Thursday, December 31, 2009

The History of Liberalism

This might be a longer than usual post. Michael McBride's latest article purports to give a history of liberalism, leading up to it's natural conclusion, which is public nudity. Yep. Liberalisms end game is public nudity. Bet you didn't see that coming.

But let's not neglect the journey.
American liberalism initially manifested itself with the emergence of suffrage drives, with Wilson’s pandering for the League of Nations, and with the relaxing of mores during the twenties. Morals were plied with the consumption of prohibited beverages and further trod upon by the liberating sense of rebellion that came with doing so.
Hmmmmm. Well he's partially right - the late 1800s early 1900s did contain the progressives, and Wilson did try to create the League of Nations (which Congress then neutered). On the other hand it's hilarious for McBride to imply the Jazz age was some kind of liberal period - rather the government was thoroughly conservative in policy and program. And liberals of that period were more likely to be pro-Prohibition rather than avid drinkers. I suppose he's trying to make a connection to the sixties, but it's rather tenuous. Still it's not as ahistorical as the next bit.
Such exuberance was quickly snuffed out by the harsh realities of the Great Depression, Nazism, the bleak existence most families found themselves in, and the eventual national commitment to a two front war. There was scant time available for dalliances with anything that wasn’t practical and immediate. Concepts and ideas outside of the very real and necessary were left to those in the colleges of America and Europe or to professional philosophers and theorists.
I find myself wondering if McBride has ever heard of the New Deal, which kind of sprung up out of the harsh realities of the Great Depression. Or FDR, Liberal Icon, who ran the country during this period. Or the dozens of progressive programs that got there start in the 1930s. I guess not.
Then, after a relatively brief period of peace, America elected a young Senator from the uber-liberal state of Massachusetts, and liberalism was once again uncorked. Fermented by years of being bottled up by the necessities imposed by the outside world, liberalism was unleashed full tilt into a generation excited by the charisma of a core of liberal politicos who enthralled them. Eager to escape their depression educated parents and their parents’ puritanical concepts in child rearing; this generation accelerated past the standard bearers and never looked back. Chicago 1968.

Based on the reasonable concepts of equal civil rights (although it took Republicans to actually get civil rights legislation passed in the sixties; over objections of many Democrats), women’s rights, taking care of the poor and protecting the weak, liberal thought was embraceable by many who felt blessed in those heady times.
I particularly like the one line reference to Chicago 1968. Charitably I'll assume he intended to expand on the idea, and put that in there to remind himself, but forgot. I'll also note that while Republicans did support Civil Rights Legislation, Conservatives did not. And those Conservatives who fought against Civil Rights legislation soon found a new home in the Republican Party where they have been to this day.

And then we get to McBride's denouement - the goal of Liberalism.
Soon liberal thought pushed well past the novel concepts of civil rights, sexual equality, and governmental support of the poor, to free love, sexual freedom, feminism, abortion rights, and exaggerated forms of freedom of expression, including; burning the flag, urinating and defecating on religious symbols, vulgarity in art and music, tolerance of all manner and combination of sexual encounters, right to self-euthanize, and the consumption of all manner of mind bending drugs, among others.
Fascinating. But I suppose this puts his earlier nonsensical comments about prohibition in context. And the argument that Public Nudity is Liberalisms endgame. Although I think urinating and defecating on religious symbols might be worse than public nudity. He gets around to a very liberal town with a very liberal public nudity policy in which some of the residents are upset at the amount of public nudity. So some liberals think there should be more public nudity while others think there should be less public nudity. This exposes the fault lines of modern liberalism between the crazy extremist liberals and the moderate liberals. He cheerfully predicts that these differences will destroy the liberal movement shortly, and hopes that conservatives are ready to take over.

I don't know - I am anti-public-nudity (particularly my own (there are individuals for whom my anti-public-nudity stance is weaker, but it's chilly and rainy here today and it just seems cruel to expect them to walk around naked)), and yet I am still willing to vote for and support Democrats and Liberals. Perhaps I'm an outlier.

Where does President Obama stand on Public Nudity?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Smash Terrorists Now!

Austin Bay's latest article is on a subject that's pretty popular around the right wing right now; President Obama is a wimp for not immediately blowing the hell out of Yemen. Austin Bay's is not unique, but it is pretty representative.
Big mouths hooked to minds fogged with anti-American cant hindered U.S. defense efforts during the Cold War. Their descendant America haters in the Internet era provide philosophical succor to al-Qaida. The fanatics interpret apologies and guilt-trips as signs of weakness and incipient decay, the bleats of a corrupt culture wallowing in self-doubt. This is not conjecture. Pro-terrorists websites see the defeatist tripe as a divine sign al-Qaida is winning.

For decades, the Blame Amerika Crowd has made a media living alleging attacks on American citizens, U.S. embassies and U.S. territory are somehow, someway provoked by the U.S. The "America Is Guilty" smear would be a laugher except the major TV networks and The New York Times give this baloney headline credence, especially when a Republican is president.
Yeah - it's all liberals fault. I mean other than invading Afghanistan and Iraq, bombing the hell out other parts of the Middle East, strongly supporting Israel, supporting repressive regimes (like Saddam Hussein for a while) it's not like we've ever done anything to the Middle East.

In fairness I think many of those (particularly our alliance with Israel and the invasion of Afghanistan) can be defended. But it is somewhat sad to believe that some in the middle east might disagree. I'm reminded of something Paul O'Brien said a while back about a particularly heinous Captain America comic book.
For christ's sake, the central argument of this issue fancies itself as a comparison between the moral values of Al-Qaeda and the USA. Even without turning Al-Qaeda into one-dimensional cartoons or airbrushing American history, it would scarcely be a challenge to bring the USA out on top in this argument. But the suggestion that the other side might have a point, or that the USA could be remotely flawed, is inadmissible in this comic. Repellently, a flimsy facsimile of a counter-argument is put forward so that it can be brushed aside, under pretext of showing the opposite side of the argument. That's your counter-argument, get back to waving your flags.
But no in the world of small minded Austin Bay, there are no reasons for terrorists to hate and no reason to consider what we might do differently.

We are back to "If we kill enough of them Muslims they're bound to start liking us." Fortunately the man actually in charge doesn't seem to subscribe to that point of view.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

News from the Past - December 29, 1929

Depressing news from the past this Sunday of long ago. Among the rejected stories was one about a rancher who's killed himself after getting his ankle crushed by a horse and another saying that the fundamentals of the economy are still strong. But instead I went with this story that is initially funny and then sad, from the Helena Independent out of Helena, Montana.
Supposed Dead Hubby
Returns for Spouse

Kansas City, Dec. 28.—(£•)—In 1921, Wilber M Rogers married Mrs. Albert Farley. They moved to a home near Overland Park, Kan. Recently two men came to the home.
"We want to see the family Bible " they told Rogers.
"Why"" Rogers demanded.
"Because I am Albert Farley, your wife's first husband, and this is our son," said the older of the
two men.
Then the elder Farley explained he was not dead, as his wife had been informed by a telegram years ago after a separation of several years. Farley has been seeking his wife for years, not knowing she had married again.
Rogers has filed an annulment suit in district court and written the details of the reappearance of
Farley to the wife, who is at present caring for an invalid mother in Canton. N. Y.
"One husband is enough for one woman and Farley has prior claim." philosophizes Rogers.
Like I say funny then sad.

Healthcare Reform Revisited

Again I generally want to see the healthcare bill pass, but I can't deny there are a lot of problems with it, particularly the Senate Christmas Bill. Bob Herbert highlights some of these problems in his latest article.
Within three years of its implementation, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the tax would apply to nearly 20 percent of all workers with employer-provided health coverage in the country, affecting some 31 million people. Within six years, according to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, the tax would reach a fifth of all households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 annually. Those families can hardly be considered very wealthy.

Proponents say the tax will raise nearly $150 billion over 10 years, but there’s a catch. It’s not expected to raise this money directly. The dirty little secret behind this onerous tax is that no one expects very many people to pay it. The idea is that rather than fork over 40 percent in taxes on the amount by which policies exceed the threshold, employers (and individuals who purchase health insurance on their own) will have little choice but to ratchet down the quality of their health plans.

These lower-value plans would have higher out-of-pocket costs, thus increasing the very things that are so maddening to so many policyholders right now: higher and higher co-payments, soaring deductibles and so forth. Some of the benefits of higher-end policies can be expected in many cases to go by the boards: dental and vision care, for example, and expensive mental health coverage.

Proponents say this is a terrific way to hold down health care costs. If policyholders have to pay more out of their own pockets, they will be more careful — that is to say, more reluctant — to access health services. On the other hand, people with very serious illnesses will be saddled with much higher out-of-pocket costs. And a reluctance to seek treatment for something that might seem relatively minor at first could well have terrible (and terribly expensive) consequences in the long run.
It is pretty troubling to consider. I hope that some elements of this draconian plan can be smoothed out in committee or over the next few years.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Few Pastors

Star Parker's latest article is calling us to repentance in this holiday season, referring back to 9/11.
After the horrendous attacks on September 11, 2001, a few Christian pastors stepped up to say that the unprecedented violation of America's homeland was a sign of weakness within our nation.

They weren't talking about how we gather intelligence or how we check travelers at the airport.

. . . The weakness which led to our vulnerability on that infamous September day, said those pastors, was moral, not technical. For this, they were widely denounced.
Presumably she's talking about Jerry Falwell's statement shortly after the bombing.
The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'
So, this is the sort of thinking that Star Parker wants to celebrate. Of course she doesn't cite this quote or even reference the individuals involved (Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, on whose show Falwell made these quotes and who agreed with him (later claiming he hadn't actually heard what Falwell said)). I suppose because the ugliness of the remarks would turn off some people, and the people who wouldn't be turned off by the quotes already know them.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ben Shapiro, Still Young After All These Years

Most people studying the healthcare bill about to be passed by congress have twigged to the fact that it's a giveaway to the insurance industry. Jonah Goldberg admits as much in his latest article, and why not. It's not like people are raring to defend health insurance companies.

But not Ben Shapiro; in his latest article, he's determined to paint the insurance companies as victims (even as he calls for consumers to stop using them).
Congressional Democrats, after all their faux wrangling, open bribery and bully tactics, are poised to reach agreement on a massive makeover of the American health system. This makeover will bankrupt the insurance companies, raise premiums, and eventually lead to the full nationalization of health care.
He recommends that American doctors begin refusing payments from both insurers and medicaid, and only consent to treat patients who pay for their own health care. This will somehow bring costs down through "competition." Another possibility - the Doctors trying this foolish scheme go out of business as their customers go across the street to someone who will take their health insurance/medicaid cards.

He also encourages every healthy American to refuse to get health insurance and to be willing to go to court to fight for the right not to have health insurance, and he advocates not electing Obama or Democrats. OK, I kind of see where he's coming from on that last one.

Still it does kind of speak to Shapiro's mentality. I'm not a fan of the phrase Ivory Tower Academic, but it does seem to fight Shapiro - he really doesn't seem to have a clue how the world works.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Generic War on Christmas Post

I have been tired of the War on Christmas for a long time, and have largely avoided it this season. But sometimes you come across something you gotta flag up. Matt Barber's latest article takes on this subject with traditional subtlety.
Are you as annoyed as I am by that nauseatingly amorphous phrase “Happy Holidays?” You may be interested to know that the mindset behind the term precedes America’s postmodern love affair with political correctness, tracing back to good ol’ fashioned Cold War Communism (PC’s uglier big sister).

Indeed, today’s secularist war on Christmas (yes, the one that, like God, many liberals deny exists) was waged, in large part, when Communists began attempting to supplant the deity of Christ (and His associated Judeo-Christian principles) with the false deity of the State.
It's a pretty traditional take on the system. He has one example of this omnipresent war on Christmas (a school in Wisconsin that rewrote the lyrics to Silent Night). It's got the connections to Communist Russia (obviously). The muddleheaded suggestion that liberals want Americans to worship government. The total lack of awareness that other faiths have holidays around this time of year. In other words it's a vigorous but somewhat same-y article on the war on Christmas.

I really do think that Conservatives are in danger of being the boys who cried "war on Christmas." This year these articles do not seem as high pitched as previous, and given American Conservatives concern about who is in the White House, you'd think there would be an uptick in this type of story. Maybe there is but I haven't been seeing it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Evil President Obama

Robert Chapin's latest article lacks a certain restraint when it comes to discussing President Obama.
Never before in our history has an American president, deliberately and by design, risked our very survival to a maniacal enemy power sworn to remove America from the world. Yet from all appearances, this is exactly what Obama is doing by failing to vigorously oppose Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.

. . . The practical consequences of Obama’s extreme radical left agenda can only be to put our nation at the mercy of a new world order dominated by ruthless tyrants, thugs and spineless states who sell their souls for commercial gain. His first allegiance is to such an international order – not to the United States.

Obama is not only unfit to serve as commander-in-chief in a time of war, he is a menace to our national security.

. . . Take heed America, Obama’s policies may be paving the way for a nuclear doomsday.
Let's give Chapin some credit. Unlike most Muslim Menace articles, he at least does say what he wants Obama to do. Vigorously fund Missile Defense and invade Iran, with or without the international community. Those seem like foolish steps to me, but it's better than vague pronouncements that we need to do something to stop Muslims without actually saying what we need to do.

Still he does seem a bit over the top doesn't he? I suppose in his minds the steps he advocates are so clear and obvious that for Obama not to be following them proves he's on the Mullah's side. I think Mr. Chapin needs to get out a bit more.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Health Care

I generally come down on the side of the health care debate that says that this is the best bill we could get just now, and it's a lot better than the status quo so lets pass it and amend it. I am concerned that failure to pass something will lead to another 15 years of no progress on this issue and I'm not in favor of that.

That said, I find this post by Glenn Greenwald, arguing that President Obama's protestations of innocence are a little disingenuous.
. . . the idea that the White House did what it could to ensure the inclusion of progressive provisions -- or that they were powerless to do anything about it -- is absurd on its face. Whatever else is true, the overwhelming evidence points to exactly what Sen. Feingold said yesterday: "This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place."
I kind of agree, and find myself wondering what was possible if President Obama had gone to the mattress for what he claimed to support.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

You are known by the company you keep

Terry Jeffries latest article argues that Obama should be against marriage, church going, prosperity and longevity. Apparently Obama does well with people who aren't married, who don't go to church, who aren't prosperous, or who haven't lived that long.

This is kind of a slam on Obama but it makes no sense if you spend even a moment thinking about it. The Church Goer thing, well, that's been around for a while, but the other ones? Does it occur to Jeffries that maybe the reason the poor support Obama is that they would like the opportunity to get prosperous? And the split between youth voters and older voters has been around since the 60s.

He also presents statistics that, for example, show that 42% of church goers support Obama (although a higher percentage of non-church goers or occasional church goers support Obama), which kind of implies that many church goers do, in fact, like Obama and like what he is doing. He presents similar statistics for the other groups. Similar figures exist in all of his categories. And yet he has the courage to make this statement.
The people who form the backbone of our society -- the married, churchgoing, hard-working, experienced members of our national community -- do not believe what Obama is doing today as president serves their interests.
Jeffrey is positing a split in this society based on faulty math and wishful thinking. He is pitting the successful against the failures, the old against the young, the married against the singles, when the figures he presents don't really support that interpretation. At the very least you have to admit that all of the categories he presents are divided on whether or not President Obama is doing a good job.

Fair enough. He's not making an argument that actually makes sense, rather he is stroking the egos of his readers. Always a popular policy, even if it is less the honest at times.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

You Have to Understand the Argument before You Can Refute It

Dennis Prager's latest article asks the question of whether or not America is focused on making good people anymore. He takes the time to note that he, like many conservatives, believes that external conditions do not create bad people, and poverty doesn't lead to crime.
Now, while no one could possibly refute the argument that starving people will steal bread for their families (an act that is morally defensible), the argument that poverty causes crime posits that when poor people in America commit murder and other violent crimes, it is because they are poor.

This is irrational dogma, as much a matter of faith as any theological doctrine. Two simple facts illustrate this: First, the vast majority of poor people, in America and elsewhere, do not commit violent crimes. Second, a large amount of crime is committed by the middle class and even by the wealthy. Neither fact prompts the "poverty causes crime" believers to rethink their position.
This is a lousy argument on a few points, but mostly because Prager doesn't seem to understand what the argument is.

Poverty doesn't make people into criminals; people have the opportunity to choose (Prager is right on this point). What poverty does, to put it in a religious sense, is tempt people to commit crimes. If you are poor, and you don't see any legitimate way out of your poverty, crime becomes a viable escape route. If society seems broken and doesn't flat work for some people, than those people are going to turn to methods outside of society.

Consider for a moment; both Christianity and Judaism consider fornication (i.e. sex outside of marriage) a sin. Lets say, some perverse billionaire decides to just mess with people, so he opens a free whore house. Totally free and safe. Hygienic. Yes, many people would decide not to go to the free whore house. But some would. Over time, many would (particularly as people got the idea that there weren't direct consequences to their actions). The spiritual damage to the community would presumably be great (and, in fairness, there would probably be some direct family damage as well). In that context is it enough for the Billionaire to say "Well some people aren't coming around to my free whore house. And look some people are fornicating with work mates. So you can't hold me responsible for the spiritual damage my free whore house is causing."

That's a pretty sad argument in fact. When you take action to create temptation, you are sinning yourself. And it is perhaps a more serious sin than those who fall into your trap. Consider Jeremiah 5:25-27.
25 Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.

26 For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men.

27 As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich.
I think that describes my fictional billionaire pretty well. And, perhaps, that describes us a society. Not all the time and not all of us, but when we are basically happy to let children grow up in poverty, grow up without hope, without dreams, well, maybe that's not the best thing in the world. And it reflects badly on us as a society.

Monday, December 14, 2009

History Moons

Specifically history should moon Allen Hunt, for his latest aticle. I do feel kind of silly taking a "Muslim Menace" article to task for not being historical, but there it is. In his latest article, Hunt attacks Obama for noting that the evils of Islam are the evils of a few and that the religion as a whole isn't a threat to America. This conflicts with Hunts assertion that Islam is an evil and violent religion.

In particular he berates Obama for bringing up the Crusades. Apparently a gentleman named Jonathan Riley-Smith has written a book on the Crusades which asserts that the Crusades were all the Muslims fault and that Western Europe acted honorably throughout the period. Quite an assertion.
President Obama continues to show a lack of history education as he likens the Crusaders to the Muslim jihadists. That ignorance is unacceptable. One would hope that in an Ivy League education that included undergraduate years at Columbia and law school at Harvard, the President would have had access to a non-politically correct reading of history.
This is ahistorical. If Riley-Smith's book does literally assert that the Christians are completely innocent of any wrong doing during the Crusades, it is so out of step with the historical record and historical opinion as to be, at the least, controversial. Taking Obama to task for failing to agree with the one person Hunt agrees with and then portraying Obama as ignorant for failing to agree with the one person Hunt agrees with, well, I've describe such behavior as childish before.

Hunt plays the numbers game as well.
Given that about 0.6% (1.35 MM) of the adult American population is Muslim according to the most recent American Religious Identification Survey, that very small population clearly generates an inordinate number of terroristic males.
This will be enough to convince idiots impressed by the mere existence of numbers, but of course isn't very convincing when you look at what he's actually saying. The relevant numbers would be the ones that showed what percent of Muslim men are committing these crimes, presumably compared to what percent of the general public commits violent crimes. But those numbers, I'm guessing, don't back up Hunt's point, so he brings up this nonsensical comparison.

Hunt also suggests that as a Noble Peace Prize winner, Obama should be the first to declare war on Islam (like all Muslim Menace articles Hunt fails to suggest what he thinks should actually be done about the Mulims in our midst). Not sure if Hunt understands what Obama got the award for.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Paul Krugman on Healthcare

I haven't read Krugman in a while, but he's still quite good. His latest notes that the current health care bill will make significant strides in bringing down the cost of healthcare. Not exactly what Republicans are saying, but he seems convincing enough to me.
. . . the proposed health care reform links the expansion of coverage to serious cost-control measures for Medicare. Think of it as a grand bargain: coverage for (almost) everyone, tied to an effort to ensure that health care dollars are well spent.

Are we talking about real savings, or just window dressing? Well, the health care economists I respect are seriously impressed by the cost-control measures in the Senate bill, which include efforts to improve incentives for cost-effective care, the use of medical research to guide doctors toward treatments that actually work, and more. This is “the best effort anyone has made,” says Jonathan Gruber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Unfortunately he notes that the Republican party has made strenuous efforts to demonize this particular part of the plan, meaning that, if this bill fails, meaningful reform may have to wait another few decades at which point the situation will be a lot worse.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Limbaugh and Hannity

I listened to a bit of Limbaugh and Hannity yesterday. Limbaugh was down on Obama's speech on Afghanistan, saying that we were basically promising to surrender in a year and a half. He then commented on the theory that we would build up the Afghan Troops, stating that some of them don't even know what a pencil is. I swear I heard this, and it really made me laugh, but I can't find the quote.

Then Hannity had a person on who had been to see Sarah Palin. Apparently Sarah Palin had autographed his back, and he had immediately run out and gotten a tattoo of the signature. What was that about Obama's cult of personality again?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

I'm Down

David Limbaugh's latest article is on Healthcare Reform, or Obamacare as he calls it.
With the information that has now come to light about the costs of "reform," there is no other rational explanation for Obama's obsession to enact Obamacare than his desire to increase government control over every aspect of our lives.
No other rational explanation. I guess those of us who think he and congressional Democrats might actually want to improve health care are irrational.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Justice is Weeping

Austin Hills latest article concerns the trial of some of those held at Guantenamo in New York. As you might expect he is upset at the prospect. And surprisingly enough he makes some good points.
What happens to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, if he is acquitted? “Failure is not an option” Mr. Holder explained in a Senate inquiry. Oh yeah? What about that thing called “due process?” Has the outcome of this trial been pre-determined? Are we to understand that “the fix is in?”Even a lay person like me can see that the outcomes of court trials are often highly unpredictable.

. . . And then there was our President, Barack Obama, who also stated that KSM will be convicted and executed. But what did that mean? Was this the President merely expressing confidence that his vision would become reality, as politicians so often do? Or was this the Executive Branch of our government pr-determining what the judicial branch will and will not do?
Those are some good questions - if you are going to put anybody up for trial you need to at least hold out the possibility that they might be found innocent. If you hold a trial and the outcome is predetermined, well, there's a word for that, and it's show trial.

That said, he doesn't have much of an answer either in my mind.
If, on the other hand, the Guantanamo Bay facility were defined as a “POW camp,” then those being detained there would be “enemy soldiers,” and would be subject to “rules of war” set forth in international law.

. . . By legal definition, a war is not a legal proceeding, and what happens on the battle field is not the same thing as what happens in a criminal investigation.
Fair enough, but prisoners of war are not held forever, nor are they considered guilty of anything other than being on the other side in a war. We didn't execute Germans or Japanese soldiers, except the leaders, who got trials at Nuremburg (those who weren't dead already). Those international laws Hill is referencing do not permit us to wantonly kill prisoners of war (and conservative opinion of those international laws, which include the Geneva convention, has been a bit shaky over the past few years anyway).

All this to say that Obama's plan for dealing with Guantenamo is pretty faulty, and is leaving himself open to these kinds of attacks, mixing some good points with some nonsense.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

American Exceptionalism

Dennis Pragers latest is about how Obama is ruining his Thanksgiving. Poor Mr. Prager. In particularly he is upset about Obama not believing in American Exceptionalism, which he helpfully defines.
It also includes an abiding belief in American exceptionalism, meaning that America has usually known better what is good for the world than any world body, that America's moral compass is generally more accurate than that of other nations, let alone the United Nations. This is not because Americans are born better or any such nonsense, but because American values have produced a particularly uncynical, idealistic nation, more willing to die for others than any nation in recorded history.
Very good statement of the doctrine of American Exceptionalism.

It does sort of mandate an arrogant foreign policy. We basically tell the rest of the world "Our values are better than yours and we know what's best for you." I'm not sure that's guaranteed to get the best results.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Gay Rights

Robert Knight's latest article is interesting in how it opposite it seems from reality. He is taking on America's Homosexuals, who he inexplicably paints them as seemingly all powerful bullies intent on doing horrible things like passing ordinances that protect them from discrimination.

Yep - those all powerful gays are fighting really hard against being discriminated against. Robert Knight is standing up for Churches and individuals who want to discriminate against them. It's so backwards to reality.

Knight takes particular issue with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
A shocking example of a religious institution cowering before its opponents and suing for peace at Caesar’s throne is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ outright endorsement last week of a “gay rights” law in Salt Lake City. In essence, the law redefines biblical sexual morality into a form of actionable bigotry, turning ordinary people with traditional values into the legal equivalent of hateful racists. Adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to non-discrimination laws is the gateway to the entire homosexual political agenda, from harassing the Boy Scouts to forcing pro-homosexual programs into the schools and workplace. It is also an indispensable step for the creation of same-sex “marriage.” For a conservative religious institution like the LDS to embrace it is not only immoral but suicidal.
Again, Knight paints this law as an assault on Christianity. If Christians aren't free to oppress Gays than they are being persecuted and attacked. I've commented on this syndrome before. To certain Conservatives, if Conservative Christians don't get everything they want, they are being persecuted.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The War on Terror

Sorry not to be around this week - I have been ill and am still coming out of it.

Anyway credit where credit is do, Jonah Goldberg's latest article is not totally unredeemable.
Ultimately, the disagreement is one of first principles. If we are at war, then the rules of war apply. The fact that this is a war unlike others we've fought should not mean that it isn't a war at all.

Don't tell that to Obama. He's made it clear that he doesn't see the threat as an unconventional war but as a conventional law-enforcement problem. The attorney general insists that 9/11 is a matter for civilian courts.
OK he kind of kills it in the second paragraph, but the first paragraph is essentially accurate. Is the War on Terror a War or isn't it?

Or, to be more precise, are people captured in the war on terror captured on the battlefield or aren't they? See if they are captured on the battlefield than we can hold them in one way and if they are captured as civilians we have to treat them another way. This underlines the essential problem in the phrase "War on Terror" because the battlefield is, well, pretty much everywhere. Which implies that the Government can pick up anybody, anywhere, hold them for as long as they want and then dump them, with no recourse.

You might think I'm exaggerating but this has already happened several times. The Uighars held at Guantanemo for example. Others that we have turned over to countries who have somewhat less stringent rules on torture.

So Goldberg is right, this is about first principles. He wants the Government to be able to arrest anybody they want and hold them for as long as they like, so long as we are in a "War on Terror." Obama somewhat agrees with that (as Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, his policy on this seems to guarantee that terrorists will be found guilty, and a venue in which they can be found guilty will be selected for them. Greenwald has also pointed out how this makes it difficult to defend trying some of them in New York.).

I am not insensitive to the difficulties of fighting this particular war, but I don't think we should abandon our principles to do it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bravely pointing out typing Errors since 2002

I assume this is an error. This is from Kevin McCullough's latest article, in which he argues against the rule of law on the grounds that it would be psychologically difficult for New Yorkers.
These trial proceedings will reopen the still mending emotional, psychological, and physical wounds of 9/11. In deciding with such reckless abandon to make a political pay-off to the far left, and the radical Islamic sympathizers they ignorantly embolden, President Obama is ripping the stitches out of the hearts of those that have wondered if closure will ever come. When the Attorney General promises court room cameras and complete transparency of the proceedings, he seems to ignore the possibility of radicals on camera shouting inaudible commands, jibes, and insults at those in the room as well as those sitting in caves across the globe.
I assume he means audible rather than inaudible. It's hard to shout inaudibly.

As for the desire to abandon the rule of law, I disagree with McCullough. I believe that our founders were inspired when they created it, and that many good and great men have toiled in the vineyards of justice to create our modern legal system. Yes it has problems, but it is more than equal to the task of providing justice to these men.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Treason and Intellectual Honesty

Austin Bay's latest article is about how Liberals throw around the term traitor too easily, in contrast to a real traitor like that guy who shot up Fort Hood, killing several people. Let's take a moment and be grateful that this isn't another Muslim Menace article.

Bay refers to an ad by MoveOn.Org which renamed General Petraeus as "General Betray Us," and Joe Klien suggesting that some of Fox News' programming was seditious (both pretty stupid in my opinion). He compares these to instances to the Joe McCarthy witch hunts.

Bay does not, of course, bring up the writings of Ann Coulter, a fellow contributor to Townhall, who has certainly thrown around the phrase and, in fact, wrote a whole book exonerating Joe McCarthy and encouraging new witch hunts against liberals. Kind of intellectually dishonest not to acknowledge that the problem isn't limited to liberals, in my opinion.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Compare and Contrast

I will note at the top that both of these articles come from the Conservative website
Maybe Hasan is just a homicidal lunatic set to work by fevered demons inside his brain. But post-9/11, you can't be a killer who happens to be a Muslim. If you're a killer, it has to be because you're a Muslim.
Steve Chapman, "Muslims and Mass Murder"
According to witnesses, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan entered a medical facility at Fort Hood, prayed briefly, then shouted "Allahu akbar" before he began gunning down American troops. Now I don't know which to be more afraid of: Muslims or government-run health care systems.
Ann Coulter, "Muslim Suffers Bruised Ego in Fort Hood Tragedy"
No one thinks "political correctness" obligates the Army to treat Muslims more leniently than anyone else. But it's just as simple-minded to think they deserve to be treated worse.
Steve Chapman
Despite being well aware of Hasan's disturbing views and conduct, the Army did nothing.

Far less offensive speech has been grounds for discipline or even removal from duties in the military.
Ann Coulter
The al-Qaida leader likes nothing better than to portray the United States as waging a crusade against Muslims. We would be doing ourselves no favor to confirm the accusation.
Steve Chapman
So, now any dyspeptic expression toward a Muslim is grounds for calling in a diversity coordinator. And when the "victim" attacks, as at Fort Hood, the rest of us are supposed to feel guilty because Hasan's car got keyed once.
This isn't perhaps a fair comparison. Anns main point, as it always is, is that Liberals are evil monsters. The Anti-Muslim stuff isn't her main point, but tangential. Still, it is nice to see that Townhall supports a diversity of views.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Ongoing Threat of Islam

As predicted we are seeing an uptick of articles on how we should all be afraid of Muslims. Austin Hill's latest article is particularly problematic. He references the Ft. Hood incident and another incident in which a Muslim Father ran over his daughter because she was living a sinful lifestyle.
Generally speaking, American non-Muslim fathers don’t run over their children with their cars and call it “honorable.” And American non-Muslim military personnel don’t intentionally kill their fellow soldiers. There is a pattern of very dangerous, deadly behavior with Muslims in America and around the world.

Americans must awaken to this reality, whether or not our President does.
Generally speaking, Muslims don't run over their daughters either. I mean Hill cites one incident, but that's not really a pattern, is it? Certainly I can cite some pretty awful things Christian Fathers have done to their children; would Hill then see that as proof the we need to awaken to a reality about Christians? Probably not.

Friday, November 06, 2009

I-Pod Ten - Morrissey

I have 169 Morrissey Songs. Here are 10 of them.
1. Now My Heart is Full (Vauxhill and I)
2. He Cried (Maladjusted)
3. Trouble Loves Me (Maladjusted)
4. On The Streets I Ran (Ringleader of the Tormentors)
5. The National Front Disco (Your Arsenal)
6. Certain People I Know (Your Arsenal)
7. The World is Full Of Crashing Bores (You Are the Quarry)
8. We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful (Your Arsenal)
9. How Could Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel? (You Are the Quarry)
10. Wide to Recieve (Maladjusted)
A somewhat turgid mix.

The Muslim Menace

Obviously, given the events at Fort Hood, we can expect quite a strong of Muslim Menace articles over the next few days. At this point, let me note that I use the term Muslim Menace ironically, not seriously. It is to refer back to the Red Menace articles of the Red Scare.

At any rate Roger Chapin over at Townhallis a bit ahead of the curve in his latest article, calling for an enormous and unworkable plan to deal with radical Islam. Among other things we should end self rule in Afghanistan as it clearly hasn't worked. We should shut down all Madrasses. We should destroy Iran's Nuclear facilities and remove their leaders. We should threaten Saudi Arabia until they shut down their nuclear facilities. We should also destroy North Korea's nuclear facilities (easier said than done I would think). If we don't do this we are doomed.
If we citizens don’t very soon wake up and demand our incredibly blind, misguided and inept leadership decisively acts to rescue our nation from the abyss, nothing else we do will matter. America, the doomsday clock is ticking.
So there you go. I will only point out that this incredibly expensive and risky plan is unlikely to get the Islamic world on our side. Rather it seems more likely to create more enemies, while stretching our resources far past the breaking point.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

I-Pod Ten - Pet Shop Boys

I have 322 Pet Shop Boys tracks. Here are 10 of them.
1. In Private (Stuart Chrichton Club Mix)
2. Bet She's Not Your Girlfriend
3. Jealousy (Extended Version)
4. Left to My Own Devices (Seven Inch Mix)
5. Hey Headmaster
6. So Hard (Single)
7. Psychological (Alter Ego Remix)
8. Yesterday, When I Was Mad (Jam & Spoon Mix)
9. I Made My Excuses and Left
10. We all Feel Better in the Dark (Brothers in Rhythm Mix)
A lot from Fundamental and Fundamentelism (the remix cd attached to Fundamental). And then number 10 was goign to be In Private, the album version, again. So I dropped it, and went to the next track, which was a particularly long and boring remix, so I skipped that as well, and went to We all Feel Better in the Dark which is a nice track.

A Good Article from Townhall

When I saw the title of Steve Chapman's latest article, "America Only Seems Polarized," I had certain expectations. This is, after all, Townhall. I anticipated Chapman explaining that Liberals are only a minor annoyance in reality and truthfully the country is very Conservative. We aren't polarized, we're conservative.

Well I was wrong. He takes a more realistic tack on the subject.
The average American citizen, contrary to myth, is neither very angry, nor very far to the left or the right, nor inclined to treat anyone with different opinions as a mortal enemy. In a cluttered media environment, the most extreme voices tend to attract so much attention that it's easy to forget something important: Most people aren't listening.
Makes sense to me.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

News from the Past October 29, 1929

Two from the Denton Record Chronicle, although both of these stories cover lands far north of Denton Texas.
NOME, Alaska—Coyotes, virtually unknown in Alaska until 1915, have migrated northward in such numbers as to threaten extinction of deer in some sections.
Poor Coyotes must get mighty cold in the winter.
Rocky Mountain
Region Is Covered
By General Snow

DENVER, Colo.. Oct. 29.— Winter paid a real visit to the Rocky Mountain region last night, leaving a general snow from Montana to New Mexico. Parts of Montana, Wyoming,Colorado and New Mexico reported snow up to five inches.
Air mail transportation on the transcontinental line was paralyzed when mountains between Salt Lake City and Cheyenne were blotted out by fog and snow. Air mail was sent by train through the region. Highways were reported open and passable though some in Wyoming were drifted.
Childish I know, but this one made me think of a bad Saturday morning villain named General Snow. That's pretty cold for early in the season, though.

I-Pod Ten - Bob Dylan and Moby

I have 184 Bob Dylan songs. Here are 10 of them.
1. Desolation Row
2. Ballad in Plain D
3. John Wesley Harding
4. A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall
5. Ballad of a Thin Man (Live)
6. Maggie's Farm
7. Barbara Allen
8. All Along the Watchtower
9. Bob Dylan's 115th Dream
10. Like a Rolling Stone (Live)
Both of the live songs are from the "Royal Albert Hall" performance, and in fact contain the famous Judas call. Barbara Allen is from the Gaslight Tapes.

I have 174 Moby Songs, here are 10 of them.
1. Dream About Me
2. The Sky is Broken
3. Lift Me Up
4. I'm In Love (The Shapeshifters Maximal Remix)
5. In My Heart (new mix)
6. The Rafters
7. Natural Blues
8. Alice (General Midi Mix)
9. In This World
10. Afterlife
That's not a bad mix. They Sky is Broken, Natural Blues, Lift Me Up, and Alice are pretty tight songs. But Moby has never really equaled Play, and at this point I don't really expect him too.

Who Want's Yesterday's Papers?

Reading around Townhall today, on the election. Some of these articles were written yesterday. Larry Kudlow seemed to think that Hoffman was a shoe-in to win New Yorks 23rd District (he in fact lost to the Democrat). Michael Medved on the other hand has written an article urging conservatives to vote for Republicans.

It is very much a plea to the base not to go looking at third parties or at staying home.
GOP victories, in off year elections like those on Tuesday, and especially in the fateful Congressional elections of 2010, can save the country from Obama’s most radical and destructive schemes.
Well nice to see. I think, though, that both Republicans and Democrats are fidgety going into 2010. Conservatives are feeling strong and are not going to want to compromise on a less than conservative candidate. Liberals are feeling let down by Obama and are going to want to see real progress on issues they care about before 2010. Still a lot can happen between then and now.

I-Pod Ten - the Cure

I have 393 Cure songs on my I-Pod. Here are 10 of them.
1. Lulluby
2. World in my Eyes
3. Adonis (B-Side to the 13th)
4. Purple Haze (Virgin Radio Version)
5. Sinking (Live)
6. Freakshow
7. Never Enough (Live)
8. The Only One
9. The Perfect Girl (Studio Demo)(Instrumental)
10. Numb
That's a pretty good list. I like the other version of Purple Haze a lot more (this one sounds like a straight cover, and isn't as good). Freakshow and The Only One are the first two singles from the latest album. Both are pretty good.

Personal Responsibility

Conservatoids like to pretend that liberals are opposed to personal responsibility. Take Ben Shapiro's latest article.
Here is how the free market works: open competition among sellers, informed bidding among buyers. Sellers are responsible for competing; buyers are responsible for informing themselves. When the government pledges to increase competition or keep buyers informed, the market is no longer free.
He argues that Wall Street types were happy taking bad investment vehicles because they assumed that the government would take care of them. You know like how people don't bother preventing fires because we have Fireman. "Why shouldn't I smoke in bed? If my bedsheets catch on fire, Dennis O'Leary will be in here like a flash to put me out."

At any rate, I personally am keen on personal responsibility, but am not keen on letting the crooks and frauds off the hook by blaming their victims.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Interesting but Badly Formatted Article by Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas attempts to declare health care unconstitutional in his latest article, using the 10th amendment to suggest that the states and the people have the power in this case, not the Congress. Kind of a slippery argument.

Roe vs. Wade, a decision he presumably disagrees with, stated that the privacy between a doctor and his/her patient should be kept safe from Federal manipulation. If a woman wanted to have an abortion that is between her and her doctor and no one else. Healthcare reform, of almost any stripe, will be more intrusive than anti-abortion laws. Or at least that is the theory. So if the Court said the state can't get between a patient and a doctor in regards to abortion, maybe the state can't get between a patient and his or her medical bill.

Like I say a slippery article, and it kind of depends on Thomas and other conservatives accepting the logic behind Roe v. Wade, which presumably they don't accept.
Americans who believe their government should not be a giant ATM, dispensing money and benefits to people who have not earned them, and who want their country returned to its founding principles, must now exercise that power before it is taken from them. The Tenth Amendment is one place to begin. The streets are another. It worked for the Left.
It worked for the left in regards to civil rights; hard to see where else it worked.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Does President think Americans are Good People?

Well, not according to Austin Hill's latest article.
. . . can anyone – even Barack Obama’s most ardent supporters – honestly say that our current President believes that Americans are, in a general sense, “good people,” and worthy of defense? Both his words and actions would suggest that America might someday become good, but only if he can first bring us to justice.
And he goes on in this vein. Obama speaking respectfully to the Muslim World, his desire to regulate American Industry, all show that he doesn't love America, doesn't much want to protect her, and is, in fact, inclined to judge and punish her. And us.

This isn't a rare view on the right. I find myself wondering what the implications of a large group of Americans who believe the President doesn't like America and wants to ruin it is. Particularly if they believe that he isn't a legitimate President.

A Generation of Sociopaths

Gosh that doesn't sound good does it? Fortunately it's the name to a lazy half-assed article by Mike S. Adams. In it he references Glenn Beck to agree with him (and to tie into a conservative commentator who is somewhat more famous than Adams himself). Apparently the current generation is pretty bad.
When we replace belief in objective truth with moral relativism we are telling people they are the one true source of morality. And that leads them to believe they are all, in a sense, little gods and goddesses who should not be told what to do. Pretty soon we are spending all of our time dealing with little sociopaths who believe they are the center of the universe.
Yep. And if that's not bad enough for you, here's further proof of our moral decline. Some students use cellphones in class. Horrors. And to make matters even worse, some of them have rap ring tones.

I'm not joking, Mike S. Adams holds these up as examples of our intense moral decay. As well as students using laptops and showing up late for class. And it's all liberalisms fault.
Liberal professors complain constantly about student conduct. And it seems funny that very few of them understand that they are simply experiencing the real-world consequences of their own liberal ideas.
Yep - because before liberalism college age kids weren't self centered.

I find myself fascinated by the concept that without a believe in objective truth, we automatically get sassmouth and sociopaths. So what is the objective truth that Beck and Adams wish us to believe in? I've noticed that Muslim students are generally well behaved; is that a good "objective truth?" Or what is the "objective truth" that we should all believe in?

Of course saying so long as you believe in an objective truth, whether that be the Koran, the Bible, the Talmud, or the Book of Mormon, that's good enough, is kind of like saying that objective truth is subjective.

Friday, October 30, 2009

News from the Past - October 28, 2009

File this under promising title, not as interesting an article. This is from the Daily Courier out of Connelsville PA.

Rally day at the Christian Church yesterday resulted in attendance 287persons at the Bible School. In order that the work may still be carried on the pastor ot tho church, Rev. K. N. Duty, has styled November loyalty month anrl tho Lilblc school campaign will go along, with the ultlnuite goal every member of the church a member of the Bible School.
There Is also In progress a drive to have 200 porsons at Prayer-meeting by Thanksgiving.
On November 15, at the church, there will be a dinner for till members
of tho church, to be served by women, at which building up the various departments will be stressed.
Loyalty in this case apparently means willingness to attend Sunday School. Which I guess is nice. But I was hoping it had something to do with fighting communists.

News from the Past - October 27, 1929

Apparently I did October 26 twice - need to change the headings on that. This one is from The Sandusky Register, Sandusky Ohio. Also of note, this was the 7th anniversary of the Fascist takeover of Italy, which this story obliquely references.

MILAN, Italy, Oct. 26 (IP)—Observers of the mammoth reception, given Crown Prince Humbert today on his return from Brussels noted two facts as significant.
The prince for the first time answered the acclamations of the crowd from the balcony of the Royal Palace with a salute in the Fascist fashion of outstretched arm.
The other was that Podesta Marquis DeCapitanl concluded this short address of welcome with the shout "Long live imperial Italy." It was said this was the first time that the word imperial had been used in official utterances.
Well, I'm sure it's nothing to worry about.

News from the Past - October 26, 1929 (bonus beats)

This is from the Jefferson City Post-Tribune, Jefferson City, Missouri. Among the other articles were a note that the "The University Is Literally Starved to Death Declares a Survey Board Member." I doubt that is literally true. But here's a touching story of why you shouldn't spank hostesses.
COST THAW $79,000

NEW YORK, Oct. 26 - (UP) - A jury has decided that Harry K. Thaw must pay $79,000 damages for administering what probably is the world's most expensive spanking.
The verdict was brought In late yesterday after the jury on the first ballot, decided that Marcia Estardus, night club hostess, was entitled to that sum for injuries she suffered when Thaw spanked her with a hair brush on New Years Day, 1927.
I kind of wonder what happened to Marcia Estardus. And how brutally do you have to spank someone to rack up $79,000 in damages.

News from the Past - October 26, 1929

And here we go - to the Olean Times, out of Olean New York. Lots of interesting headlines here.

End Is Near
Is Belief Of

Kahn Is Treasurer
Republican Senatorial
Campaign Committee
I wonder if Republican Treasurer Kahn is particularly wrathful. At any rate let's go with a story about Albert Einstein, still living in Germany.
Einstein Talks About
Claims Of Dr. Miller

Berlin, Oct. 28. (INS)—Prof. Albert Einstein. world famous scientist, today termed claims by Dr. Dayton O. Miller of Cleveland that he had discovered the drift of the ether surround tho earth resulting from "antiquated experiments."
"Miller's experiments arc antiquated," said Prof. Einstein. "They have been contradicted by later and exactor experiments of several other scientists. Professor Millikan of Pasadena. Cal. can furnish the details."
I love that tag. I could refute your claims of ether but I'll leave that to Prof. Millikan. That's what I like about Einstein - he's not a hog. He's willing to share the science around.

On the other hand, maybe he thought dealing with theories of ether was beneath him.

News from the Past - October 25, 1929

I am going to do several of these, catching up to the 30th by the end of the day. My initial goal was to show how things would progress up to the fateful date of October 29th. But fate intervened. Anyway this first story comes from a Trade Union Paper, the Ceder Rabids Tribune. I assume it's a trade union paper as all the stories seem to revolve around unions.

CHICAGO. Oct. 24,—(ILNS)—Circumstances surrounding the slugging and maiming of eight members of the international Ladies Garment Workers union while they were engaged in carrying on the organizing work recently inaugurated by the Chicago joint board of that union, indicate that the communists are working with and being paid by the non-union manufacturers in the dress, suit and cloak industry.
Shortly following the opening of drive to unionize large non-union dress manufacturing plants here the Communists opened an office near the headquarters of the joint board and began the distribution of scurrilous literature attacking the Joint board, the international union, the A. F. of L and the legitimate labor movement in general. These attacks, contained in circulars printed in both English and Yiddish were handed out at the entrances of shops which the union was attempting to organize.
Outraged at these unethical traitorous tactics, the union representatives protested to the Communists, and a fracas followed, which apparently was just what the Communists had hoped for. No sooner had the melee started than up drove several machines loaded with sluggers, who, fifty strong, jumped out and waded into the trade unionists with black-jacks, gun butts and knives.
Eight union members went to the hospitals and six of the thugs went to jail
Officers of the joint board say that none of those who participated in the attack have ever worked at the dressmaking trade.
Kind of interesting to me. My Masters Thesis was on the Communist Party in this period, and I would generally say that this is, in fact, possible. Yes the Communists were staunchly pro-union, but they also had the attitude that many of the unions were in fact on the pay of the bosses and were not really serving the interests of the working man. That said this account does seem a bit extreme. A communist party having 50 thugs ready to spring into action does seem a bit extreme.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Net Neutrality

Sorry very busy today but wanted to point you to this article by Stephan Grant - about halfway down he provides a very good summary of the issues around Net Neutrality. This is an issue that will effect you.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Common Areas

John Stossel's latest article is interesting. In it he argues against big government and in favor of local control. Fair enough he's a conservative. But the specific issue is that of the "commons." He seems to champion those areas that are shared in common, referring to the work of economist and noble prize winner Elinor Ostrom.
There is also an "opportunity of the commons." While most politicians conclude that, depending on the resource, efficient management requires either privatization or government ownership, Ostrom finds examples of a third way: "self-organizing forms of collective action," as she put it in an interview a few years ago.
What Stossel leaves out, naturally enough, is the threat to the Commons from Capitalism. Big businesses and private owners have in many cases acquired the commons for themselves, and used their power over the commons to extract a profit for themselves. Other big businesses have fouled the commons (say rivers and lakes) in order to save themselves the costs of preventing pollution. It's comforting for Conservatoids to pretend that government threatens the commons, but the truth is that it's businesses that usually covet those areas.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Your Weekly Rush; The Truth Doesn't Matter

For those who don't know, Rush Limbaugh on Friday spent a lot of time with a fabricated quote, supposedly from President Obama's Senior Thesis. After a bit it was revealed that the quote was fabricated, and Rush admitted it.
So I shout from the mountaintops: "It was satire!" But we know he thinks it. Good comedy, to be comedy, must contain an element of truth, and we know how he feels about distribution of wealth. He's mad at the courts for not going far enough on it. So we stand by the fabricated quote because we know Obama thinks it anyway. That's how it works in the media today.
Interesting response. On the one hand it seems like he believes that the quote was an accurate description of Obama's mindset. On the other he seems to be taking the Media to task for doing exactly what he just did?

My guess is that, in his mind, it's wrong to impugn conservatives with made up quotes but ok to impugn liberals with made up quotes.

Faith and Irrationality

Dennis Prager's latest article isn't that original. It's an old idea, expressed by both Liberals and Republicans about their political enemies, pretty regularly.
How is one to rationally explain the Democrats' belief that the government taking over another one-sixth of the American economy is a good thing?

The answer is religion.

Given the huge economic failures that the left itself attributes to Medicare and Medicaid and given the economic collapse or near collapse of these systems in other countries, the left's prescriptions can only be explained in one way: The left has made its views a form of religion.
Obviously Prager feels so strongly about his position on Healthcare, he cannot conceive of how anybody could disagree with that position. For example he's not apparently aware that many nations do have functioning health care systems. Nor is he aware of how much more our health care system costs compared to others (or he's studiously ignoring that data). In his mind there is no rational reason to support liberal health care reform - the religion explanation is more charitable than some of the others (like insanity or corruption).

The rest of his article is setting up some strawman arguments for us liberals and then knocking them down and pointing out that anybody who believes that must be illogical, and therefore motivated by mindless dogma.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Getting Humble

Carol Platt Liebau's latest article is directed, indirectly, at the base. It explains to them the facts of life; they are out of power now, and if they want to get back in power they need to pull together.

You shouldn't really say that directly to the base. It's a downer message. "You guys can support us and put your ideals on hold or you can not support us and watch Obama and his minions remake America." If you say that directly, the base might not go for it. They might go third party ("The lesser of two evils is still evil") or they might stay home ("Once America sees how bad liberalism is they will elect real conservatives instead of those losers we got in office now").

So Liebau says it indirectly, as a message to both the party and the tea-partiers. The message to elected Republicans and the RNCC is to support Conservatives in areas where conservatives can win (She singles out Charlie Crist as someone Republicans shouldn't be supporting). And then she addresses the Tea Partiers.
On the other hand, Tea Partiers need to be realistic, and understand the limitations of political passion and zeal. Plenty of congressional districts wouldn’t support even a second Ronald Reagan, simply because they are irremediably liberal. Rather than allowing the “best” to become the enemy of the “good enough,” activists could best further their cause by supporting the most conservative candidate who can win, rather than the most conservative candidate, period – when it means that candidate will surely lose.

Those who oppose such a course are prone to claim that insufficiently conservative Republicans are the functional equivalent of Democrats. But they are wrong, for one fundamental reason. Compared to the status quo, every Republican – of whatever stripe – who heads to Washington next year will ultimately empower the most fiscally-responsible wing of the party.
We'll see if the base listens to her, but I doubt it. Not yet. They still have plenty of conservative commentators telling them, again and again, that Americans largely agree with their point of view. All you need is the right conservative message and the Democrats/Liberals will be heading for the hills.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize

Well, as you all know, Obama is going to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. For the record, I believe this was premature. It really seems like he is getting the prize for not being George W. Bush, and that's not a good enough reason for getting the prize. And yes there are other candidates, such as Morgan Tsvangirai, Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. I hope President Obama earns the Nobel Peace Prize but, in my opinion, he hasn't yet.

Of course Conservatives have a somewhat different take. Or, they agree with me that he hasn't earned it yet, but they don't agree with me that he can earn it down the road. Kevin McCullough's latest article basically argues that he should return it. And why should Obama return it? Basically because he's a bad president and a bad human being. And that's most of his argument.

Oh and Obama would look humble instead of looking like a braggart. But McCullough confuses being Presidential with being a braggart so you have to take that with a grain of salt.

Friday, October 09, 2009

More on Gender Nuetrality

I wrote about this the other day but think this is a particularly telling example of what I was talking about. The first is the King James Version (according to Conservapedia, at any rate) and the second is the translation, and the third line is commentary explaining the change.
And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit;

But a man from the crowd ran forward and said, "Lord, I've brought you my son, who has a demon of dumbness."

Even the KJV had some gender-neutral verbiage
Yeah. I guess I'd feel a bit better if this person pretended that the actual translation were man, claimed to know Greek or something. But instead, it seems like he changed it simply because clearly a woman of that age, particularly a devout one, would never have the temerity to address our Lord and Savior? Edited to add - in fairness the parable does specify that it is his father later on in the text. Still seems like an odd thing to get worked up about.

Wonder what this guy is going to do about the relationship with Mary and Martha.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Back to the Conservative Bible

They are making fairly regular revisions on the Conservative Bible; it's an ongoing project. Last night I was reading the opening of Mark and noticed that they had shifted the term Pharisee to Elites or Intellectuals (I don't recall which, I'm afraid). Today that has changed again, which was pointed out at Salon's War Room.

Take the following example from Mark 3:1-2.
And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.

And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.

Jesus returned to the synagogue, and noticed man with a crippled hand.

The Liberals watched Jesus to see if they might catch and accuse him of healing on the Sabbath.
Honestly I expect that calmer heads will prevail, and the Pharisees will go back to being the elites or the intellectuals. Hopefully they will also add in an "a" in verse one between noticed and man.

Edited to add: Well calmer heads prevailed pretty quickly - it is back to being Pharisee, on the grounds that in this context, it's not a metaphor. It refers to an actual group from the time of Christ.

Is Liberal Christian an Oxymoron?

I, of course, say no. Many conservatives would say yes.

There seems to be a continuum from people who accept that Liberal Christians are just Christians who look at politics differently to those who think that Liberal Christians might be sincere, but are sincerely wrong. Consider a post at Southern Appeal on the arguments that Liberals sometimes make that Jesus is a Liberal politically. He takes this argument apart (and in fairness it's not an argument I agree with either, for reasons I'll come back to). However, he then explains why Liberals make such a false argument.
The Christian left can rationalize all they want, but the fact of the matter is social issues are much more black and white, and Church teachings on matters such as abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage and other issues are absolute and unchanging. Left-wing Catholics and other Christians either ignore clear teachings on these matters or give aid and comfort to those who do. Therefore I think that when it comes to economic issues, they are driven by a need to prove their Christian bona fides by asserting that they are the good stewards on economic matters. It’s always rather sad when guilty consciences try to over-compensate for their shortcomings in other areas. But no one should be fooled by what’s really happening here.
And there it is. Liberals ignore Christs teachings in order to cling to their political beliefs.

So you have a continuum.
  • Some Christian Conservatives believe that Christian Liberals are just Christians who think different.
  • Some Christian Conservatives believe that Christian Liberals are sincere but wrong.
  • Some Christian Conservatives believe that Christian Liberals are hypocrites, pretending to Christianity for political or social gain.
  • Some Christian Conservatives believe that Christian Liberals are fifth columnists for satanic liberalism, trying to weaken and emasculate the Church.
It's hard to deny that there aren't Conservative Christians in all of those categories, nor is it hard to see the Conservative Bible as fitting into one of those categories. The pertinent question is which direction are Conservative Christians moving. Are they moving towards that last option? Or are they moving towards the first? Or are they largely static?

Certainly the latter two options have many vocal proponents, including such people as Rush Limbaugh and Doug Giles.

Going back to why I think the argument that Jesus is a Liberals has flaws, it's, in my opinion, using the Bible to answer questions the Bible cannot be intended to answer. The Bible teaches one how to live and how to draw closer to God (kind of the same thing). It is not intended as a text on biology, physics, history, economics, or politics. And when you try to use it as a text to answer political questions, well, the Bible isn't quite up to the task of definitively answering them.

In part I suspect this is because God wants us to work it out on our own, to a certain extent. And in part I suspect it's because living well as individuals and drawing closer to God is is more important than the legalities of taxation or even abortion. A woman deciding whether or not to have an abortion is probably of greater interest to God than whether or not a Congress or a Judge makes abortion legal or not. I could be wrong about that, but that's my opinion.

Conservative Criticism of the Conservative Bible Project

Having spent a day curious about the project itself, I am now curious about how it is being regarded in the blog-o-sphere (which as you know is the correct way to spell blog-o-sphere. Your dictator demands it). Bill Barnwell over at the American Spectator, a Conservative site, has taken it apart and found it wanting.
Regardless of the authenticity of this passage, the theme of grace and forgiveness is found throughout the New Testament. This includes loving one’s enemies (Matthew 5:43-48) and being graceful towards people who have made clear mistakes (Matthew 21:23-27). Does this make the Bible and Christ Himself "liberal"? Should these passages also be viewed suspiciously by good Bible-believing conservatives? Time will tell, since the Gospel of Matthew has not yet been re-translated on the Conservative Bible page.

Authors of the Conservative Bible want also declare they want to eliminate other "liberal" words like "government" and replace them with "more accurate substitutes." While a staple of modern conservative and libertarian thought is a belief in limited or minimal government, it is quite novel to want to purge the word itself from one's vocabulary, or from Scripture itself.
The article is worth reading; Barnwell notes that people from across the political spectrum try to use Jesus Christ as a spokesman but his actual life and sayings contain enough to annoy both sides. Which is true.

Back to the Bible

Briefly, at any rate. Slactivist (who does the very good review of the Left Behind books) has taken note of this project as well, and has some thoughts on it.
It may be a bit surprising that the folks at Conservapedia are so enthusiastically transparent about the project -- that they have so few qualms about editing, redacting and altering their alleged scripture so that it no longer condemns their ideology and their idol. But it's not surprising that they've come to this point.

This point is on the line and following that line leads, inescapably, to this point. It was unavoidable.

So I want to take a closer look at this project. It's ridiculous and extreme and brazenly blasphemous and colossally illiterate, but this is the future of the religious right. This is what's next. Don't think of it as a point further out along an ideological spectrum, think of it as a point further along in the inevitable chronology of American evangelicalism.
Now it does strike me that Slactivist takes it a little further than I would think this warranted. However, I have to admit he's part of that community, and I am not. So perhaps he is right.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A Non-Biblical Post

But don't worry, I'm sure I'll be returning to the Conservative Bible eventually. This morning's post comes from an article by Walter E. Williams, who has served as a fill-in host for Rush Limbaugh.
Today's leftists, socialists and progressives would bristle at the suggestion that their agenda differs little from Nazism. However, there's little or no distinction between Nazism and socialism. Even the word Nazi is short for National Socialist German Workers Party. The origins of the unspeakable horrors of Nazism, Stalinism and Maoism did not begin in the '20s, '30s and '40s. Those horrors were simply the end result of long evolution of ideas leading to consolidation of power in central government in the quest for "social justice." It was decent but misguided earlier generations of Germans, like many of today's Americans, who would have cringed at the thought of genocide, who built the Trojan horse for Hitler to take over.
There's an old brainteaser - what if you had a time machine and could back in time to kill Hitler as a boy. Would you do it? Well thanks to Williams, no need for a time machine. We liberals are working to build a Nazi/Stalinist/Maoist state right now. And it's up to you conservatives to stop us. Presumably by peaceful means, if possible.

I should point out that this is very simplistic bad history as well; but I've done that a few times in the past. Suffice it to say that declaring all of the monsters of history Liberal is very satisfying (somewhat like declaring the Bible conservative) but does not make historical sense.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Emasculation of Christianity

I suspect I can spend a lot of time looking over this Conservative Translation of the Bible. I should note that I first heard about this from Salon's War Room, in which they proposed their own suggestions for Conservative Translations. They are amusing, I suppose, but kind of over the top. The actual work itself is pretty ripe though.

In particular they are keen (or at least one of the translators is) on making sure that all references to men are not changed to the more modern and gender neutral term of everybody or people or what not. From the translation of Mark;
avoid feminist style of seeking gender neutrality by replacing "man" with "one";

. . . avoid feminist change of "men" to "people"

. . . Keep "man" to avoid emasculating Christianity.
That second quotation is from the commentary on Mark 5:20. Let's look at the two possible interpretations - the original and then the conservative.
And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.

So the man left and told many in Decapolis about Jesus's great works for him, to the amazement of all men.
Presumably at one point it was "to the amazement of all people." and the appropriate correction was made. It seems odd because this is an example where men is specifically being used to mean people - it's an archaic way of saying everybody (much like "Hold thy Peace" is apparently an archaic way of saying "Shut up"). And they seem to want to get rid of archaic translations. But not this time apparently.

For some reason it's important to underline that "men" are who were amazed, not "people." And that reason is that "men" are more important than "people." Or so it seems to me.

Kind of an interesting insight into the minds of Conservative Christians. Because of course accepting women as the equal to men (which using people instead of men would do) is apparently emasculating Christianity. If men are not dominant then they are emasculated.

Maybe I should look up what it means to emasculate.
1. to castrate.
2. to deprive of strength or vigor; weaken.
Well that doesn't sound good.

Translation Example

From the Conservative Bible Project, this is Mark 1:25 in the original (according to Conservapedia) "And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him." And this is the proposed revision "Jesus then rebuked the evil spirit, "Shut up and depart from him.""

I do seem to recall many Sunday School teachers who wouldn't have cottoned to the idea of Jesus saying Shut Up. At least they didn't like it when I said Shut Up; maybe they would have been OK with Jesus saying it.

This Reads like Parody, but as Near as I can Tell It's Not

Over at Conservopedia they have started a project to provide a Conservative Translation of the Bible. Or, to be more precise, an accurate translation that removes liberal bias from the translation, restoring it to it's true conservative text. On the notes page, MarkGall explains.
It is important to understand that the retranslation is in no way a new translation based on a political agenda. It is rather a new translation whose primary aim is precisely to remove the influence that political agendas have had on previous translations, and to update certain passages to use new vocabulary that more effectively captures their meaning.
In a sense I don't have a problem with this - they rightly point out there certainly have been previous translations of the Bible with various axes to grind. So why shouldn't they get in on the act? No real reason.

In another sense, however, it is problematic because one of their stated aims is to remove or modify those scriptures that give comfort to Liberal Christians.
Socialistic terminology permeates English translations of the Bible, without justification. This improperly encourages the "social justice" movement among Christians.

For example, the conservative word "volunteer" is mentioned only once in the ESV, yet the socialistic word "comrade" is used three times, "laborer(s)" is used 13 times, "labored" 15 times, and "fellow" (as in "fellow worker") is used 55 times.
Also apparently it's unlikely that Jesus said "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing."

I think this goes back to what I was talking about earlier - moving into an era when Liberals and Conservatives no longer speak the same language. Fortunately this particular project I see as being more of a niche thing; I don't see mainstream churches embracing it wholesale.

Back from the Dead

Been away for a few days.

Over the weekend I saw a van with a collection of Conservative Bumper Stickers. Most were about how Obama is a socialist or a Communist, but right in the middle was one that said "Annoy a Liberal, Be Happy."

I've seen variations on that one that make a little more sense. "Annoy a Liberal, Succeed" for example, is total crap, but you can see where they are coming from. They feel that liberals put up a lot of barriers to success and that we champion societies losers, hence we must be anti-success.

But anti happiness? What sort of human being would be annoyed at seeing a happy person? Well he'd have to be somewhat of a monster wouldn't he?

I mention this because a perusal of the articles at Townhall leads me to the conclusion that I should have taken another day off. Most of them are about Roman Polanski, unsurprisingly arguing that his raping a 13 year old proves that Liberals are morally depraved (Cal Thomas throws David Letterman into the mix, arguing that we should probably get rid of our televisions).

But the one that really gets me is John Hawkin's latest, in which he gives advice to Republican lawmakers. It just reveals that the liberal and conservative world views are diverging more and more, and probably will eventually get to the point that meaningful discussion across the divide will be impossible.
One of the biggest differences between the Democrats and the GOP is that the Dems have worked to legitimize their base.
You see as a member of that base, this statement makes no sense. Democrats don't legitimize their base, particularly not their activist base. If anything they run against us. Clinton and to a lesser extent Obama both ran against the crazies in their party. And look at how the Healthcare debate is going - Single Payer, a big favorite among the Activist Base, was dropped immediately. The Government Option a somewhat weaker position has also seemingly fallen by the wayside. What does that leave us with?

In fairness, this has less to do with politics and more to do with the power of the Insurance Lobby over both parties.

Hawkins also feels that Conservative bloggers aren't being given enough money. Probably true; Conservative donors tend to be, well, conservative. They are spreading the money in traditional ways. He ignores, of course, the power of Conservative Think Tanks in shaping political discourse, as it doesn't fit his metaphor. It's not that Conservatives haven't spent money; they have. They've almost certainly outspent Liberals, George Soros notwithstanding. They just aren't as keen on spending it on new-fangled technologies like the internet.

Hawkins hold up Joe Wilson's yelling of Liar at the President as an example of what Conservative Lawmakers should be doing. Speaking truth to power, I suppose.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Wishful Thinking

Thank god for Wishful Thinking. I mean it's just so damned useful. Take for example David Limbaugh's latest article.
The signature of Obama's (uppercase "D") Democrats is their systematic betrayal of (small "d") democratic principles. Just look at today's news for a flavor of their pattern of flagrantly ignoring the popular will to cram down our throats policies we clearly reject.
See the wishful thinking there? Limbaugh wants to believe that the American people have clearly rejected the Public Option, and frankly any health care reform of any type. That's not true. Even after lambasting it for weeks, there are still significant numbers of Americans who support the creation of a Public Option, particularly when it's explained to them exactly what it is. But of course Limbaugh doesn't want to live in an America that is flirting with "socialized" medicine.

Thanks to wishful thinking he doesn't have to.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Muslim Menace

Haven't gotten to write on Muslim Menace articles in a while, but here comes reliable old Cal Thomas with a particularly illogical one.
If you are an enemy of America seeking her destruction, you would add to your pursuit of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons the undermining of this nation from within. You would do this largely through deception, putting on a peaceful face while subtly plotting ways to bring America down.

That tactic was on display last Friday in Washington as a crowd estimated at 3,000 Muslims gathered to pray. The organizer of the rally, Imam Abdul Malik of Brooklyn, N.Y., told Americans what we like to hear: "What we've done today, you couldn't do in any Muslim country. If you prayed on the palace lawn there, they'd lock you up."

As reported by The Washington Times Sadara Shaw, a resident of Washington, D.C., was quoted as saying "It's a show of solidarity to show all Muslims are not terrorists but law-abiding citizens." That is probably true, but irrelevant since it takes only a small number of terrorists to cause havoc.
So dumbass Cal Thomas believes that Muslims are putting on a peaceful face while subtly plotting, but at the same time he believes that most of them are law-abiding citizens. Odd. I guess his theory is that since plotting isn't technically against the law, they can be law-abiding plotters?

The article is a pure Muslim Menace one.
Try a little experiment, Google "Islam near" and then type in the name of any city or town. When I tried the small town of Bryn Mawr, Pa., 10 Islamic-related sites came up. In larger cities, there are as many, or more.
Oh my gosh. There are Islamic people right here in my home town. They must be subtly plotting to bring America down. Let's get them!

Unless of course they are law-abiding citizens. Should we be beating up law abiding Muslims? I don't know. I'm so confused.