Sunday, January 17, 2010

Predestination -- and a small reflection on the Calvinist culture into which I was born

"It was meant to be". "It was all planned out before we were born". Such statements are the essence of Calvinism. And I think that they are still common in at least some Christian circles. In the English-speaking world, the home of such doctrines is the Presbyterian Church -- in its various incarnations. But very few modern-day Presbyterian churches still preach it from the pulpit.

Yet it has a good foundation in scripture. See Ephesians chapter 1, for instance. And because of that foundation a very theological version of the doctrine even appears in the famous 16th century 39 "Articles of Religion" of the Church of England. There was a time when the Church of England respected scripture -- and you had to assent to the 39 articles to be an Anglican priest, in fact. These days the only faith that most of the Anglican clergy seem to have is in homosexuality and global warming.

Despite its venerable historical and scriptural roots, however, it seems to me that predestination is still not generally a well-articulated doctrine. It is more an instinct than anything else.

I was born into a family that was not at all religious but was still somehow Presbyterian. I was sent to Presbyterian Sunday School as a kid and still have the fondest memories of that time even though I have been an atheist for all of my adult life. Yet my mother and my aunties would all from time to time come out with the statements with which I have introduced this post. What is not now preached from the pulpit still survives among the people. And the lady in my life -- Anne -- who also has a Presbyterian background but is no more religious than my mother and my aunties -- also comes out with such utterances to this day.

And Islam seems to have a very similar doctrine.

So I think that we should respect religious feelings even if a searching examination of them reveals large logical difficulties. Feelings are important. Anne does not in fact appear to believe in God. Yet she believes in a planner and a purposer. I have no difficulties with that -- even though I personally do not remotely share such beliefs.

Religion is much more a matter of feeling than anything else and I am delighted that I myself once shared such feelings. People who attack religion are in my view incompletely human. I don't in fact think that a true atheist feels any need to attack religion. Crusading atheists like Dawkins seem to me to be very religious themselves. They too are feelings-driven.

And while I am about it, I want to pay tribute to the immense power of the New Testament faith. Virtually all present Christian churches stray extensively from that faith -- as my commentary on the NT sets out in great detail -- but even that fragment of the original faith that Christians generally possess has survived, flourished and conquered for 2,000 years. And I have every confidence that there is at least another 2,00 years of life in it yet. Forget church doctrine and pagan preconceptions. Just read the NT and soak in it. It probably still has the power to transform you if you let it. It has certainly been the biggest single influence on my life.

A small addendum to that: There is one large diocese of the Church of England that does still hew closely to the scriptures: The Sydney diocese of the Anglican church of Australia. And their theological seminary -- Moore college -- is overflowing with around 300 young people (male and female) studying the faith. By contrast the local Roman Catholic seminary has about six students. Getting close to the NT is the key to power in Christian faith.


Chatting with Sarah

by Bill O'Reilly

The phenomenon known as Sarah Palin made her debut this week as an analyst on Fox News. You should have heard the braying from our competitors CNN and MSNBC. She's a dunce, they wailed, a conservative shill! Foaming at the mouth doesn't begin to describe the reaction. Here's my question: If you guys are so smart, how come your ratings are softer than Jell-O?

Palin appeared on my program and began by knocking President Obama around a bit on health care and terrorism, standard-issue right-wing stuff. But then I asked her about charges on "60 Minutes" that her frame of reference is so weak, she doesn't even understand why there are two Koreas. Palin just shook her head and said the man who made the charge, author John Heilemann, is a liberal who simply is not telling the truth. So there.

Whatever your opinion of her, you have to admit the bashing of Palin is almost unprecedented in the media. Newspaper critics and uber-liberal TV commentators are the worst. Reviewing my interview with the former governor in The New York Times, Kate Zernike wrote: "After marveling that '60 Minutes' spent eight minutes on Ms. Palin on Sunday night, Mr. O'Reilly spent about 20 with her."

Well, yeah. She's a brand-new FNC analyst and was the lead guest on my program. The “60 Minutes” story was about a book featuring dozens of politicians. Palin, however, got most of the airtime, and it was all negative. And that's the point. If you hammer Palin, the Times will have no beef. But give her a forum in which she can respond to her detractors, and watch out.

David Zurawik, television critic for The Baltimore Sun, makes that point better than I ever could. Reviewing the Palin chat, Zurawik said: "In a protected TV environment like the one Fox and O'Reilly skillfully provided for her Tuesday night, I think (Palin) could be a red-hot ratings winner. And the country and our political conversation are going to be the poorer for it. "I can only imagine what kind of power these two might come to wield in the elections of 2010."

Aha! Never mind that I asked Palin about the perception that her intellect is not up to presidential standards, Zurawik and his soul brothers and sisters on the left are very worried about the fact that Palin now has a place to state her case. A very well-watched place.

That presents a clear and present danger to the liberal ideologues masquerading as press people. No longer can they mock Palin with impunity. Now she can mock them back, big time, and perhaps convince open-minded folks that her message is worthy, and that she is not a reincarnation of Georgette on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Simply put, Palin has a big opportunity to balance the playing field. Boy, do her critics hate that.



Phony Fruits in the Obama White House Garden

by Michelle Malkin

Hold on to your hoe. It turns out that the fruits and veggies used in a special edition of the popular Food Network TV show “Iron Chef America” featuring first lady Michelle Obama did not, in fact, come from the White House garden. Could there be a more deliciously fitting symbol of Obama White House fakery than Garden-Gate?

Some may shrug at this tempest in a colander. But as we approach the one-year anniversary of the Hope and Change inauguration, the first lady’s little horticultural hoax serves as a handy metaphor for a cornucopia of Obama fraud. They’ve stocked health care town halls with partisan goons and benefactors. They’ve provided lab coats to doctor donors to make their health care lobbying look more authentic. And they’ve treated soldiers, in President Obama’s own words, as “pretty good photo ops.”

Ringers are what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

East Wing apologists are whirling like KitchenAid salad spinners over the Iron Chef-fuffle: "Due to the production delay between the shoot at the White House and the shoot at Food Network, the produce used in Kitchen Stadium during the 'Super Chef Battle' was not actually from the White House garden," admitted a Food Network spokeswoman. But, they stress, the replacement produce consisted of the exact same types of sweet potatoes, tomatillos, broccoli and fennel purportedly picked from the White House garden.

It’s the haute cuisine version of disgraced CBS News fabricator Dan Rather’s fake-but-accurate card. But this is just the latest Potemkin produce from a Potemkin presidency.

To wit: White House number-crunchers and Democratic fuzzy mathematicians have been cooking the books on stimulus jobs numbers and government health care takeover costs. They desperately ditched the “jobs saved or created” recipe for a jobs-funded concoction to salvage the illusion of economic recovery. They’ve inflated deficit reduction estimates and downplayed doctor reimbursement cuts. And they’ve done so behind a locked kitchen door.

Candidate Obama whipped up a nutritious package of transparency pledges that has fallen flatter than a one-egg souffle. Open government, he told us, was good for Washington and good for America -- and the president promised to give us heaping doses of it on C-SPAN. But not a camera was in sight for the past week’s backroom health care negotiations among the White House, Democratic leaders and left-wing special interests.

Now, President Obama is poised to deliver juicy tax exemptions for unions while squeezing middle-class taxpayers, employers, investors and drugmakers to subsidize expanded government health care.

The liberal press became unhinged when former President George W. Bush posed with an artificial turkey on a surprise Thanksgiving trip to Baghdad in 2003. But on Thursday, when Obama served up a fake populist turkey of a $90 billion bank tax -- dubbed the “financial crisis responsibility fee” -- much of the press corps dutifully chewed and swallowed. Feigning outrage at the very financial sector that loaded his campaign coffers and provided him with crony Treasury appointees, Obama demanded “our money” back.

But the tax will not apply to the Enron-rivaling financial black holes of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (it would “not be productive,” says a White House filled with Fannie- and Freddie-enriched advisers). Or to the bailed-out auto companies. Or to the bevy of non-banks that have soaked up taxpayer bailout money. Gobble, gobble, gobble.

Nor will any of the incompetent or complicit financial regulators who practiced self-admittedly “inadequate” oversight before the meltdown and during the government bailout structuring be fined or penalized. (We’re looking at you, Tim Geithner).

With Year Two of the Obama administration barely under way, even its most loyal subjects are beginning to realize that Hope and Change were phony fruits. He promised new politics. We got the same old crony capitalism. He promised public accountability. We got the back of the hand. How ya like them rotten apples now?



Obama Rewards Losers, Punishes Winners

President Obama's misbegotten bank tax is precisely the wrong policy at precisely the wrong time. It will wind up backfiring across the board. Why? Because bank consumers and borrowers are the ones who will wind up paying this tax, creating an obstacle to economic recovery.

Obama is actually rewarding losers and punishing winners -- exactly the reverse of free-market capitalism. Who's being rewarded? Obama's bank-tax penalty is being used to finance the failed government takeovers of GM, GMAC, and Fannie and Freddie. And let's not forget the $75 billion failure of the so-called foreclosure loan-modification program. To this day, no one knows where that money went. But the big banks are going to be forced to finance this through a tax that will damage lending, stockholders and consumers.

This is sheer political favoritism. Crony capitalism at its worst, with a sub-theme of bailing out Obama's Big Labor political allies. It's just like his bailout of the unions by exempting them from the so-called Cadillac insurance tax until 2018, all while the rest of us may have to suffer under that tax.

Speaking of political unfairness and favoritism, mortgage giants Fannie and Freddie will not pay a nickel of this tax. These government-sponsored enterprises were at the very center of the financial maelstrom, financing the government's quotas and targets for unaffordable mortgages. Think about this for a second. President Obama is out there bashing away at excessive bonuses. And yet Fannie and Freddie's CEOs stand to make $6 million in the next year or two. Huh? These are big-government-owned bureaucrats. They ought to be paid like GS-18s.

Of course, the Federal Reserve, which is having its most profitable year ever, was probably the main culprit in all this, with its negative-real-interest-rate easy-money policy, which amounted to throwing red meat to a pack of sharks in the deepest waters. But this tax punishes and penalizes the biggest banks -- institutions that have already met their obligations by paying down TARP, with interest, and by providing taxpayers with a tidy profit on the stock warrants they held.

Now, this is not to condone the major mistakes made by the big banks. They were overleveraged, borrowed way too much and sold highly flawed mortgage bonds and other complex derivatives. And the banks should not be paying big bonuses for 2009 -- not for the period during which they were TARPed. That's their biggest mistake.

With the banks having paid down TARP, however, the U.S. government should not be waging war against them. Somebody ought to tell the White House that al-Qaida is the real enemy, not the banks.

At the same time, taxing the living hell out of the banks will not promote economic recovery and long-term prosperity.

More here


BrookesNews Update

Things are not looking up for the US economy : Obama's borrowing and spending binge point to an eventual rise in long term interest rates severe enough that if it did not kill off investment it would severely curb it. Sustained economic recovery means capital accumulation. Obama's policies are anti-growth, whether he knows it or not. His green jobs policy is a prime example of gross economic illiteracy and amounts to nothing but a 21st century version of pyramid building that will do as much for the American economy as did the building of the Palace of Versailles for the French economy
Why Bernanke needs to change course to save the US economy : The main source of the current crisis is the Fed's own policies. Once the Fed lowers interest rates and pumps money into the economy, it enables the formation of various false activities, and sets in motion an economic boom. A reversal of the loose stance strangles non-productive activities and sets in motion an economic bust
Doyle is screwing the Liberal Party on green policies : Once again the Liberal Party reveals its total incompetence in dealing with green nonsense and economic fallacies. Robert Doyle proposes destructive green policies and Liberal politicians and their advisors are unable to figure out what's wrong with them
Another interventionist fallacy: unemployment, labour costs and the value-added fallacy : Interventionists and all manner of would-be central planners are utterly clueless about how businesses are run and how markets operate. This ignorance makes these meddlers particularly dangerous to our standard of living
Castro's Cuba: Terror sponsor : "Castro has protested being placed on the U.S. list of terror-prone nations slated for extra airport screening. This is the same murderous thug who built terrorist-training camps, sponsored individual terrorists like Carlos the Jackal, and who in 1962 plotted to blow up New York's subways with 500 tons of TNT under Bloomingdale's, Gimbel's and Macy's on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The plot was foiled by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. The same thug also attempted to blow up a Miami-area nuclear plant in 1983. No wonder the Hollywood left love him
Fidel Castro: Hollywood screenwriter : Well whaddyaknow, it turns out that the Soderbergh/del Toro biopic Che was basically written by Castro's The Cuban Film Institute with Castro having the final say on the script. What a pair of lying leftwing Hollywood creeps. They couldn't wait to grovel to the sadistic Castro while praising the equally sadistic but inept Che. Hollywood has been turned into a leftwing cesspool by the likes of the America-hating Soderbergh and stone
The Crucifixion of Brit Hume : When Brit Hume declared his faith in Christ the American left immediately went into an indescribably vile frenzy. Christians should be happy because it revealed the left's hypocrisy, its shocking intolerance of anyone disagrees with it and its pathological hatred of Christians. It also revealed that the left is the real threat to Americans' liberties
Obama: America's gift to terrorists : For al Qaeda and other terrorists across the globe, Obama is the gift that just keeps on giving. The fanatical Muslim terrorists who are intent on wiping out every man woman and child that doesn't accept Allah as God was just handed another victory by the President of the United States
Leaving the US - why and why not? : After the Bolsheviks took over Russia, many who lived there before were able to compare life before and after the Communist take-over. It became readily apparent that they had gone from the proverbial frying pan into the fire. Subsequent generations, having nothing to compare, had no idea what life could be under some other kind of government and simply accepted the regime as a way of life. Is this what will happen in the United States?


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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