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.