Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sheriffs standing with the people against the Feds

I have reported earlier that sheriffs in New Mexico are threatening to arrest federal agents if they attempt to enforce unconstitutional federal acts in contravention of state law.

The even better news is that sheriffs in other states are doing the same. Sheriff Brad Rogers of Elkhart County, Indiana has told Food and Drug Administration agents they will be arrested if they go on Amish farmer David Hochstetler’s land. Having falsely alleged that raw, unpasteurized milk sold by Hochstetler had caused several cases of food poisoning, the FDA filed a complaint in federal court to support their attack on the farmer.

I have consumed raw milk for years and can affirm that it is not only safe, but much healthier than pasteurized milk.

The threat of incarceration led the feds to withdraw their complaint against Hochstetler. This was even after US Department of Justice attorney Ross Goldstein emailed the Sheriff that he would be arrested if he protected Hochstetler. When Sheriff Rogers refused to back down, the FDA cried uncle.

Rogers’s communication to the feds seemed to have been quite convincing: “Any further attempts to inspect this farm without a warrant signed by a local judge, based on probable cause, will result in Federal inspectors’ removal or arrest for trespassing by my officers or I.” The feds have gotten used to acting without due process — in this case, that means not bothering to get a search warrant.

Rogers’ campaign website listed his number one objective as “Upholding the Constitution.” He is also concerned about the heart condition of his inmates and is determined to help “Provide Hope to Change a Heart.” Under that header he says, “The Elkhart County jail has 74 church services a month and allows unprecedented access to ministry volunteers. Not only can we impact inmates for the here and now, but for eternity.”

Sheriff Rogers requires his deputies to take three, two-day classes on the Constitution (at a tuition rate of $125 per person).

Rogers is not alone in his love for the Constitution. Ellis County, Texas Sheriff Johnny Brown has stated that he would resist any effort by the federal government to confiscate firearms in his county.

Sheriff Joe Baca in Sierra County, California told his county commission that he will not enforce road closures on Bureau of Land Management and Gila National Forest Lands.

Sheriff Gil Gilbertson of Josephine County, Oregon has told the Forest Service that he will protect those using the forest in his county. He has written a short treatise entitled, “Unraveling Federal Jurisdiction within a State.” It is actually a scholarly piece based on citations from the Constitution, court cases and statutes and concludes that the Forest Service has no authority in any county.

Siskiyou County, California Sheriff Jon Lopey has said: “I have told federal and state officials over and over that, yes, we want to preserve the environment, but you care more about the fish, frogs, trees and birds than you do about the human race. When will you start to balance your decisions to the needs of the people?…We are right now in a fight for our survival.” Lopey spearheaded a coalition of eight sheriffs calling themselves: “Defend Rural America.”

In the days after Hurricane Katrina, power was out for days. Food and medicine were about to be lost. So Sheriff Billy McGee of Forrest County, Mississippi — a Democrat — took action when he realized that a federal shipment of six trucks of ice bound for Hattiesburg turned out to be only four. McGee went in search of the other two and found them being guarded by some Army reservists who possessed bureaucratic mindsets.

McGee took steps to secure the ice, but was told he was not authorized to take the vehicles. When a reservist would not get off one of the trucks, McGee had him handcuffed. The ice was delivered where it was needed in Hattiesburg, explaining why McGee is also known as The Ice Man.

Not surprisingly, the feds have brought suit against the Sheriff in federal court. Perhaps McGee will arrest any marshals seeking to interfere with the duties of a peace officer.

It is encouraging that men of integrity, who understand that the sheriff is the top law enforcement officer in his county, have been elected in counties around the country. We should be looking for more who fit this description.



Important Victory for Religious Liberty in Washington State

I’m pleased to report that a federal district court in Washington state today delivered an important victory for religious liberty. As I outlined in several posts some weeks ago, Washington state regulations violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment by compelling pharmacies and pharmacists to dispense the abortifacient drug Plan B, notwithstanding their religiously informed conscientious convictions not to participate in the destruction of the life of an unborn human being.

In its opinion today, the federal district court correctly ruled that the regulations do violate plaintiffs’ Free Exercise rights. Specifically, the court determined that the regulations are not neutral for purposes of deference under Employment Division v. Smith. Rather, they “are riddled with exemptions for secular conduct, but contain no such exemptions for identical religiously-motivated conduct” and thus amount to an “impermissible religious gerrymander.” Likewise, the regulations are not “generally applicable” but rather “have been selectively enforced, in two ways”: First, the rule that pharmacies timely deliver all lawful medications has been enforced only against the plaintiff pharmacy and only for failure to deliver plan B. Second, the rules haven’t been enforced against the state’s numerous Catholic-affiliated pharmacies, which also refuse to stock or dispense Plan B.

For each of these reasons, the regulations are therefore subject to strict scrutiny, which they can’t survive.

The court also found that the state regulations were “aimed at Plan B and conscientious objectors from their inception.” Indeed, “the predominant purpose of the rule was to stamp out the right to refuse.”

Congratulations to the Becket Fund and to the Seattle law firm of Ellis, Li & McKinstry on their important victory.

Just a couple of additional observations:

1. The argument that the HHS mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is far simpler to grasp than today’s sound ruling is. In part that’s because, in the case of the HHS mandate (a federal action subject to RFRA), there’s no need to reach the Free Exercise issue, including the threshold question whether the mandate is a neutral and generally applicable law for purposes of deference under Employment Division v. Smith (it’s not). In part that’s because it’s so immediately obvious that the HHS mandate flunks the “least restrictive means” test.

Before today, I already regarded the position that the HHS mandate violates RFRA as a slam-dunk winner, as a 9-0 ruling in the event that the issue ever reaches the Supreme Court. (It probably won’t reach the Court, as it’s highly unlikely that any court of appeals will get this one wrong.)

2. Some might be inclined to discredit today’s ruling on the ground that the judge who issued it, Judge Ronald B. Leighton, was appointed by President George W. Bush and therefore might be thought to have, and to have indulged, social-conservative biases. That’s an extremely improbable hypothesis. Set aside the fact that Leighton had to pass the scrutiny of Washington’s Democratic senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, ever to get nominated. More telling is that Leighton, “in a sometimes emotional ruling from the bench,” ruled in September 2010 that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law could not constitutionally be applied to a lesbian who had been discharged from the military and ordered her reinstated.



American Majority Dependent on Government: How Dangerous is it?

In an effort to bolster the political fortunes of President Obama, the media panjandrums have been cheerleading about the improvements in the American economy. Recovery appears to be building, notes the New York Times. The GDP growth is now projected at 3.5 percent, a tonic for the sleepy start of the fiscal year. The unemployment rate has declined, notwithstanding those who no longer seek employment.

The lights are synchronized in green for Obama’s reelection, or that is the growing sentiment. But there is an argument, far more telling than present statistical improvement, which must be made. The policies of Obama’s last four years have moved the nation down the road of serfdom. Give away programs have tied free individuals to the shackles of the state.

As of 2011, almost 45 million Americans are on foodstamps, approximately one in seven people. In New York City 1.8 million citizens collect foodstamps, one in four. Forty-seven percent of Americans do not pay a personal income tax and most of these people receive subventions from the government. Thirty-six percent of Americans who file tax forms do not a pay personal income tax. The number of those in a condition of poverty increased 9.5 percent since 2009, with a total of 43.6 million.Again, almost all of these individuals receive government assistance of one kind or another.

My contention isn’t merely that we spend more than we can afford—an obvious and well treated concern. I would assert that despite positive signs in the economic picture, we are nearing the “tipping point,” a transformative moment when a majority of Americans are dependent on government largess. This is the path Americans have been on for some time, but it has been accelerated by the policies of the Obama administration.

Thomas Jefferson once noted, “a government that can give you everything you want can take everything you have.” Frédéric Bastiat echoed this sentiment when he wrote “Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else,” and Voltaire captured this concern with his claim, “In general the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.” It is not surprising that in taking from Peter to give to Paul, Paul doesn’t complain.

This isn’t merely the essence of class warfare, it is the entrapment of leviathan. Former President Bill Clinton said “the age of big government is over.” By any standard this comment is absurd. Big government is alive, well, and growing. There isn’t the slightest sign it can or will abate until a crisis arises.

Moreover, it is difficult to envision what happens at that point since depending on one’s calculation, the majority is already feeding from the public trough. Will a majority vote to reduce its benefits? Will a president about to be reelected on the basis of public give-aways tell the truth about economic conditions?

This presidential campaign offers a unique opportunity to tell the truth about what ails us. But the Republicans are afraid of “Third Rail” repercussions if they bring up unfunded liabilities in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. And the Democrats want to create the illusion they are the compassionate party, eager to assist the poor and downtrodden, a stereotype that is inconsistent with Big Labor support and the endorsement of the Plaintiffs Bar.

As a consequence, the truth is buried and the Hayakian scenario of the Road to Serfdom is ominously palpable. Perhaps it is time for both parties to accept Edmund Burke’s admonition that “No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” My hope is that this campaign is the beginning of a “little,” to reverse the emerging tipping point in the American economy.



Higher tax rate REDUCES revenue in Britain

The amount of income tax paid fell sharply last month in the first formal indication that the new 50p higher rate is not raising the expected amount of revenue.

The Treasury received £10.35 billion in income tax payments from those paying by self-assessment last month, a drop of £509 million compared with January 2011. Most other taxes produced higher revenues over the same period.

Senior sources said that the first official figures indicated that there had been “manoeuvring” by well-off Britons to avoid the new higher rate. The figures will add to pressure on the Coalition to drop the levy amid fears it is forcing entrepreneurs to relocate abroad. [Many businesses have already done so]

The self-assessment returns from January, when most income tax is paid by the better-off, have been eagerly awaited by the Treasury and government ministers as they provide the first evidence of the success, or failure, of the 50p rate. It is the first year following the introduction of the 50p rate which had been expected to boost tax revenues from self-assessment by more than £1billion.

Although the official statistics do not disclose how much money was paid at the 50p rate of tax, the figures indicate that it is falling short of the money the levy was expected to raise.

A Treasury source said the relatively poor revenues from self-assessment returns was partly down to highly-paid individuals arranging their affairs to avoid paying the 50p rate.




Federal court: DOMA unconstitutional: "Another federal judge has found unconstitutional a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law which forbids providing federal government benefits to same-sex spouses. U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White, who sits in San Francisco and was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, issued the ruling Wednesday afternoon in a case involving federal judicial law clerk Karen Golinski's request for benefits for her female spouse."

Wife of Assassinated Iranian Scientist: Annihilation of Israel was his ultimate goal: "The wife of Martyr Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan Behdast, who was assassinated by Mossad agents in Tehran in January, reiterated on Tuesday that her husband sought the annihilation of the Zionist regime wholeheartedly. "Mostafa's ultimate goal was the annihilation of Israel," Fatemeh Bolouri Kashani told FNA on Tuesday. Bolouri Kashani also underlined that her spouse loved any resistance figure in his life who was willing to fight the Zionist regime and supported the rights of the oppressed Palestinian nation. Iran's 32-year-old Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan Behdast, a chemistry professor and a deputy director of commerce at Natanz uranium enrichment facility, was assassinated during the morning rush-hour in the capital early January. His driver was also killed"

Times Square Billboards: ‘Don’t Believe the Liberal Media!’: "The Media Research Center (MRC), a watchdog group that tracks liberal bias in the news, had two massive billboards erected in New York City’s Times Square on Tuesday. The billboards say “Don’t Believe the Liberal Media!” and they are expected to be viewed by 1.3 million onlookers over the next four weeks, according to the MRC. “There is no better location for this billboard than the liberal media’s own backyard,” said MRC President Brent Bozell in a statement."

DOJ harassment of Gibson guitars: "Last August, in a strange fit of regulatory scrupulousness, the Department of Justice swooped into Gibson Guitar factories in Memphis and Nashville, interrupting productivity with the claim that the musical instrument manufacturer might be using certain "illegal" imported woods. Six months later, however, the DOJ still hasn't filed charges -- surprise, surprise. "They...come in with weapons, they seized a half-million dollars worth of property, they shut our factory down, and they have not charged us with anything," says Gibson Guitars CEO Henry Juszkiewicz"



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Friday, February 24, 2012

Another lot of Obama soulmates getting the gravy

None dare call it corruption

Not content with making the health insurance industry unprofitable, through rules and regulations set out in enacting Obamacare, the Obama administration released the first eight grants/loans under the Consumer Oriented and Operated Plan (CO-OP) program.

The CO-OP program was established under the Obamacare law to put into place one federal government selected group in every state that is supposed to provide an insurance alternative to those few companies that remain after the imposition of the law.

The grants/loans have raised the political antenna of Bill Wilson, the President of Americans for Limited Government who said, “These grants/loans reek of political payola as one group, the Saul Alinsky-affiliated, Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative of Wisconsin was formed in August, 2011 just three short months prior to applying for the taxpayer money. In true, Rules for Radicals fashion, Obama’s administration found this group worthy of receiving $56,416,000 in taxpayer largesse.”

Common Ground is an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation, a group the radical Saul Alinsky founded, as reported by the Journal Sentinel in Milwaukee.

The provision of $56 million taxpayer funds by the federal government for health care organizing comes at a time when Wisconsin’s public employee unions are orchestrating a recall election of the Governor after failing in a retaliatory bid for power in the Senate last year. Wisconsin’s state government moved forward with changes in the state’s collective bargaining rules early in 2011 over the objections of the unions. Ironically, those changes have allowed the state to bring the budget into balance without having to lay off any public employees.

Wilson continued his analysis stating, “Only the most naïve would believe that this $56 million injection of money into the political charged atmosphere in Wisconsin is anything more than an attempt to buy votes in favor of the public employee recall election of Governor Scott Walker and to tip the balance in this important swing state in November.

“There are no lengths that Obama won’t go in his attempt to use Chicago-style politics to drive his election bid, and this $56 million to a group with no track record and dubious connections is just one more outrage,” Wilson concluded.

Shockingly, the rules governing the grants issued by Obama’s Health and Human Services Department projected that the CO-OPs would have a 35-40 percent default rate. With $3.4 billion budgeted for the program, the most conservative loss estimate is $1.19 billion, or twice the total cost to taxpayers of the Obama Energy Department funded Solyndra failure.

Other groups receiving grants are the Freelancers CO-OP of New Jersey, Freelancers CO-OP of Oregon, Freelancers Health Service Corporation (based in New York), New Mexico Health Connections, Montana Health Cooperative and Midwest Members Health (Iowa and Nebraska.)

According to Politico Pro, a private subscription news service, the CO-OPs have been termed government funded “venture capital for health care” by the executive director of the Freelancers Union Insurance programs. Ironically, the Freelancers programs have come under fire over the years for inefficient operations and a variety of difficulties regarding member coverage. The CO-Ops will be able to offer health plans starting on January 1, 2014.



If Economy's Improving, Why Is Dependency Growing?

The government is at full throttle to present the economy as improving especially in light of the upcoming election. At the same time, there has been a stunning rise in dependency as most recently presented by the Heritage Foundation.

Heritage defines dependency as significantly depending on the government for help in two of the following basic expense items: housing, food, shelter, income security or higher education.

At the end of 2007, Heritage conservatively estimates there were 59.4 million Americans significantly dependent on the government. By the end of 2010, this number had risen to 67.3 million, an increase of nearly 8 million. It is likely that another two or three million were added in 2011, for a net increase of 10 million to 11 million over the past four years.

It is not a coincidence that the number of people participating in the labor force has comparably declined over the same period.

At the end of 2007, participation in the labor force was 66% of the available working age population, with a labor force of 146.2 million. By the end of 2011, it was 64%, with a decrease of 5.4 million workers to 140.8 million. The official number of unemployed people rose from 7.7 million at the end of 2007 to 13.1 million at the end of 2011, without any accounting for those who were "too discouraged to look for work."

Nevertheless, as the government has included fewer and fewer people in the category of searching for work, the official unemployment rate continues to fall because both the numerator and the denominator used to make that calculation are losing equal amounts.

In fact, the January BLS report that was so joyfully received by the market showed an Unemployment Rate of 8.3% but a decrease in labor force participation to 63.7% because another 1.2 million people left the labor force.

How can we have falling unemployment and falling labor force participation at the same time? I heard a story a while ago about a woman who had been making $50,000 per year who was laid off. After some months of casually searching for a full time job, she was offered one paying $40,000, but she refused it.

Her logic was, I am getting $20,000 per year from unemployment benefits, and I am collecting $18,000 per year from baby-sitting off-the-books three days a week, which, after accounting for my lower taxes, works out to almost the same for less work.

Why should she work harder than necessary to pursue happiness? When 67.3 million other Americans are taking easy money from the government, why should she stand on ceremony? Where is the shame? Where is the stigma? Is she "too discouraged" or just selfish? My fear is that many people will look at her experience and say, how can I work only three days a week and collect the same money?

Certainly, the government is not going out of its way to stop this waste, particularly because her example, repeated over and over again, allows the government to point to a falling unemployment as proof that we are on the road to recovery.

The government imagines that as more people become dependent on it, the official unemployment numbers will look better, and our animal spirits and therefore the economy will revive.

But the corruption of the workforce is utterly corrosive to America in the long term. We are supposed to be the "land of the free, and the home of the brave." But we are drifting closer to the European attitude of "Sauve Qui Peut," or "Every man for himself."

We may have something that looks like a recovery between now and the election, but if it is based on people leaving the workforce to take benefits and work off the books, it will be a Potemkin recovery.



The USA is already in the same boat as Europe

With seemingly every day bringing more bad news from Europe, many are beginning to ask how much longer the United States has before our welfare state follows the European model into bankruptcy. The bad news is: It may already have.

This year, the fourth straight year that we borrowed more than $1 trillion to support the U.S. government, our budget deficit will top $1.3 trillion, 8.7 percent of our GDP. If you think that sounds bad, it’s because it is. In fact, only two European countries, Greece and Ireland, have larger budget deficits as a percentage of GDP. Things are only slightly better when you look at the size of our national debt, which now exceeds $15.3 trillion, 102 percent of GDP. Just four European countries have larger national debts than we do — Greece and Ireland again, plus Portugal and Italy. That means the U.S. government is actually less fiscally responsible than countries like France, Belgium, or Spain.

And as bad as things are right now, we are on an even worse course for the future. If one adds the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare to our official national debt, we really owe $72 trillion, by the Obama administration’s projections for future Medicare savings under Obamacare, and as much as $137 trillion if you use more realistic projections. Under the best-case scenario, then, this amounts to more than 480 percent of GDP. And, under more realistic projections, we owe an astounding 911 percent of GDP.

Meanwhile, counting both official debt and unfunded pension and health-care liabilities, the most indebted nation in Europe is Greece, which owes 875 percent of GDP. That’s right, the United States potentially owes more than Greece. France, the second most insolvent nation in Europe, owes just 549 percent of GDP. Even under the most optimistic scenario, we owe more than such fiscal basket cases as Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.

So far we have been able to avoid the consequences of our profligate ways because the very public turmoil in Europe has helped prop us up as the world’s safe haven for foreign investment. Compared to the euro’s problems, the dollar looks pretty safe. This means that others are still willing to lend us money at absurdly low rates. But that won’t last forever. In fact, already seven European countries, including Germany and Sweden, have better credit ratings than the U.S.

Perhaps we can take some solace in the fact that our welfare state is not yet as big as Europe’s. But the key word here is “yet.” Today, our federal government spends more than 24 percent of GDP. Throw in state and local spending, and government at all levels consumes over 43 percent of everything produced in this country over the course of a year. As bad as that is, it’s still less than Europe, where the average of government spending at all levels is slightly more than 50 percent of GDP. But the Congressional Budget Office projects that federal-government spending in this country is currently on a path to exceed 42 percent of GDP by 2050. Government spending at all levels will exceed 59 percent of GDP. And CBO assumes state and local spending will decline in the future, which seems unlikely.

By way of comparison, today, Ireland is the only country in Europe with a bigger government than the U.S.’s will be in 2050. That’s right, one can look at countries like France and Greece, or even Denmark and Sweden, and realize that we will eventually have bigger governments than those quintessential welfare states have today.

At that point does the United States cease being the United States as we have known it? At the very least, can our economy survive such a crushing burden of government spending, and its attendant level of taxes and debt?

Given this looming disaster, President Obama has just submitted a budget that explicitly rejects “austerity,” avoids any reform of Medicare or Social Security, and adds some $7 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years. And Republicans? They are busy debating the pros and cons of birth control. What is wrong with this picture?




White House economic team never believed ‘stimulus’ would work: "Former White House Council of Economic Advisors head Christina Romer apparently never thought the $800 billion “stimulus” that was supposed to turn the economy around would work, a new book shedding light on the early days of the Obama Administration says. A memo brought to light in “The Escape Artists” by Noam Scheiber shows Romer originally proposed a spending plan that totaled $1.8 trillion, but the figure was dismissed as politically infeasible by Larry Summers, Director of the White House Economic Council. Romer came back with a watered down proposal of $1.2 trillion, but that was left out of the final proposal brought before Barack Obama himself. Nonetheless, even though the final proposal was a full $1 trillion short of what she thought would work, Romer penned the political document that justified the $800 billion figure."

IAEA: Latest Iran talks a failure: "The UN nuclear agency has declared its latest inspection visit to Iran a failure, with the regime blocking access to a key site suspected of hosting covert nuclear weapon research and no agreement reached on how to resolve other unanswered questions. The statement from the International Atomic Energy Agency was issued shortly after an Iranian general warned of a pre-emptive strike against any nation that threatens Iran."

The third-party payment problem: "Taking out insurance (or paying taxes) so that some third-party pays when a big-ticket, catastrophic health expense comes your way is perfectly rational. But paying someone else to take responsibility for your predictable, routine, run-of-the-mill health costs is crazy. It introduces huge dead-weight administrative costs and seriously distorted incentives, and is one of the key drivers of out-of-control healthcare inflation."

Politicians fiddle while fiscal crisis looms: "Imagine this family budget: Last year, you earned $24,700. But you spent $37,900, incurring $13,300 in debt, and you were already $153,500 in debt. So you say, 'I promise I'll spend $300 less this year!' Anyone can see that your cutback is pathetic and that you need to spend much less. Yet if you add eight zeroes, that's America's budget."

IN: Lawmaker opposes Girl Scout honor: "An Indiana lawmaker won't support a resolution celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts because he believes it is a 'radicalized organization' that supports abortion and promotes homosexuality. Rep. Bob Morris of Fort Wayne has sent a letter to fellow Indiana House Republicans explaining why he opposes the nonbinding resolution."



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Thursday, February 23, 2012

The compulsive religion of Leftism trumps all other loyalties, even among many alleged Christians

Regular readers of Townhall may have noticed a column penned last week by this writer questioning the easy expectations of many observers that most liberal Catholics will abandon President Obama over the birth control mandates. Quite a number of commentators claimed that Obama achieved the impossible by uniting liberal and conservative Catholics into a united “tribe” hotly opposing the new HHS mandates. Some of the commentators claimed that this misstep would cost Obama the November elections.

The aforementioned column took issue with the easy assumption that left wing Catholics would rally to Mother Church and desert Obama, and suggested that most of those Catholics would vote Democratic in November, proving that social liberalism trumps religious orthodoxy nearly every time. Liberal clerics, however, placing social activism above theology and praising it as the highest possible virtue is certainly nothing new. It is, part of a continuum which has marked Anglo-American history for at least the last century-and-a-half.

The earliest strains of this tendency to replace traditional religious piety with the social reform impetus can be seen as far back as the mid-1820s with the spread of Unitarianism. The Unitarians preached a flexible and rationalist theology, and combined it with a low-key ritual, which attracted many upper class types, scientists, and intellectuals. In the words of Paul Johnson, the British historian, Unitarianism became for many intellectuals, “…a halfway house on the long road to agnosticism”.

This trend led, in the late nineteenth century, to the emergence of what became known as the “Social Gospel”. Theologians like Dwight Sunday and Mary Baker Eddy all sang from the social reform hymnbook. Washington Gladden coined the term “Social Gospel” by which he meant the churches promoting social reform, aiding the poor, and remaking the world for the supposed benefit of the ordinary citizen. Many of the Social Gospellers vigorously criticized the American economic system, saving particular scorn for competition and the profit motive, condemning them as wasteful and mercenary.

In point of fact, this movement and the entire habit of confusing theology with social reformism could be seen in much of Christendom by the early Twentieth Century. Efforts to use Christianity as a means to transform the social order could be seen in continental Europe where the development of “Christian Socialism” took an overtly political turn after 1910. In Britain high clerics including Archbishops of Canterbury Cosmo Lang and William Temple fully supported the idea of religious social activism. Lang often quoted the line credited to the American political humorist Finley Peter Dunne, stating that “…the purpose of religion is not to comfort the afflicted, it is to afflict the comfortable.” William Temple, for his own part, became the first avowed Socialist to head the Anglican Church.

The turn of American religious denomination away from theology and toward social activism continued apace throughout the Twentieth Century. The growing secularization of society, both in thought and action, led many traditional mainline Protestant Churches including the so-called “Seven Sisters” (United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church-USA, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Episcopal Church-USA, American Baptist Churches of the USA, Disciples of Christ) to blithely follow along by liberalizing and secularizing themselves. While these changes alienated some church members, the new secular emphasis fully engaged numerous clerics and considerable numbers of younger members of church congregations.

The Catholic Church fell prey to these same secularizing and liberalizing tendencies. The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) institutionalized many of the generally Social democratic ideas which had taken root in the church by the late 1940s and the propagation of such ideas proceeded apace, as formerly conservative Catholic religious orders, particularly the Jesuits, radicalized during the 1960s. By the early 1980s Catholic priests and the lay religious played a central role in the nuclear freeze movement, critiqued capitalism (and found it wanting) and adopted a permissive, even encouraging, attitude toward homosexual conduct, even among their own officially celibate membership.

Today the social activist strain among American Protestants can be seen in the sense that most denominations began ordaining women priests years ago. The Episcopals and the United Church of Christ have waged very public internal battles recently over the installation of openly Gay bishops. Finally, the African Methodist Episcopal Church serves as a bully pulpit for the lunatic Anti-American ranting of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

On the Catholic side, the radicalism of the 1980s has been tamed, to a certain extent. Still, among a sizable segment of lay Catholics and among some nuns and priests there exists open support for birth control and support for legalized abortion, although this is carefully qualified as “…only when medically necessary”. Catholic congregations regularly hear sermons supporting mildly socialist ideas, criticizing Republicans, and counseling “peace” even when confronted with the conclusive evidence of radical Islamic intent to wage war on Christianity and the USA.

The point of this column is not to impugn the integrity of the often dedicated and selfless people who comprise the Religious Left in America. These folks deserve commendation for the fact that, in an increasingly nihilistic world, they have values and they largely stick to them. The point, however, is to state that among the Religious Left, their leftism generally trumps their religiosity. Few of the Protestants who support women priests, Gay bishops, or the anti-American hysteria of the Reverend Wright will disown the Democratic Party in November. Likewise, one would be wise to refrain from betting that the pro-abortion, pro-birth control Catholics will permanently stray from their home in the Obama wing of the Democratic Party. They may be making a little noise right now, but they will return home this coming Fall.

In a world that now equates social work with piety, and rallies, demonstrations and “occupations” with theology, the activist side gets the upper hand. Among liberal Christians their liberal side usually takes the measure of their Christianity. This is a grim fact that those who predict a massive religious defection from Obama and the Democrats would do well to remember.



The 'Fairness' Fraud

Thomas Sowell

During a recent Fox News Channel debate about the Obama administration's tax policies, Democrat Bob Beckel raised the issue of "fairness."

He pointed out that a child born to a poor woman in the Bronx enters the world with far worse prospects than a child born to an affluent couple in Connecticut.

No one can deny that. The relevant question, however, is: How does allowing politicians to take more money in taxes from successful people, to squander in ways that will improve their own reelection prospects, make anything more "fair" for others?

Even if additional tax revenue all went to poor single mothers -- which it will not -- the multiple problems of children raised by poor single mothers would not be cured by throwing money at them. Indeed, the skyrocketing of unwed motherhood began when government welfare programs began throwing money at teenage girls who got pregnant.

Children born and raised without fathers are a major problem to society and to themselves. There is nothing "fair" about increasing the number of such children.

A more fundamental problem with the "fairness" issue raised by Beckel and many others is the slippery vagueness of the word "fair." To ask whether life is fair -- either here and now, or at any time or place around the world, over the past several thousand years -- is to ask a question whose answer is obvious. Life has seldom been within shouting distance of fair, in the sense of even approximately equal prospects of success.

Countries whose politicians have been able to squander ever larger amounts of a nation's resources have not only failed to make the world more fair, the concentration of more resources and power in these politicians' hands has led to results that were often counterproductive at best, and bloodily catastrophic at worst.

More fundamentally, the question whether life is fair is very different from the question whether a given society's rules are fair. Society's rules can be fair in the sense of using the same standards of rewards and punishments for everyone. But that barely scratches the surface of making prospects or outcomes the same.

People raised in different homes, neighborhoods and cultures are going to behave differently -- and those differences have consequences. The multiculturalist dogma may say that all cultures are equal, or equally deserving of respect, but treating cultures as sacrosanct freezes people into the circumstances into which they happened to be born, much like a caste system.

While talk about "fairness" may provide a fig leaf to cover politicians' naked attempts to grab more and more of the nation's resources to spend, there is no assurance that raising tax rates on "the rich" will result in any more tax revenue for the government. High tax rates have too often simply caused wealthy people to put their money into tax-free securities or to send it overseas.

Four years ago, TV interviewer Charles Gibson pointed out to candidate Barack Obama that raising capital gains tax rates had on a number of occasions led to less capital gains tax revenue being collected -- and, conversely, lowering the capital gains tax rates had on other occasions increased the amount of capital gains revenue collected by the government.

Obama readily admitted that. But he said that "fairness" justified a higher tax rate on "the rich." Yet how does a higher tax rate on paper, without a real increase in the amount of taxes actually collected, promote fairness?

However, raising tax rates on "the rich" pays off politically, even if the government loses revenues when the rich put their money into tax shelters.

High tax rates in the upper income brackets allow politicians to win votes with class warfare rhetoric, painting their opponents as defenders of the rich. Meanwhile, the same politicians can win donations from the rich by creating tax loopholes that can keep the rich from actually paying those higher tax rates -- or perhaps any taxes at all.

What is worse than class warfare is phony class warfare. Slippery talk about "fairness" is at the heart of this fraud by politicians seeking to squander more of the nation's resources.



Newest Government Magic Trick: Disability Fraud Holds Down Unemployment Rate

Looking for another reason for an artificially low unemployment rate? Consider disability fraud, people claiming disabilities they do not have such as mental illness. Prior to the great recession 33% of applicants claimed mental illness. The number is 43% now.

There was fraud before, of course. There is even more fraud now. Please consider: Jobless disability claims soar to record $200B as of January
Standing too many months on the unemployment line is driving Americans crazy — literally — and it’s costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.

With their unemployment-insurance checks running out, some of the country’s long-term jobless are scrambling to fill the gap by filing claims for mental illness and other disabilities with Social Security — a surge that hobbles taxpayers and making the employment rate look healthier than it should as these people drop out of the job statistics.

As of January, the federal government was mailing out disability checks to more than 10.5 million individuals, including 2 million to spouses and children of disabled workers, at a cost of record $200 billion a year, recent research from JPMorgan Chase shows.

The sputtering economy has fueled those ranks. Around 5.3 percent of the population between the ages of 25 and 64 is currently collecting federal disability payments, a jump from 4.5 percent since the economy slid into a recession.

Mental-illness claims, in particular, are surging. During the recent economic boom, only 33 percent of applicants were claiming mental illness, but that figure has jumped to 43 percent, says Rutledge, citing preliminary results from his latest research.

His research also shows a growing number of men, particularly older, former white-collar workers, instead of the typical blue-collar ones, are applying.

The big concern about the swelling ranks is that once people get on disability, they’re unlikely to give it up and go back to work.

What's the Number?

The above article says there were 10.5 million individuals receiving disability checks. A quick check of Fed data shows there are 27.5 million Civilian Noninstitutional Population - With a Disability, 16 years and over. Unfortunately the data only goes back to mid-2008. I would like to see the pattern before the recession began.

We can see a brief recovery for a year following the end of the recession. However, since mid-2010 the number of people with disabilities has risen by 1.5 million.

All of them dropped out of the labor force and are no longer counted as unemployed.




Is the Obama administration trying to expand federal collective bargaining?: "Expanded collective bargaining at any level of government would be bad news for taxpayers, as it is the mechanism government employee unions use to gain for themselves compensation and benefits -- and ironclad job security -- well beyond those prevalent in the private sector for similar work. This is a bad enough problem at the state and local level."

Voter ID laws are growing; so are challenges: "Thirty-one states have voter identification laws, including eight -- in Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin -- that were enacted or toughened last year. Of the 31 laws, 27 are expected to be in effect for the general election this year, says Meagan Dorsch, spokeswoman for the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), a bipartisan research group. One has been blocked by federal action; three have later effective dates."



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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A very weak recovery

It is not dissected below but it seems likely that most of the growth in employment we have seen is the product, directly or indirectly, of the boom in the oil and gas industry -- mainly due to innovations such as fracking. And those innovations made headway only because they sneaked up relatively fast -- so fast that Obama and his EPA did not have enough time to ban them

As the most widely reported rate of unemployment (U-3) has fallen in recent months, people with a political agenda served by painting a rosy picture of the recovery have made considerable noise about this decrease. Their political opponents have responded that one reason for the decline is that the labor force has fallen as more people have given up looking for work, some of them going into retirement sooner than they would have if the labor market had been more robust.

The best way to avoid the parsing and cherry-picking that plague such debates is to look not at unemployment, but at employment. After all, it’s employment that contributes to the production of goods and services and generates earnings for the job holders. Employment is less subject to interpretive ambiguity than unemployment is.

The most recently reported data on private nonfarm employment, for January 2012, show that employment has indeed continued its recovery. Since reaching its current-recession trough about two years ago, it has increased by about 3 million persons. Before starting a celebration, however, we should recognize that private nonfarm employment is still about 5 million persons less than it was at its pre-recession peak in 2008.

Moreover, such private employment is currently more than a million persons less than it was in December 2000, more than eleven years ago, on the eve of the dot-com bust. So, at this point, we have suffered more than the proverbial “lost decade” in the private labor market—the one in which employees are hired to produce goods and services that consumers and investors have demonstrated they actually value (or for which producers are convinced that such demand will be forthcoming).

To be sure, labor productivity has increased during this period, yet the likelihood is slight that sustained economic growth can take place in the future without long-term growth in private employment. A very large recession-related loss of private employment remains to be recouped, however, before we can even begin to think about the long-term growth of employment. The situation has improved somewhat in the past two years, no doubt, yet the labor market has a long way to go—it has about 5/8 of its recent loss to make up—merely to get back to its pre-recession peak.



Why “Progressives” and not “Liberals”?

Derek Hunter

I’ve been contacted by many readers asking why I use the word “progressive” instead of “liberal.” I figured I’d write a little bit about why this week…

The Change

Remember when Democrats used to call themselves liberals? Then conservatives showed the world what liberals really were, and no one wanted to call themselves that anymore.

Now, they call themselves progressives again – as they did in the early 20th century until their racist/fascist agenda was rejected and they went into hiding under the word liberal. (To you progressives outraged by this truth, read Jonah Goldberg’s masterful book Liberal Fascism and open your eyes to your eugenics-loving, racist roots.)

Their name has changed, but their objectives have not. They want an all-powerful federal government with the individual subjected to its will and whims.

Naturally, they support such a thing only when there is a progressive in charge and will scream bloody murder when a non-progressive dare exercise power of any sort. For an example of this, see the Bush years.

Remember the Bush years … when the president went to Congress and got approval for military action against Afghanistan and Iraq? Ever wonder, then, where the anti-war movement went, and why, after Obama’s surge in Afghanistan and bombing of Libya, there wasn’t a massive rally on the National Mall?

Did those fervent anti-war protesters suddenly decided to “give war a chance”? And where is former MSNBC staple Cindy Sheehan now? Or Code Pink? When was the last time you saw them on TV? We’re still at war; only nobody is protesting it anymore.

That’s because it never was about war. It was about damaging a political opponent. Their guy is running things now. And he’s in trouble.

After failing miserably to have any positive impact on the economy – and spending trillions to do it – the 2010 election happened and Republicans swept the House. The Tea Party exists, and it is spreading the word about the virtues of smaller government and warning about overspending. The only things that terrify progressives more than those ideas are black conservatives and women carrying babies until they’re born.

How Far Will They Go?

One thing progressives won’t do is allow anything, and I mean ANYTHING, to stand in the way of their agenda.

Be it the grandmother who loved and raised President Barack Obama after his degenerate mother abandoned him only to be reduced to a racist, a “typical white person” when it became politically advantageous to distract from Jeremiah Wright … or the entire feminist movement when Bill Clinton was charged with sexual harassment (and assault … and rape), nothing is sacred beyond the agenda.

Add to that list the Occupy Wall Street rape victims.

On Monday’s Countdown on Current TV, former MSNBC talking head Keith Olbermann and Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas joked about the numerous, documented charges of sexual assault and rape at various “Occupy Wall Street” encampments around the country, denying they’d happened. Twitter exploded with outrage.

There was a time when “the seriousness of the charge” was all that mattered when it came to sexual assault/harassment, but that was when conservatives (Clarence Thomas) were the ones being charged. Since progressives make their living through hypocrisy, that standard went out the window under President Clinton and was changed to “drag a $100 bill through a trailer park” and see what you get.

Soon after dismissing rape of “Occupiers” by other “Occupiers,” Olbermann replied to a tweet from Washington Times columnist Henry D’Andrea’s tweet demanding a retraction and apology with, “No Occupy rapes, no cover-up, no apology, no retraction, and credibility for your Moonie-owned “newspaper.”

Setting aside the unprovoked religious bigotry from the “tolerant” Olbermann, that’s a flat-out denial that there were any rapes of Occupy women. That’s Keith saying the many, many women who filed rape and/or sexual assault charges with the police are lying. Here’s the bus, Occupy ladies, get ready to slide under it.

Probably realizing he’d stepped in it, Olbermann, who holds the Orwellian title of “Chief News Officer” at Current, then went on to accuse Andrew Breitbart of concocting the charges. When presented with a detailed list of criminal activity at “Occupy” camps, Olbermann changed his tune again to, “Looking at the (Breitbart) ‘Occupy Assault List’ I notice VICTIMS were in Occupy, not the assailants. Why are you blaming the victims?”

This, of course, is a flat-out lie. Olbermann knows it, but he doesn’t care. Those women and men who were raped and/or sexually assaulted at “Occupy” camps, those victimized by “Occupiers” and those now, stand in the way of the progressive agenda. As such, they were told by Keith to shut up and “take one for the team.”

Olbermann than went on several Twitter tirades against Breitbart in the hope of distracting from his own stupidity. He knows the rules. He knows there’s a bus out there with his name on it should enough progressives decide he hurts the cause more than he helps it.

Breitbart has the truth on his side, but truth is of little use to Olbermann and his fellow progressives. And neither are rape victims.

Keith continues to obsess over Andrew Breitbart like he was Rebecca Lobo, desperate to avoid that bus. He’s willing to do whatever he must to avoid the fate he willfully imposed on those women who did nothing beyond showing up to a protest progressives told them was good and pure. This is how progressives work.

You Are Being Lied To

I’d call progressives’ history of lies and distortions fascist tactics and remind everyone of how progressives in this country loved and were fascists in the 1930s. But there’s no need (again, see Jonah’s book). Not because they’re not, but because we all know the sun rises in the east.

That paragraph would not have been necessary at all if we had an honest media and education system. We don’t because that famous “liberal bias” everyone knows and loves is, at its core, a progressive bias. (For the most complete takedown of how the Progressive Industrial Complex works, please watch this video. Then share it on Facebook, Twitter and everywhere you can. People need to be shown how lies are spread so they can learn to spot them.)

Progressives in education, the media, unions and politics always will walk in lockstep with each other, destroying any and all who stand in their way (even their own), until they reach their desired goal. It’s not that they’re incapable of learning the mistakes of history, they’re counting on them. What else explains the president’s rush to spend this country into Greece? A desire to save the people who’ve always wanted to see Greece but couldn’t afford the trip?

The political Left destroyed the greatness of Europe and it wants to take down the United States next.

If liberals are allowed to rebrand themselves as progressives, shedding the baggage and animosity “liberal” has so rightly earned, liberty is more threatened. I still use the word liberal every now and then. I use them interchangeably. They are, after all, the same thing. But people need to be aware of that. Polls have shown “liberal” is unpopular, but people don’t feel the same way toward “progressive.” That has to be changed.

Every time leftists, regardless of what they call themselves, are exposed for what they really are, Americans reject them. Sometimes slower than others, but always. That’s why Barack Obama ran on “Hope and Change,” not “I’ll waste trillions and break us while slipping payoffs to my donors, raping your liberty…” etc., etc.

People are busy. They don’t have time to follow politics the way those of us who make our living doing it can. Nor should they. If we had an honest media, no one would have to. If we had an honest education system, no one would have to. If we had an honest government that adhered to the Constitution… You get the idea.

So that’s just a small snippet of why I use the word “progressive” instead of “liberal.” And why I think it’s important that you start too.

Also, don’t forget progressives are not just of one political party. You can’t pick them out by the stench of Zuccotti Park emanating off them like stink-lines in a comic strip. In 2008, John McCain couldn’t tell the world enough that he was a progressive. His idiot daughter likes to do the same thing. It’s a philosophy, not a party.



How is the FDA Really Doing?

I read with interest—and mounting skepticism—Patricia Dimond’s Insight & Intelligence™ piece about FDA, “FDA New Drug Approvals in 2011 Outpace Recent Past,” on GEN’s website. Some of its assertions and assumptions lacked essential context and disclosures.

Consider, for example, the headline, “FDA New Drug Approvals in 2011 Outpace Recent Past.” Although it’s true that the FDA’s 35 approvals are better than the 21 last year, a single data point doesn’t a trend make, so it’s useful to look at approvals during recent five-year intervals. From 2007–2011, the FDA approved 123 new drugs; from 2002–2006, 129 drugs; and 1997–2001, 178 drugs.

With that historical context, maybe the concept of outpacing isn’t such a good choice for the headline.

Partly on the basis of the single 2011 data point and a flawed report by an advocacy and lobbying group called the Friends of Cancer Research, Dr. Dimond concludes that “FDA did a pretty good job despite the carping from the pharma industry, financial community, and some patient advocacy groups,” endorsing Friends of Cancer Research’s conclusion that there is a need “for strong financial and public support of the FDA.”

To evaluate the strength of this news/advocacy piece, it’s useful to examine the Friends of Cancer Research study, which was published last year in Health Affairs. It found that between 2003 and 2010 the FDA approved 32 new cancer drugs versus 26 by the European Medicines Agency.

The FDA supposedly both approved more cancer drugs and did so more quickly: FDA approval averaged 182 days, while the EMA averaged 350 days. According to Ellen Sigal, chairman and founder of Friends of Cancer Research, FDA’s regulatory delays and intransigence toward industry are nothing more than an urban legend.

The facts argue otherwise. The only urban legend in evidence appears to be the conclusions of the study itself. Several things are disturbing about the methodology and the possible sources of bias or conflict of interest on the part of the authors that were not mentioned either as a disclaimer in the article or in the media (including Dr. Dimond’s) coverage of it.

First, the timing and location (for example, Europe vs. the U.S.) of drug approvals depends in large part on where and when drug companies decide to submit their applications for approval, how aggressive they are, and whether the drug has been previously approved elsewhere.

The quest for approvals is not a race from the same starting gate. Of the 25 drugs in the study that were approved in both the U.S. and Europe, just two were submitted to European regulators first—one by a mere 11 days, the other by a single day. By contrast, most applications were submitted to the FDA several months or in some cases two or three years earlier.

Second, not a single media report mentioned that the FDA often uses various tricks to “stop the clock” or even delay the start of the clock by “refusing to file” an application for marketing approval that it has received. Thus, the agency’s “review times” often have little correlation to the calendar. The Health Affairs article itself cites as one of its methodological limitations that it accessed only “official review times.”

The results would have been more meaningful if the authors had reported the actual number of calendar days from the date of regulators’ initial receipt of the application until the date of approval. Moreover, the FDA’s user fee authority requires the agency to demonstrate that it meets strictly defined approval timelines, creating a potent incentive to “game” the official review times.




Health insurance vs. getting care: "When Washington came up with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it forgot one key component: The 'care' part. This spring, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments about the constitutionality of the law's individual mandate requiring people to be insured. The court will decide whether the government can compel people to become consumers against their will. While this is an important debate, what truly concerns those of us in the medical profession is how the healthcare reform act could ultimately leave you and your loved ones with insurance, but with no access to quality care. There is no doubt that healthcare is not affordable, but this misguided law will not result in better services."

Taxmageddon comes just after the election: "On December 31, shortly after the November election, tax rates will rise across the board in what congressional aides call 'Taxmageddon,' notes The Washington Post. Not only will the Bush tax cuts come to an end, but new taxes will kick in to pay for Obamacare’s rising costs."



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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

JOHN 8:58 does not necessarily mean what it seems

"Jesus said unto them, "truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am". (RSV).

This scripture is routinely compared to Exodus 3:14, where we read of Yahweh: "God said unto Moses, "I AM WHO I AM". And he said "Say this to the people of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you"". (RSV).

Just a few notes: The Exodus statement was made in response to a request from Moses for God to identify himself. And the reply (understandably?) "I am who I am" is simply impatient. I believe that I myself have at times said "I am who I am" in response to certain challenges. And the second part, "I am has sent me", just carries on the impatience of God with Moses's request for identification. But God gives in to Moses in the next verse and identifies himself as "Yahweh", the traditional god of the Hebrews. So while the theologians have made much of this passage, it is hardly the claim to uniqueness that they often assert. It just shows that the Hebrew god was a rather human figure who got impatient with people not knowing who he was -- and who handed out carved stone tablets and various other things.

Moving on to John 8:58 and the expression "I am" there: The Greek expression Jesus used here is "Ego eimi" -- which is the first person singular form of the verb "to be" in Greek. Its meaning is not however as straightforward in Greek as it is in its English counterpart. It is quite imprecise and can be translated in a number of ways. Even in that particular passage, translators differ on their rendering of it. Some authorities suggest "I have been" but the suggestion I like best is "I am he". That translation fits the text best, it seems to me. He was, after all, answering the enquiry, "Have you seen Abraham?". And in other passages of the NT (e.g. John 14:9) "eimi" is routinely translated as "have been".

So Jesus was certainly claiming to be an ancient being but the statements in Exodus and John are clearly not comparable. And in fact the case and tense structures of Hebrew and Greek are very different so any exact comparability would in any event be fanciful.

What Jesus actually said in his native Aramaic, we can only guess of course. We have only John's report in Greek.

For what it is worth, John would have been well aware of the ancient and widely used translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek -- The Septuagint -- and the Septuagint renders Exodus 3:14 as “EGO EIMI HO OHN,” meaning “I am the being” or "I am the one", so again comparability between the two texts is lost. If John had seen Jesus's Aramaic words as a reference to Exodus 3:14, he would presumably have translated them into Greek in the same way that the ancient Jewish translators behind the Septuagint did.

That John in fact chose a Greek expression that is capable of at least two different meaings is however well in keeping with his Gnostic tendencies. Gnosticism (the pretence of secret knowledge) was around long before Christ and it did eventually infect Christianity. There were various gnostic Christian sects from the second century on. John, however, does appear to have written quite late in the first century so may perhaps be regarded as the first of the Christian Gnostics. The book of Revelations, in particular, reads very much like a Gnostic text, with its constant use of symbolism.

So John took advantage of the various uses of "eimi" to make one of his Gnostic utterances. Compare John 1:1, where his clever use of an anarthrous predicate also leads most Greekless people into thinking he is saying more than he is. He was obviously a very competent Greek stylist.

So John was not being deceitful in using the the words he did. He was just being vague -- perhaps with the aim of saying that REAL Christians would be able to untangle the intended meaning, which is a very Gnostic thing to do. And at the time that was probably no difficulty. But with the impossibility of exactly translating all Greek tenses into languages with different verb structures, misunderstandings have certainly developed.

As someone who has often battled with translating German into English (which are after all two closely related languages) I am confident in saying in fact that ALL translations are only approximations. I comment on that at greater length here. On some occasions you do have to study the original texts to get an accurate sense of the passage.

I can't resist adding a few more comments about the Septuagint. The Torah section of it (including Exodus) is quite ancient and the oldest surviving manuscripts of the OT are in fact mostly of the Septuagint. And there are quite a few places where the Septuagint and the Masoretic (Hebrew) text differ in meaning, though the differences are not usually greatly important.

It used to be automatic among Bible translators to prefer the Masoretic renderings and dismiss the Septuagint as "freely" translated. A widely held view among textual scholars these days, however, holds that the Septuagint was based on a pre-Masoretic version of the Hebrew text and that its renderings are therefore at least as likely to represent the lost original texts as are the Masoretic renderings. In which case the less enigmatic Septuagint rendering of Exodus 3:14 might reasonably be preferred. So YHWH might originally have been recorded as saying not "I am who I am" but rather something like “I am the being” or "I am the one".

Note finally that the apostle Paul normally quoted from the Septuagint in his epistles. How's that for a headspinner?

I would think that in the circumstances a really serious Christian Bible student (are there any left?) would be heading out to buy himself a copy of the Septuagint with an accompanying English translation. I do myself own such a volume but it is quite old so I doubt that it is still in print anywhere. For what it is worth, however, it was published by Samuel Bagster and Sons of London in 1879. Bagster had a most comprehensive range of Bible study aids but with the decline of Biblical scholarship they have now gone out of business. There is however a translation only here that sounds useful. The most "official" translation of the Septuagint at the moment is here but I don't like the assumptions underlying it at all at all.


Cultural decay

Panem et circenses


Why America Keeps Getting More Conservative

I think that the short answer is: Obama. But some other reasons are explored below. Note that self-identified conservatives tend to have less education. Given the anti-factual Leftist brainwashing that pervades the educational system, that figures. The lesser your education, the better is your grip on reality to some degree

Another (related) thing to note that is that working class people are overwhelmingly conservative. The Democrats still sometimes pretend that they are the party of the little guy and the worker but that is straight out false. They've got it ass-about. They are the party of the minorities and the smug

Even with the president’s approval rating showing signs of life and the Republicans busily bashing themselves over the head — “one is a practicing polygamist and he’s not even the Mormon,” retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor recently quipped about her party’s two frontrunners — America continues to track right, according to polling data released by the Gallup Organization last week.

Americans at this political moment are significantly more likely to identify as conservative than as liberal: conservatives outnumber liberals by nearly two to one. Forty percent identify as conservative, 36 percent as moderate, and 21 percent liberal.

There are four states where conservatives make up more than half the population: Mississippi, Utah, Wyoming, and Alabama. Conservatives make up more than 40 percent in 20 more states. Liberals now outnumber conservatives in just one state, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia.

Last March, I took an in-depth look at the factors that might be associated with America’s increasingly conservative ideological cast; I update that analysis here with Gallup’s year-end data. The ongoing economic crisis only appears to have deepened conservatism's hold. America is becoming a more conservative nation, at least at the state level.

My MPI colleague Charlotta Mellander ran a series of correlations on a range of political, economic, demographic and other factors. The associations we found, I hasten to add, are just that — associations; correlation does not show causation. Nonetheless, they reflect the deep cleavages of income, education, and class that divide America.

As before, conservative states are considerably more religious than liberal-leaning states. The correlation between conservative political affiliation and religion (the share of state population for which religion is an important part of daily life) has grown stronger, increasing from .63 to .70.

The correlation between religion and the increase in conservatism over the past year is also considerable. As American states become more religious, they also become more conservative.

Conservative states are also less educated than liberal ones. The correlation between conservative affiliation and the percent of adults who are college graduates) is also substantially higher than before (-.76 vs. -.53), as is the correlation between human capital and the increase in conservatism (-.79).

States with more conservatives are less diverse. Conservative political affiliation is highly negatively correlated with the percent of the population that are immigrants (–.56), or gay and lesbian ( -.60). There is no correlation to race or ethnicity, however, whether measured as percent white, percent black, or percent Hispanic.

Class continues to play a substantial role. Conservative political affiliation is strongly positively correlated with the percentage of a state's workforce in blue-collar occupations (.73), and highly negatively correlated with the proportion of the workforce engaged in knowledge-based professional and creative work (-.61). Both are also associated with the tilt toward conservatism in the past year.

States with more conservatives are considerably less affluent than those with more liberals. Conservative political affiliation is highly negatively correlated with state income levels (-.73) and even more so with average hourly earnings (- .77). This is in line with the findings of Andrew Gelman's Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State, which finds that while rich voters favor Republicans, rich states favor Democrats.

That said, conservatives across America appear to be split along class and income lines when it comes to the issue of whether government should provide help for the poor. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, more than half (57 percent) of lower-income Republicans (those with family incomes of less than $30,000) said that government does not do enough for the poor, while less than one in five (18 percent) said it does too much. Richer Republicans (those with incomes of $75,000 or more), perhaps not surprisingly, overwhelmingly think government does too much.

The ongoing economic crisis only appears to have deepened America's conservative drift - a trend which is most pronounced in its least well off, least educated, most blue collar, most economically hard-hit states.



Over-regulated America

The home of laissez-faire is being suffocated by excessive and badly written regulation --comment from Britain

AMERICANS love to laugh at ridiculous regulations. A Florida law requires vending-machine labels to urge the public to file a report if the label is not there. The Federal Railroad Administration insists that all trains must be painted with an “F” at the front, so you can tell which end is which. Bureaucratic busybodies in Bethesda, Maryland, have shut down children’s lemonade stands because the enterprising young moppets did not have trading licences. The list goes hilariously on.

But red tape in America is no laughing matter. The problem is not the rules that are self-evidently absurd. It is the ones that sound reasonable on their own but impose a huge burden collectively. America is meant to be the home of laissez-faire. Unlike Europeans, whose lives have long been circumscribed by meddling governments and diktats from Brussels, Americans are supposed to be free to choose, for better or for worse. Yet for some time America has been straying from this ideal.

Consider the Dodd-Frank law of 2010. Its aim was noble: to prevent another financial crisis. Its strategy was sensible, too: improve transparency, stop banks from taking excessive risks, prevent abusive financial practices and end “too big to fail” by authorising regulators to seize any big, tottering financial firm and wind it down. This newspaper supported these goals at the time, and we still do. But Dodd-Frank is far too complex, and becoming more so. At 848 pages, it is 23 times longer than Glass-Steagall, the reform that followed the Wall Street crash of 1929. Worse, every other page demands that regulators fill in further detail. Some of these clarifications are hundreds of pages long. Just one bit, the “Volcker rule”, which aims to curb risky proprietary trading by banks, includes 383 questions that break down into 1,420 subquestions.

Hardly anyone has actually read Dodd-Frank, besides the Chinese government and our correspondent in New York (see article). Those who have struggle to make sense of it, not least because so much detail has yet to be filled in: of the 400 rules it mandates, only 93 have been finalised. So financial firms in America must prepare to comply with a law that is partly unintelligible and partly unknowable.

Dodd-Frank is part of a wider trend. Governments of both parties keep adding stacks of rules, few of which are ever rescinded. Republicans write rules to thwart terrorists, which make flying in America an ordeal and prompt legions of brainy migrants to move to Canada instead. Democrats write rules to expand the welfare state. Barack Obama’s health-care reform of 2010 had many virtues, especially its attempt to make health insurance universal. But it does little to reduce the system’s staggering and increasing complexity. Every hour spent treating a patient in America creates at least 30 minutes of paperwork, and often a whole hour. Next year the number of federally mandated categories of illness and injury for which hospitals may claim reimbursement will rise from 18,000 to 140,000. There are nine codes relating to injuries caused by parrots, and three relating to burns from flaming water-skis.

Two forces make American laws too complex. One is hubris. Many lawmakers seem to believe that they can lay down rules to govern every eventuality. Examples range from the merely annoying (eg, a proposed code for nurseries in Colorado that specifies how many crayons each box must contain) to the delusional (eg, the conceit of Dodd-Frank that you can anticipate and ban every nasty trick financiers will dream up in the future). Far from preventing abuses, complexity creates loopholes that the shrewd can abuse with impunity.

The other force that makes American laws complex is lobbying. The government’s drive to micromanage so many activities creates a huge incentive for interest groups to push for special favours. When a bill is hundreds of pages long, it is not hard for congressmen to slip in clauses that benefit their chums and campaign donors. The health-care bill included tons of favours for the pushy. Congress’s last, failed attempt to regulate greenhouse gases was even worse.

Complexity costs money. Sarbanes-Oxley, a law aimed at preventing Enron-style frauds, has made it so difficult to list shares on an American stockmarket that firms increasingly look elsewhere or stay private. America’s share of initial public offerings fell from 67% in 2002 (when Sarbox passed) to 16% last year, despite some benign tweaks to the law. A study for the Small Business Administration, a government body, found that regulations in general add $10,585 in costs per employee. It’s a wonder the jobless rate isn’t even higher than it is.

A plea for simplicity

Democrats pay lip service to the need to slim the rulebook—Mr Obama’s regulations tsar is supposed to ensure that new rules are cost-effective. But the administration has a bias towards overstating benefits and underestimating costs. Republicans bluster that they will repeal Obamacare and Dodd-Frank and abolish whole government agencies, but give only a sketchy idea of what should replace them. [Anything?]

America needs a smarter approach to regulation. First, all important rules should be subjected to cost-benefit analysis by an independent watchdog. The results should be made public before the rule is enacted. All big regulations should also come with sunset clauses, so that they expire after, say, ten years unless Congress explicitly re-authorises them.

More important, rules need to be much simpler. When regulators try to write an all-purpose instruction manual, the truly important dos and don’ts are lost in an ocean of verbiage. Far better to lay down broad goals and prescribe only what is strictly necessary to achieve them. Legislators should pass simple rules, and leave regulators to enforce them.

Would this hand too much power to unelected bureaucrats? Not if they are made more accountable. Unreasonable judgments should be subject to swift appeal. Regulators who make bad decisions should be easily sackable. None of this will resolve the inevitable difficulties of regulating a complex modern society. But it would mitigate a real danger: that regulation may crush the life out of America’s economy.




Another crooked Kennedy?: "The Kennedy family's return to power rests on the shoulders of a 31-year-old lawyer and former Peace Corps volunteer who has never campaigned for public office. Joseph Kennedy III announced Thursday that he is running for Congress, in the Massachusetts district currently represented by retiring Democratic Rep. Barney Frank. In doing so, the grandson of the late Robert F. Kennedy is vying to carry the family mantle back to Washington after the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy in 2009 left a void."

Social Security default: "For the Congressional Budget Office to predict disaster for Social Security in the year 2020 is a startling admission. These people are paid to believe that the trust fund exists, so if they are predicting that the trust fund will be depleted that soon the situation must be pretty dire indeed."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc. He notes a British confirmation of Putnam's well-known American finding -- that people are happiest when living in ethnically homogeneous neighborhoods



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Monday, February 20, 2012

Dishonorable Dishonesty at the Top

Obama's strange and deceitful definition of "fair"

You have probably heard by now the disastrous performance by new White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew on the Sunday morning talk shows last weekend.

When it was noted on CNN's “State of the Union” that the Democrat-controlled Senate has not passed a budget for 1,019 days now, almost three years, in violation of federal law, Lew said, "You can't pass a budget in the Senate of the United States without 60 votes, and you can't get 60 votes without bipartisan support. So unless Republicans are willing to work with Democrats in the Senate, [Majority Leader] Harry Reid is not going to be able to get a budget passed." Later that day, on NBC's “Meet the Press,” Lew repeated in response to the same question, "One of the things about the United States Senate that I think the American people have realized is that it takes 60, not 50, votes to pass something."

The problem is not only that it takes no more than 51 votes to pass a budget resolution under Senate rules. Indeed, it only takes a simple majority of the Senators present. The problem is that Jack Lew has served twice before as Director of OMB, so there is no doubt that he knows this.

I have discussed many times before President Obama's Marxist Saul Alinsky tactic of Calculated Deception. That is President Obama's practice of taking advantage of what he is sure the average person doesn't know, and won't be told by the Democrat Party-controlled media, to mislead the people about the truth.

Jack Lew's dishonesty on last Sunday's talk shows is a perfect example of this. In fact, it is dishonest and misleading to the point of being dishonorable. That is why Jack Lew must now resign for lying to the American people, the same way the Democrats insisted that President Nixon must resign for lying to the American people.

I bring this up here because it is a perfect illustration of the dishonorable dishonesty throughout President Obama's 2013 budget released on Monday, and what the President says and has said to the American people about his budget policies.

When President Obama was asking for our votes in 2008, he told us his budget policy would involve a "net spending cut." In fact, he said precisely that during a nationally televised presidential debate with John McCain. In 2008, federal spending totaled $2.983 trillion. But federal spending for 2012 in the budget the President just released on Monday is projected to total $3.795 trillion, an increase of over 27 percent during his first term alone, up another $193 billion from the last year. In the budget the President released on Monday, spending was projected to soar by 2022 to $5.820 trillion, the highest spending in world history. Over the next 10 years, federal spending, with all of President Obama's blather about spending cuts, will total $47 trillion... under the President's own budget!

Does President Obama understand the meaning of the words "net spending cut?" Or was he deceiving the American people in 2008 when he used those words?

Even this Pacific Ocean of red ink is based on the assumption of exploding tax increases over the next 10 years. The budget assumes that federal income tax revenues will double by 2020, federal corporate tax revenues will double by 2017, and federal payroll taxes will double by 2022.

That is because already enacted under current law for 2013 are increases in the top tax rates for virtually every major federal tax. In that year, the tax increases of Obamacare go into effect, and the Bush tax cuts expire, which Obama refuses to renew for the nation's small businesses, job creators, and investors. That is the English translation of individuals making over $200,000 a year, and couples making over $250,000 per year.

As a result, with the Bush tax cuts simply expiring, the top two income tax rates will go up by nearly 20 percent, the capital gains tax rate will soar by nearly 60 percent, the tax on dividends will nearly triple, the death tax rate will rise by nearly a third, and the Medicare payroll tax will explode by 62 percent for these targeted taxpayers.

Obama says in his budget message that these tax increases are necessary because "everyone must shoulder their fair share," and "we need an economy where everyone shoulders their fair share to put our fiscal house in order." The taxpayers targeted for these tax increases are the top 3 percent of income earners. But as the Wall Street Journal noted yesterday, those top 3 percent pay more in federal income taxes than the bottom 97 percent combined! So if that is not their fair share, what would that fair share be, Comrade Obama?

President Obama is playing you with the most dishonest Big Lie in American political history with this central campaign theme that the rich don't pay their fair share of income taxes, and the middle class and working people are left to pay all of them instead. The truth is more nearly the opposite, with the rich paying nearly all of the income taxes.

The foundation of this calculated deception is the multiple taxation of capital in our tax system. The earnings from capital investment are taxed not once, but multiple times. First, by the corporate income tax, then again by the individual income tax through the tax on dividends, then if you sell the capital investment, through the capital gains tax, then when you die, by the death tax. Consequently, the 15 percent capital gains tax rate is not the only tax that Warren Buffett actually effectively pays on his investment income. This is how the rich end up paying such a large share of the income tax burden.

But Obama figures that enough of you and your friends and neighbors won't know that, and the Democrat-controlled media won't tell them. So he figures he can get away with looting the rich, as his Marxist ideology demands.

All of these Obama tax rate increases are on top of virtually the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world, at nearly 40 percent counting state income taxes, which leaves American companies uncompetitive in the global economy. Even Communist China maintains a 25 percent corporate rate. In the predominantly socialist EU, the average corporate rate is even lower. In formerly socialist Canada, the corporate rate today is 16.5 percent, falling to 15 percent next year.

If President Obama's extremist left-wing rhetoric is not corrected, and he sells the nation his phony picture of reality, it is working people and the middle class that will suffer the most. That is because if we try to shift even more of the tax burden onto the nation's job creators and investors, it is working people and the middle class that will lose jobs, wages, and incomes. That is why America is suffering a capital strike, with no real, long overdue recovery, extended unemployment to rival the Depression, declining real wages and incomes, and more Americans in poverty than at any time in American history.

In fact, if President Obama's comprehensive tax rate increases are not averted, the result will be revenues falling far short of projections, or even declining further, and deficits and debt increasing even more, rather than declining as Obama wrongly projects. For over 40 years now, and possibly more, every time the capital gains tax rate has been increased, revenues have declined. Every time it has been cut, revenues have increased.

The Decline and Fall of America

Finally, the above-discussed levels of federal spending, deficits, and debt include sharp reductions in future federal defense spending. There are sharp savings from withdrawing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. The President cuts missile defense, and fails to modernize our aging, outdated nuclear deterrent, while our top rivals China and Russia do. The U.S. Navy is cut back to the levels before World War I. Troops, ships, and planes are reduced, and modernizations are put on the shelf.

Yet, even with these draconian defense reductions, America still suffers the above-discussed continued explosion of federal spending, deficits and debt. The President not only fails to propose any serious entitlement reform, he scorns serious reform proposals, while our national defenses are threatened. The President's new defense strategy drops the longstanding American defense doctrine of maintaining the ability to fight two major conflicts, or two and half, at the same time. We are now only to maintain the forces to fight one major conflict. That means as soon as we are drawn into any such conflict, we are vulnerable to attack from another enemy, in fact inviting it. While Reagan gave us peace through strength, Obama is on the road to war through weakness.



Taxing Medical Progress to Death

Michelle Malkin

Two years ago this month, as public debate over Obamacare raged, former President Bill Clinton rushed to the hospital because of a heart condition. He immediately underwent a procedure to place two stents in one of his coronary arteries. It was a timely reminder about the dangers of stifling private-sector medical innovation.

No one listened. Stents don't grow on trees. They were not created, developed, marketed or sold by government bureaucrats and lawmakers. One of the nation's top stent manufacturers, Boston Scientific, warned at the time that Obamacare's punitive medical device tax would lead to worker losses and research cuts. The 2.3 percent excise tax, the company said, "would be very damaging to Boston Scientific, and the medical device industry as a whole. In a nutshell, it would raise costs and lead to significant job losses. It does not address the quality of care but the political scorecard of savings."

Two years later, Bill Clinton's doing just peachy. But many medical device manufacturers are suffering, and many more are preparing for the worst as the White House gears up to collect on an estimated $20 billion from the lifesaving industry. In typical Obama-transparent fashion, the Internal Revenue Service quietly released a complex thicket of medical device tax implementation rules in a Friday document dump earlier this month. Barring congressional intervention, the medical device tax will go into full effect in 2013.

Cook Medical, which manufactures products for everything from endovascular therapy, critical care medicine and general surgery, to diagnostic and interventional procedures, to bioengineered tissue replacement and regeneration, gastroenterology and endoscopy procedures, urology, and obstetrics and gynecology, has called for the levy's repeal. Cook Group chairman Stephen Ferguson noted the tax burden amounted to a whopping 55 percent of its profits.

"For a company like ours, which pays 35 percent of our net earnings in federal corporate taxes and another 4 to 5 percent in state and local corporate taxes, the excise tax translates to another payment that will consume 15 percent more of our earnings," he estimated. "This creates tremendous pressure for us to move manufacturing to Europe and other parts of the world."

According to the trade publication Mass Device, the company has already canceled plans to build a new factory in the U.S. because of the Obamacare tax burden.

Stryker, a maker of artificial hips and knees based in Kalamazoo, Mich., announced in November that it would slash 5 percent of its global workforce (an estimated 1,000 workers) this coming year to reduce costs related to Obamacare's taxes and mandates.

Covidien, a N.Y.-based surgical supplies manufacturer, recently announced layoffs of 200 American workers and plans to move some of its plant work to Mexico and Costa Rica, in part because of the coming tax hit.

Mass.-based Zoll Medical Corp., which makes defibrillators and employs some 1,800 workers in the U.S. and around the world, says the medical device tax will cost the company between $5 million and $10 million a year. Its profit in 2009 was $9.5 million.

"Running our company at close to break even would not be a sustainable position for us," CEO Richard Packer said in a public statement, "so we will be forced to look at alternatives."

Those "alternatives" include cutting payroll, cutting R and D and passing on the costs to patients, of course. Industry estimates put the tax-induced job losses at 43,000. So far, the number-crunchers at 1600 Pennsylvania are mum on the number of potential jobs -- and lives -- destroyed by the medical innovation death tax.

In fact, the Obama administration's response so far has been a flippant shrug. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, whose only manufacturing claims to fame are faulty tax returns and near-double-digit unemployment figures, brushed off concerns this week about the medical device tax. Obamacare's expanded access to health care, he argues blithely, will create more consumers for their products. "On balance, it is a good package for people in the health care business," he told Bloomberg News.

Fewer jobs. Fewer entrepreneurs. Fewer medical advances. Only with a gallon of self-delusion does the Obamacare medical tax medicine amount to anything other than economic and medical malpractice.



Will Presbyterians Repudiate their Church leadership’s Hate for Israel and Jews?

The disconnect between the views of the leadership of mainline Protestant churches on the Middle East and those of the rank-and-file members of their congregations has been growing in recent decades. Activists and leading clergy of liberal Protestant denominations have embraced the Palestinian cause while most of those who attend their churches are, like most Americans, warm supporters of Israel. But in the case of at least one of these churches — the Presbyterian Church USA — the gap between those who speak in the name of these institutions and those whom they claim to represent has grown to the point where communal relations are at the brink of a breakdown. Institutions connected with the Presbyterians have become a font of anti-Israel invective that has crossed the line into outright anti-Semitism.

In the course of promoting their anti-Israel policies, church leaders have engaged in rhetoric that seeks not only to delegitimize the state of Israel but also the Jewish community. The actions and statements of the church’s Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN-PCUSA) have been so egregious that the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella network of Jewish community relations groups, has been forced to go public with their complaints in hopes that ordinary Presbyterians will do something about the epidemic of hate speech springing from church activists.

Even a partial list of offensive statements made by Presbyterian activists on Israel and the Jews ought to send a chill down the spines of church members who may be unaware of what is going on:
At an opening program of the IPMN-PCUSA annual conference, the Rev. Craig Hunter said “greed and injustice is a cancer at the very core of Zionism.” In a 2010 letter to church delegates, the IPMN-PCUSA falsely accused the Jewish community of intimidating Presbyterians by sending a letter-bomb to the church’s headquarters and setting fire to a church. IPMN-PCUSA tweeted an article proclaiming “Jewish power + Jewish hubris = moral catastrophe of epic proportions.” IPMN-PCUSA also has supported virulently anti-Israel resolutions including those equating Israel with apartheid and has been a vocal supporter of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanction movement. …

The IPMN-PCUSA Facebook page includes a cartoon of President Obama wearing weighty Jewish star earrings to suggest Jewish control of the American leaders, a common theme on the site. The IPMN-PCUSA has posted articles that accuse Jews of controlling Hollywood, the media, and American politics – and blaming Israel for the American housing and economic crisis. IPMN-PCUSA’s communications chair also posted her opposition to a two-state solution and the existence of a Jewish state, something which she terms “anachronistic.” The same IPMN leader, Noushin Framke, clicked “like” on the Obama cartoon with the Jewish stars and another post that Hamas should keep Israeli Gilad Shalit hostage until Palestinians are granted a right of return.

The idea that a mainstream American church would engage in this sort of abuse of Jews and the Jewish state is shameful. Moreover, this is not about church activists engaging in legitimate criticism of Israeli policies. By participating in a propaganda war against Zionism and the existence of Israel and its right of self-defense, these Presbyterian activists have crossed the line that separates criticism from delegitimization. Anyone who would deny Jews the same rights of self-determination and self-defense they would never think of questioning when it comes to any other country is engaging in bigotry. The church’s activities have nothing to do with the promotion of peace and everything to do with scapegoating Israel and the Jews.

While this has nothing to do with the beliefs, let alone the actions of the overwhelming majority of American Presbyterians, it goes without saying the responsibility for policing these institutions belongs to church members. Because Jewish community relations professionals have failed to get the church hierarchy to act on this question up until now, it is up to the rank-and-file to speak out against this behavior and see that it ends. Those Presbyterians who say they wish to live in fellowship with their Jewish neighbors are obligated to ensure their church does not engage in anti-Semitism or support an economic war on the Jewish state. On this point, there can be no middle ground. The church must repudiate these extremists who have appropriated their good name to promote a hateful cause.




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