict is not guilty, or those who have some sense of integrity in the judicial system will be all over the airwaves protesting the verdict if he is convicted.

So I think Fox and the AP should just look the other way when Holder goes on a fishing expedition through their files, threatening anyone who gets in his way with prosecution and all the rest.

What's Wrong with the Senate Immigration Bill

Governor Jindal of Louisiana doesn't think much of the Senate immigration bill.  He's right on several levels.

First, there's a lot of stuff not connected to immigration that had to get thrown in just to grease the Democrat caucus, before even getting around to Republicans.  It's traditional congressional pork log-rolling that we can't afford when we're already $17,000 billions in debt.

Second, it's the same kind of byzantine nightmare as Obamacare - a hodgepodge of different, even conflicting ideas, which nobody has really read and nobody quite understands.  Anyone who tells you it requires border security is either not really conversant in the language of the bill or dishonest.  It may, with one hand, say it "requires" it, but with the other the senate bill allows the Executive to bypass that "requirement."  What is more, Obama is obviously willing to simply ignore laws he finds troublesome, even when he has spent several hundred thousand dollars of your money defending that law as constitutional (see his "delay" of enforcement on Obamacare).

Third, with all the "may" and "may waive" clauses in there this bill grants de facto legislative authority to the Executive on the question of immigration.  You may love Obama, you may hate him, but either way the practice of ceding more and more legislative power to the Executive bypasses the separation of powers embedded in the Constitution and essential to the preservation of liberty.  That would be true even if Abraham Lincoln or George Washington returned from the dead to become president.

Fourth - and this is one Jindal doesn't really address - it encourages mass low-skilled immigration when our own low-skilled citizens are facing unemployment rates in the 25-40% range.  I realize the official unemployment rate is just under 8%, but that is achieved by eliminating several millions from the labor force.  And that is the general unemployment rate.  Among Black youths, for instance, it is still incredibly high (over 40%).  That is largely because an entry-level employer is financially better off hiring an illegal immigrant - lower hourly wage, no unemployment insurance, no FICA, no benefits of other sorts, no OSHA headaches, no labor unions...  In the same way, for instance, that inordinately high cigarette taxes in New York City have created a black market in cigarettes there, the burdensome government impositions on labor prices have created a black market in labor, fueled by illegal immigration.

Mass low-skilled immigration - amnesty - is one of the best ways out there of keeping Black Americans poor and dependent on the government plantation.  Is it any wonder the Democrats really want it?

7.10.2013

Yet One More Example of Liberals Not Being Accountable

This is the kind of thing Chuck Colson went to jail for, and Richard Nixon was nearly impeached for.

But don't expect anything of the sort to come to the Obama administration, its allies, or anyone else in the Democrat party.  Liberals are never held accountable.

Three Reasons Why Obama Is Delaying His Own Law

This delay over implementing Obamacare is all over the news.  There are three reasons for it:

1) The law is unworkable on its face and there is no sane way to implement it;

2) Trying to implement the law will be a disaster, and Obama doesn't want the 2014 elections to be as disastrous for the Democrats as his signature legislation is for the country;

3) The way the law was rammed through over the objections of many in the Democrat party, all Republicans, and a significant majority of the populace makes it impossible for them to go back to Congress and try to fix it.

Since the courts refused to strike it down (wrongly, in this instance), Obama has no real way to salvage it but to take over the whole thing by executive fiat.  

He swore an oath to faithfully uphold the Constitution and execute the laws of the United States, and he cannot claim this particular law is in violation of the Constitution as he did with the Defense of Marriage Act - he just spent several years defending the constitutionality of Obamacare in the courts.  But then, Obama's oath meant nothing to him when he uttered it and it means nothing to him now.  This, too, is nothing new.  Besides, he much prefers to rule by fiat rather than by the terms of that (in his view) outmoded Constitution.  His entire presidency has been an extended assault on that document's limitations on executive power.  So simply deciding on his own to save his party from its own ram-rodded legislation is a solution he likes anyway.

Why I Think the Scientific "Consensus" Is Bogus

Every so often somebody comes here and insults me because I think this whole "climate change" thing is a fraud, and that the people who persuaded the CRCNA general assembly (aka Synod) to endorse it should be ashamed of themselves.

One of the standard "arguments" presented is called the argument from authority.  "Don't you know there's a scientific consensus?  Over [insert high number here] percent say it's real!"  I'm obviously a Luddite and other things because I find that less than convincing.  But I have good reason for being skeptical of such arguments.  Besides the well known fraud perpetrated by those connected with the Climate Research Unit of East Anglia University, there continues to be a fairly widespread effort to squelch and silence any research that might possibly call global warming into question.  Those who push for it have to maintain that uniformity of opinion, data be damned.

So, in the interest of pointing out the lengths to which people will go to silence any and all dissent on this question, check out what happened to a U.S. professor invited to teach at an Australian university and his Ph.D. student as reported by Powerline.  To the extent there is a consensus, it is not a scientific consensus, but a political one.

7.09.2013

From the "Formerly Free Country" Files

There's a case in Nevada pending where the police forcibly removed people from their homes in order to conduct surveillance of a neighboring home.

The police had no warrants for this temporary confiscation of property.  The homeowners had committed no crime, yet the police felt it legitimate to smash down the door of one residence, tackle the homeowner, cuff him, and haul him off.  The other homeowner was tricked out of his house, then arrested when he tried to return.  While in these homes, the police allegedly helped themselves to the owners' larders, too.  That is, they stole the families' food.

This was not a case of wildfire or flooding in which an evacuation order was handed down from the governor of mayor.  The cops simply wanted to keep watch on another house - to attain "tactical advantage."

The family is suing on the grounds this violated the 3rd Amendment's prohibition on quartering soldiers in homes.  The legal beagles are saying that won't work because cops ain't soldiers.

Whether the 3rd Amendment applies or not, if anything remotely akin to what is described in the story actually occurred, then this is a gross abuse of authority on the part of the Las Vegas police.  It should never have happened and it should never be countenanced.  I think the homeowner ought to have cooperated, but more important than his cooperation is the freedom to be secure in his own home from violent invasion by the police when he has done nothing wrong.  The officer in charge who directed the matter should be disgraced and fired.

I don't like lawsuits in general.  I think we're far too litigious as a society.  But if the description of what happened is true, then I hope this family wins.

Religion of Peace? No - Religion of Oppression

Latest from the "religion of peace" is that some of these peaceable types have been targeting schools in Nigeria.  This group, affiliated with al-Qaeda, rather demonstrates what I was saying the other day about a reasonless faith being very similar in effect to a faithless reason (the group's name means, in Hausa, "books are evil" - presumably just those books that aren't the Qur'an).  It is no wonder that Islamists have long found their greatest connection with the West via those children of the French Revolution: Communists and National Socialists.  All of them have a vision of utopia which, it seems, can only be achieved by drowning human freedom in a pool of blood.

They don't hate us because we invaded their lands.  In most instances, we haven't, and in many they are themselves invaders.  The current Palestinians don't date back to the old Philistines and Canaanites, either, but from a smorgasbord of various invaders from Europe (Greece, Rome), Asia (Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Arabs, Mongols), and Africa (Egypt).  And even if somehow some particular invasion in the last 4,000 years did bestow upon them the right to murder school children, which particular invasion of Arab lands by Nigerians has done so?  Islam came to Nigeria the same way Christianity did - foreigners brought it in using a combination of persuasion, seduction, and violence in varying proportions.

What these people hate is freedom, including the freedom to study and learn of the creation itself.  They object in particular to girls and women learning anything other than how to wear burqas and how to be appropriate sexual objects for their men.

Is that worldwide Islam? No.  But it's the majority Islam of Syria, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Yemen, and these areas of Chad, Nigeria and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa.

And they have given us a choice - either defeat them so thoroughly and completely that they cannot threaten us again, or surrender to their control.

I vote for the former.  Our president and political leadership, following the will of an impatient people, is still trying to pretend there's a third option - that somehow we can figure out a way to get along with out having to resort to such distasteful violence as defeating them would require.  I wish our enemy would permit such a course, but they won't.  The sooner we recognize that and commit ourselves to truly defeating them, the better.

7.05.2013

Reasoned Faith, Faithful Reason

Pope Francis put out the first encyclical of his pontificate – Lumens Fidei (The Light of Faith).  “Those who believe,” he writes, “see; they see with a light that illumines their entire journey, for it comes from the risen Christ, the morning star which never sets.”  In 1903, the Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck penned a brief book titled The Certainty of Faith (not the greatest PDF, but readable).  In it, he also argued that faith is a legitimate way of knowing.  This truth has largely been rejected in our present day.  

Sadly, it has been rejected even by many within the Church.  And of those who do not reject it, too often have they felt the price of accepting faith as a way of knowing entails a rejection of reason.  This juxtaposition of faith as opposed to reason undermines the Church's ministry on all levels, pulling us away from our purpose of testifying to the light of the world and towards the perennial effort to build anew the Tower of Babel.  John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and now Francis I have all tried to point out the essential unity of truth, and therefore of the means of knowing truth.  In our own tradition, besides Bavinck and Kuyper from a century ago, there are also people like Alvin Plantinga (the philosophical apologist of our age) and a few others still living for, Protestant or Catholic, this is the struggle of the Enlightenment, Modern, and Post-Modern eras – how do we know what is true, or even whether there is such a thing as truth? 

You can address the manifestations of that struggle – abortion, sexual morality (including no-fault divorce, homosexual marriage, rising numbers of absentee fathers, and all the rest), crime, poverty, etc., etc.  But we must face this foundational question if we are to resolve them even in our own minds.  How do you know it’s true?  What really does shed light upon our path?  Since the time of the French Revolution, with its heady embrace of Reason (yes, with a capital “R”), those in the upper echelons of the West have, as Francis notes, come to associate faith with darkness.  Faith is mere superstition, unreasonable, suppressing and oppressing.  At most it can fill in the gaps where Reason has not yet shed its light, but as time goes on and Reason is allowed free rein, there will be fewer of those gaps and the area of life, both personal and communal, entrusted to Faith will contract until it is nothing.  For many, that’s already happened. 

Yet, as Pope Francis says, “once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim.”  In the world of Reason alone, there is no room for love, for there is no room for what is not explained by mere matter.  This is what “materialism” really means and in it, love becomes mere physical act, and that just a matter of chemicals producing animalistic urges in various quarters of the brain.  Good and evil are meaningless concepts in this realm of materialist Reason and the love of faith is just a silly, superstitious check on the brave new world being built by Reason's light.  Michael Burleigh, in his books Earthly Powers and Sacred Causes, shows where that light has tended to take us.  The proud towers it builds are filled with the rotting corpses of millions slaughtered in its name.  You may point to the pogroms and the evils of the crusades if you wish, but nothing compares to the hundreds of millions murdered in the name of Reason in just the 20th century alone - six million Jews; tens of millions of Ukrainians, Russians, Chinese, Cambodians, and others; not to mention the tens of millions of unborn children.  The light of Reason is, by itself, very, very dark.

In the light of faith, however, there is no need to dispense with reason.  Indeed, there is every cause to welcome it.  An unreasoned faith can be as dangerous and dark as faithless reason.  Almost a thousand years ago, St. Anselm said faith must seek understanding.  Alvin Plantinga’s book Where the Conflict Really Lies also shows that faith and reason not only are compatible, but sisters.  Faith without works, James tells us, is dead.  Those works include not only feeding the hungry and clothing the poor, but thinking.  All of these – acts of charity and reasoning – must be done in the light of faith because only by this light of faith can we truly love and thus lovingly employ our minds or our hands.  Or, as Francis puts it: 
In God’s gift of faith, a supernatural infused virtue, we realize that a great love has been offered us, a good word has been spoken to us, and that when we welcome that word, Jesus Christ the Word made flesh, the Holy Spirit transforms us, lights up our way to the future and enables us joyfully to advance along that way on wings of hope. Thus wonderfully interwoven, faith, hope and charity are the driving force of the Christian life as it advances towards full communion with God.

7.03.2013

Windmills? Or Wildlife?

Score one for windmills, I guess.

There's this rare bird - hasn't been seen in the United Kingdom for over two decades.  Someone spots it, reports it, and around 80 birdwatchers come rushing out to see it....

...as it is hit by a windmill blade and killed.

Just what's a conscientious environmentalist to do in a situation like that?

Obama's Egyptian Cluster

The Egyptian military has removed Morsi from office, replacing him with the chief judge of the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court.  They have suspended the constitution.  Once the dust settles they will superintend new parliamentary elections.  This move is supported by the pope of the Coptic church and by the lead imam at Al-Azhar.

So here's how Obama, Clinton, and Kerry have played Egypt.  First, they made every indication they'd back Mubarak to the hilt and then just as he seemed to move to restore order, they pulled the rug out from under him, guaranteeing both that he would fall and that the U.S. would be blamed for his lasting as long as he did, but not receive credit for his ouster.

Then they put their hopes on "democratic elections," completely ignoring those who warned about the tendency of the general populace to support Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood which would very likely mean one-man, one-vote, one-time.  Morsi was duly elected, and continued to do what the Muslim Brotherhood has long done - maneuver closer to taking action against Israel, tweak the nose of the U.S., behave belligerently towards us and our interests, and impose shari'a on Egypt.  But they've stuck with him the more autocratic he got.  That means we have given every appearance of being totally in the tank for Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, gaining no thanks or appreciation from them while enraging their opponents.

And now the Egyptian military has ousted our man, for so he must be called.

If you look back at how the Kennedy and Johnson administrations with their so-called "brain trust" centered on Robert MacNamara thoroughly destabilized and undermined almost every effort to establish a functioning government in South Vietnam during the 1960s, you'll see some of the same kinds of stupidity on display.  The whole situation in Egypt is such that, no matter how it comes out, the U.S. will look like an incompetent, unreliable, weak, and vacillating collection of puffed-up, over-educated imbeciles.

Obama and the Democrats vs. Liberty

The Obama administration continues its battle against freedom on many fronts.  

There is, as we've mentioned before, their endorsement of Hugo Chavez, the Muslim Brotherhood, Erdogan in Turkey, and other enemies of both this country and of liberty.  Don't forget their endorsement of the Iranian regime when the so-called "Arab Spring" got to their sad shores.  It was OK for people in Egypt and Libya to demand democracy - they'd likely vote in islamo-fascists like Morsi - but the Iranians should accept their tyrants with equanimity.  Obama's fascination with the EU is yet another example of his fondness for systems that pretend to give people a voice but which in fact ignore those voters and their voices, even squelch them.

The IRS scandal in this country is yet another example.  Regardless of whether or not Obama personally directed it, there is little doubt that he liked it.  He has done everything he can to protect the perpetrators, to hide them in other government sinecures, and to stonewall the congressional investigations attempting to expose them.  Couple this with his attack dog at the so-called Department of Justice lunging menacingly at journalists who don't tow the party line and it's obvious he thinks free speech should not be allowed those who do not kiss the emperor's ring.

And let's not forget his attacks on voting rights - yes, voting rights.  Not just the efforts to prevent eminently reasonable identification requirements so as to ensure only legally authorized voters cast only one vote each, but his support of voter intimidation by the New Black Panthers and other quasi-criminal gangs in northern cities, his inactive approach to voter fraud, his support for union intimidation, and other winks and nods to various groups of thugs.

Obamacare is nothing if not one huge, sustained attack on freedom.  You no longer have the freedom to decide whether or not you want to purchase insurance, nor how much insurance you wish to buy.  You don't have the freedom to decide what you want that insurance to cover, either.  Employers do not have the freedom to offer it or not offer it, or decide just what they wish to offer, either.  Even if you think certain medical procedures are immoral or unethical, you have no option to not include it in the insurance you or your employer must now buy.  Our magnificent, beneficent overlords will decide what is or is not moral for us.  Being pro-choice only goes so far.  Some choices are not acceptable - such as the choice to neither have nor pay for abortion.  And once you're ill, the government will decide what medical care is appropriate (or not), not you or your physician.  This, by the way, will be administered by the IRS - the same agency that thinks conservatives should not be allowed the same privileges in fund raising and public speaking that leftists are given.

That the administration has so far failed in its efforts to undermine your right to own a gun is no mitigation of their steadfast determination to eventually take it away.  Only they can be trusted with guns.  Citizens with guns are too independent, too unreliable.

We've got at least three more years of this national thuggery.  One wonders if the placid voters with their bread and circuses will value their freedom sufficiently to push back in 2014 and 2016, or if the majority will meekly endorse the erosion of liberty.  I am not particularly hopeful.

7.02.2013

Why Are We Doing This Again?

Just pointing out a couple things regarding Syria from two posts on National Review's Corner blog.  

The first was posted by Jonah Goldberg at 2:42 pm yesterday and notes that a rebel group affiliated with al-Qaeda beheaded a Franciscan priest in Syria.  These are the guys Obama wants to help without really helping because he's got to look like he's doing something against Assad since Assad used chemical weapons.

The second was posted at 3:22 pm yesterday by Benjamin Weinthal - a mere 40 minutes later - and noted that their enemy, Hezbollah, is being aided by Europe as it seeks to recruit fighters and raise funds, as well as kill whatever Jews they can find scattered about the European landscape.  Hezbollah is backed by the Iranians and is trying to buttress Assad's regime by killing off the folks Obama's trying to help without really helping.

And I'm still trying to figure out why we want to take sides in this particular civil war.

Lack Substance? Advertise!

Obamacare is gearing up to be an unmitigated disaster, but then, all sane, rational people already knew that.  So, what to do?

Well, what do most folks do when they have to sell crap nobody wants?  They find a celebrity dumb enough to shill for it and set up a massive marketing campaign to persuade people they really really really need the slicing-dicing-thingy from Ronco as seen on TV!

Wisely, Major League Baseball, the NHL, and the NFL have both resisted the administration's efforts to get them on board.  There are still plenty of Hollywood types who know they'll never be limited by the legislation in terms of their own health care and so are quite willing to help shove it on the rest of us, but that doesn't seem to have as big an impact as it used to.  People aren't interested in Kim Kardashian because of her expertise on health policy.

Moving on down the list, they've got the American Library Association to lend a hand.  You have got to know that an organization called "American Library Association" is going to be a bunch of leftist hacks who bemoan the fact that hardly anybody checks out the near-pristine copies of Dostoevsky and Maya Angelou instead of the 86th Danielle Steel bestseller, so that's not exactly a coup.  If it helped a Democrat get elected, they'd hand-carry coal to Newcastle while polishing their boots with moist bovine fecal matter.  The influence of the ALA on the general public, however, is not likely to be all that significant.

Get ready, folks.  Starting next year we're going to find out a little bit more about what's in the bill.  And when we do, expect all sorts of media outfits to blame the Republicans for it and insist that the only way to fix it is to give the government yet more authority over your health care.

And expect the dim bulbs who voted for Obama to believe it, too.

Enjoying a Bit of Schadenfreude

The German and French governments (among others) are now upset over the revelation that the U.S. National Security Agency has been eavesdropping on their phone and e-mail conversations.

Huh?

Excuse me, but did you fail to notice that this was, oh, how can I put this?  Didn't you know this is the NSA's advertised job?  They are, after all, routinely referred to as an agency of "spooks," spies, and so on.  I've got news for you.  The CIA is probably spying on you, too.

The furor over the matter in the U.S. is that spying on U.S. citizens is not the NSA's job.  There's also the fact that American citizens are supposed to be protected by our Constitution against unwarranted spying by our own government, but the Constitution doesn't presume to protect us from spying by other countries' efforts to spy on us.  True, espionage is a crime, and one of the FBI's primary tasks is countering it, but we rather expect China to be attempting it - and Russia, and Britain, and Germany, and Israel, and Brazil, and Iran, and...  If these same people aren't expecting us to spy on them, they're either incredibly naive, or just plain stupid.

Information is power, and in the matter of global politics, there is an ongoing subterranean effort by almost every government that ever existed to hide knowledge from others while discovering the knowledge those others are trying to hide.

I must say I'm experiencing a bit of schadenfreude at the apparent shock by the Euro-weenies that Obama's administration is still spying on them, as well as the Obama administration's shock that our would-be Dear Leader is not so dear as he used to be.  Both are experiencing a bit of reality raining on their fantasy parades.  I don't expect them to adjust their core beliefs to this reality, mind you.  They are all of them firmly committed in their faith and no evidence will ever dissuade them.  Still it's fun to watch them squirm.

Another Dismal Look at U.S. Foreign Relations

The president's vaunted foreign policy reset is falling apart.  Or I should say, it has fallen apart.  

After the so-called "Arab Spring" erupted in Egypt, the president went out of his way to tie the U.S. to Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.  Now that a significant chunk of Egypt is in open revolt against him, Obama's move has served only to further connect the U.S. with support of autocratic tyrants in the region.

He held back in Syria - which I think was wise - and now he's waffling on that largely in response to international pressure rather than any firm idea of U.S. interests.  It's looking like he'll jump in just in time to further enrage our friends without seriously challenging our enemies.

His intervention in Libya only made that a mess, culminating in arming our enemies and acquiescing to their murder of our ambassador and three other Americans.

He's made the already complex dog's breakfast of Palestinian-Israeli relations even worse.  About the only good thing to come out of it is the Palestinians may finally be learning that they can't rely on the U.S. any more than Israel can.

He's completely taken aback by events in Turkey.

In Afghanistan he's in the process of losing an eminently winnable war.  In Iraq he's losing an eminently winnable peace.  And with Iran he's dithering away whatever options we might have while strengthening the regime.

And that's just the Middle East.  In Europe, Putin obviously considers Obama a prize idiot of pontificating sanctimony and struggles not to make his contempt so obvious even the New York Times can tell.  The rest of Europe seems to share this view.

In Asia, India, South Korea, the Philippines, and Japan have been quiet largely because they just don't want Obama to make anything worse.  Indonesia is moving away from us, too.  China runs rings around us, stealing our technology, our secrets, and our military hardware almost with impunity.

South America is moving in a totalitarian direction, too, as Obama embraced first Chavez, then other dictatorial sorts while giving the cold-shoulder to those trying to establish genuine democracies.  His administrations activities in Mexico have done nothing but worsen our relations there, too.

Africa is seeing open religious war throughout the center of the continent, mostly ignored in the U.S. and a president who's assessment of matters seems not to go much beyond the headlines on the front page of USA Today.

The world simply does not operate as he seems to think it does.  The kind of crap tossed around by college kids who are caught up in the nostrums of their professors and want to feel relevant and involved has become the guiding principle of U.S. statecraft over the last 5 years with predictable results.  It will get worse, although it's hard to imagine how much worse it can get without breaking into open war.  Such is the result of a sophomoric leftist as president.