Friday, September 21, 2012

Romney's "Secret Video" and the Dem Politics of "Squirrel!"

 Michelle Malkin

Democrats need to change their party mascot from the donkey to the squirrel. They divert the media's and the electorate's short attention spans with fleeting, fuzzy objects -- like the main canine character in the animated Pixar movie "Up," who was easily distracted from his main thoughts and serious duties by every last little moving trifle.

Embassy attacks? Quick, find a squirrel! Warnings ignored? Squirrel! American troops killed by long-plotting jihadis exploiting security weaknesses? Squirrel! First Amendment sabotage by White House officials in the name of political correctness? Squirrel! Chronic joblessness, high gas prices, exploding dependency? Squirrel! Squirrel! Squirrel!

As Election Day draws nearer, the Obama campaign and its surrogates in the Fourth Estate have infested the political arena with an army of tactical and rhetorical rodentia. One week, it's GOP presidential rival Mitt Romney's high school hijinks. The next, it's a heinous smear about Romney killing a steelworker's cancer-stricken wife.

Or, it's a hit job on multiple sclerosis survivor Ann Romney's therapeutic horse. Then, it's faux rage over Romney's firm statement condemning the feckless White House response to the murders of our U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in Benghazi.

This week, it's a "secret Romney video" shot undercover at a closed-door dinner with Florida donors in May. Unemployed Democratic operative James Carter IV (grandson of former president and malaise engineer Jimmy Carter) brokered the film to progressive Mother Jones magazine.

Now, the same media lapdogs who had conniption fits when the late Andrew Breitbart and conservative investigative journalist James O'Keefe used undercover video are tripping over themselves to publish glowing profiles of Carter the Fourth and his impressive "furtive efforts" to secure the Romney tapes.

Carter the Fourth found the cameraman on Twitter, invoked his family name and convinced the mole to leak the tape to Mother Jones' David Corn. To quote Joe Biden with all due sarcasm: BFD.

But back to the bigger Big, Fluffy Distraction at hand: Let's reflect for a moment on the Beltway hoo-hah over one small snippet from Romney's nearly hour-long talk. Here's the quote that has liberal finger-waggers and Republican wet-finger-in-the-wind windbags in meltdown mode:

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney explained to an audience member who asked how the candidate was going to change the "we'll take care of you" mentality of Obama voters. "All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. ... And they will vote for this president no matter what."

Romney explained that this portion of voters was comprised of "people who pay no income tax. ... I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

He's talking, of course, about the Peggy the Moochers and Henrietta Hugheses of the world: savior-based Obama supporters for whom the cult of personality trumps all else. He's talking about the Sandra Flukes and Julias of the world: Nanny State grievance-mongers who have been spoon-fed identity politics and victim Olympics from preschool through grad school and beyond. And he's talking about the encrusted entitlement clientele who range from the Section 8 housing mob in Atlanta who caused a near-riot to the irresponsible, debt-ridden homeowners who mortgaged themselves into oblivion and want their bailout now, now, now.

Media wonks sliced and diced the words like hibachi chefs on bath salts. Beltway conservative scribes David Brooks and Bill Kristol denounced Romney as insensitive and out of touch. But Romney told hard political truths, which he's proclaimed openly on the campaign trail before. "If you're looking for free stuff you don't have to pay for, vote for the other guy," he told a heckler in March. "That's what he's all about, OK? That's not, that's not what I'm about."

Gasp! He said he's against freeloaders. Oh, the inhumanity.

In another section of the video that libs don't want to talk about, Romney received his biggest applause when he defended his success and mentioned what Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio's Cuban immigrant parents taught him. "When he grew up here poor, they looked at people who had a lot of wealth. His parents never once said, 'We need some of what they have. They should give us some.' Instead, they said, 'If we work hard and go to school, someday we might be able to have that.'"

Let the parsers and panicky pundits chase their tails and hurl their nuts. This election is about America's makers versus America's takers. Romney should never, ever apologize for making that clear.



The Great Tax Divide

 Thomas Sowell
New York Times economics writer David Leonhardt recently took the "no panacea" approach to rebut the argument for tax cuts.   Presidents Bush 41 and Bill Clinton both raised tax rates, and the economy continued to grow, while the economy declined after President Bush 43's tax rate cuts, Leonhardt argued.

The 800-pound gorilla that gets ignored by people who use these talking points is the dominant economic factor of those years -- namely the huge and unsustainable housing boom that led to a catastrophic housing bust that took down the whole economy on Bush 43's watch.

Tax cuts are not a panacea. In fact, nothing is a panacea or else, by definition, all the problems of the world would already be solved.

Ironically, it was Mr. Leonhardt's own newspaper that reported in 2006, "An unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is driving down the projected budget deficit this year."

Expectations are of course in the eye of the beholder. Rising tax revenues in the wake of a cut in high tax rates was a possibility expected by five different administrations, both Democratic and Republican, over a period of more than three-quarters of a century.

No one expected automatic and instant surges in economic growth. Both John F. Kennedy and John Maynard Keynes spoke in terms of the long-run effects of lower tax rates, not the kind of instant results suggested by Mr. Leonhardt's graph of growth rates -- least of all during a very volatile housing market in which American homeowners took trillions of dollars in equity out of their homes.

Back during the 1920s, when there was no such monumental economic factor as the housing boom and bust until 1929, there was a rapid increase in both tax revenues and jobs after the tax rates were cut. Today, the uncertainties generated by an activist and anti-business administration probably have more of a chilling effect on investments than the tax rate does.



Hate and Speech

Presidential confidante and U.N. ambassador Susan Rice took to the Sunday-show circuit this weekend in an effort to spin the cascade of violent anti-American protests in the Muslim world into a story about the effectiveness of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. In the course of this impossible task, Ambassador Rice made a number of dubious claims, but perhaps none was more dangerous and stupid than this bold declarative to ABC’s Jake Tapper:

What transpired this week . . . in Cairo, in Benghazi, in many other parts of the region, was a direct result of a heinous and offensive video [entitled “The Innocence of Muslims”] that was widely disseminated, that the U.S. government had nothing to do with, which we have made clear is reprehensible and disgusting.

The baffling assertion that the protests were a spontaneous and unmediated reaction to an amateurish YouTube video that anteceded them by a month so strains credulity that we have to assume the administration doesn’t even believe it. House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers (R., Mich.) has said that there is preliminary evidence that the Benghazi attack was premeditated and well-planned. In Cairo, Mohammed al-Zawahiri, brother of al-Qaeda caporegime Ayman al-Zawahiri, was at the front of the horde. Other protesters were reportedly paid. They burned American flags and ran up al-Qaeda colors in their place. They chanted “Obama! Obama! We are all Osama!” And they did it all on the anniversary of September 11.
We may not think much of the president’s foreign policy, but we find it difficult to believe he could see all this and think “if it hadn’t been for that damned YouTube video . . . ”

The truth is that the video was a pretext, and the attacks the consequence of a deep current of anti-Western rage that persists in the Muslim world despite the president’s famous “Cairo speech” and the muddled engagement strategy for which it was the synecdoche. Because the administration cannot admit this — perhaps not even to itself — its spokesmen trot out patent absurdities such as Ambassador Rice’s and present them to a largely compliant media. Unfortunately, this does violence not just to the facts, but to that preponderant American value: the freedom of speech.

To say that the besieging of American missions abroad, and the murder of American diplomats, is “the direct result of a heinous and offensive video” is to implicitly legitimize such a causal connection; it is not more than a step or two removed from saying that the victim of a crime was “asking for it.” To lead not with condemnation of the killers but with apologies, epithets, and disclaimers for the speech acts alleged to have incited their rage, is to incentivize the kind of thinking displayed by the Egyptian prime minister, who said that the attacks on U.S. embassies were not wrong per se but merely misdirected because the United States government hadn’t actually produced the video. And to append embarrassed defenses of free speech aimed at Muslim extremists with soothing invocations of freedom of religion, as the Cairo embassy staff did and the administration continues to do, is to miss the point of both liberties in a tragically ironic way: Under the First Amendment, the free-speech and free-exercise clauses are both compatible and complementary. Under the Islamism that drives the embassy besiegers, the one is, as the vice president would say, literally the mortal enemy of the other.

Nor have the crimes against free speech been merely rhetorical. Before police brought in the video’s creator for “questioning,” ostensibly over whether he violated the terms of a 2010 probation agreement, the federal government reportedly requested that YouTube investigate whether “The Innocence of Muslims” violated the site’s terms of service, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs himself placed a phone call to a Florida pastor to ask him to withdraw support for it.

This not-so-subtle coercion occurs against the backdrop of renewed efforts to globalize anti-blaspemy laws, efforts with which the current administration has shown a troubling sympathy. In 2009, in what American diplomats said was an effort to “reach out to Muslim countries,” the administration joined with Egypt, the representative of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), to introduce a hate-speech resolution at the U.N. It called on all states to “take effective measures to combat” religious hate speech. Last year, Secretary Clinton followed up with an initiative, called the “Istanbul Process,” under which the State Department, together with the OIC, is seeking ways to implement other U.N. resolutions against “religious stereotyping.” But the OIC’s final objective is to obtain the international criminalization of blasphemy against Islam, and such missteps by the administration give the appearance of validating this repressive effort.
All of this unjustly undermines free speech, and for a problem it never caused in the first place. Rice’s statement, and the official administration narrative it reflects, is thus built on both empirical and moral errors. It is both incorrect and, in a profounder sense, wrong.



Shifting Demographics: The Death of Conservatism?

A major rule of political warfare is to never accept the wisdom of those who don’t have your best interests at heart.

Columnist Kathleen Parker, who inexplicably passes for conservative,  recently sounded the death knell for the Republican Party in a piece entitled “Pale Party of Lincoln” (the Republican Party and conservatism, though two different entities, share many overlapping ideas and individuals, so, for the sake of brevity, “Republican Party” will be used throughout).

Many observers, on both sides of the aisle, echo the notion that, since America is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, the GOP, primarily a white party, will have to attract more minorities to remain viable.  According to projections, by mid-century, white Americans will be outnumbered by all other groups combined.

Parker writes, “courageous Republicans might look for clues in their children’s science book…There they’ll learn that eco-systems thrive and are most productive when there is bio-diversity… The strongest and fittest are those who adapt and that species for now goes by the name Democrat.”

James Carville based “40 More Years:  How Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation,” written before the Republican tidal wave of 2010, on partly the same premise.  Granted, the claim is not unreasonable, as demographic and lifestyle shifts could spell trouble for a party moored in white, traditional America.  But note the presumptuousness of conventional wisdom:  generations not yet born are already deemed the property of the Democratic Party.

To those invested in bigger government, statism is always our inevitable fate, and that notion, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, hypnotizes freedom’s staunchest allies, as well.  But another rule of political warfare is to beware of those who boldly claim that they can foretell the future.  Life holds too many twists and turns to anticipate, and, as for politics, it is defined by a cyclical nature that reveals itself only in hindsight.

As Jonah Goldberg notes in “The Tyranny of Cliches,” no one group, once given the vote, has ever assured either party unlimited rule. Republicans, by the way, are told that they must especially worry about the growing Hispanic population.

Black Americans won the vote in 1870, massive waves of immigrants flooded this country in the early 1900s, women were given the vote in 1920, and eighteen year-olds in 1972, and the cycle of two-party dominance has remained steady.  Republicans, for instance, all but owned the presidency between the Civil War and 1920, with only Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson (both elected twice) breaking their hold, but control of Congress shifted constantly.

And despite a century-old cottage industry predicting the demise of the GOP, Eisenhower, Nixon and even Bush 43 brought their party back after seemingly unstoppable Democratic rule.

Those who grumble that the Republican Party is too white actually mean it is too conservative.  It is true that blacks and Hispanics are largely drawn to the Democrats, but it is also true that when liberals have to choose between their cherished “diversity” and raw power, they will leave America drab, uniform and dependent every time.  Liberal control of social policy and culture has decimated the black, two-parent family, an institution rich in heritage, determination and community.

Large numbers of Hispanic and poor-white babies are now being born to single mothers, leaving them dependent on the same welfare state that deems its own continuation, and not the self-sustenance of families, as Priority #1.

Ideally, self-government is about competing ideas, not the clash of groups and interests.  If racial identity is now the defining characteristic of public life, then it is not the future of the Republican Party we should be discussing, but the future of the United States of America as we know it.



My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH,  FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


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


Thursday, September 20, 2012

The NET Bible

A Bible translation specifically designed for the internet? That is what the NET Bible started out as being but you can get various printed copies of it now. It was designed to be freely quotable without copyright restrictions but now has copyright restrictions.

All a bit confusing but it does retain one of its original virtues: Because space on the net is a lot cheaper than paper, the version comes complete with VERY extensive notes, probably as extensive as the old Companion Bible, which was a HUGE tome.

So I was interested in how the NET translators handled John 1:1, in which John stresses the role of Jesus as God's messenger. John puts that very strongly from the beginning by referring to Jesus as God's WORD.

The straightforward meaning of the text is however generally distorted by the Trinitarian thinking of the translators. John stresses that Jesus is an ancient spirit being who became incarnated but specifically rules out the idea that Jesus is also the Creator (everything was done THROUGH (di) him, not BY him). Most translators glide over that bit however. They say: "The word was God", creating the impression that Jesus was the creator.

The trouble is that in the ancient Greek the usage of the word for "the" was different, and John wrote in the Greek way whereas the translators usually do not. Furthermore, whoever you regarded as the chief God was always referred to in ancient Greek as THE God (ho theos). To the pagans that was mostly Zeus and in the New Testament, exactly the same expression was used for the one God of the Hebrews. So any reference to "God" in the English NT is a translation of "The God" in the original Greek. The "The" is normally dropped in English but is regularly used in Greek.

But if the "the" (ho) is dropped in Greek that is a very different story. And John DOES drop it in John 1:1. John refers to the creator as "ho theos" but Jesus is merely "theos".

So what does it mean when John refers to the creator as "ho theos" and Jesus as "theos"? In normal Greek usage the noun without the "the" becomes indefinite and can be translated in John 1:1 as either "a god" or "divine". So what John is saying quite clearly is that the Word was NOT the creator, even though Jesus in his pre-human form was also an ancient spirit being.

The idea that there is more than one spirit being in Heaven is of course no particular problem. We read of angels there and Paul promised the early Christians that they would become spirit beings too.

So the plain meaning of John is disliked by trinitarians who are convinced that Jesus is in some puzzling way also the creator. So they translate "kai theos een ho Logos" as "the Word was God" when a literal translation would be "the word was a god".

I could go on about exceptions in Greek grammar for the use of the definite article but verse 4 shows John was using the article in the regular way I have outlined. What I have said above is just scene-setting, however. I want to look at how the NET Bible treats the passage.

They have extensive notes on it and discuss fairly fully the issues I have outlined. They say, for instance:
"Colwell’s Rule is often invoked to support the translation of θεός (theos) as definite (“God”) rather than indefinite (“a god”) here.... The translation “what God was the Word was” is perhaps the most nuanced rendering, conveying that everything God was in essence, the Word was too. This points to unity of essence between the Father and the Son without equating the persons.... The construction in John 1:1c does not equate the Word with the person of God (this is ruled out by 1:1b, “the Word was with God”); rather it affirms that the Word and God are one in essence.

So, knowing all that, what translation do they give in their main text? They give: "The Word was fully God" -- which is just about the opposite of what they knew the passage to mean! Disgraceful!

So I am not impressed by the NET Bible either.

Another Bible translation that is famous for its footnotes is the old Geneva Bible, a translation even older than the KJV. And in their footnotes they interpret the passage to mean that the Word was of "the selfsame essence or nature" as the creator, which is pretty fair. Once again, I find that a translation from the early days of Protestantism is more respectful of the original Bible text than are most modern versions.


Hegel in Japan

Prewar Japanese nationalists were the ultimate socialists -- even making the Nazis look wishy washy.

Below is part of a Book Review of Japan's Holy War: The Ideology of Radical Shinto Ultranationalism by Walter A. Skya. Review by Richard A. Koenigsberg

What is totalitarianism? Why did the Axis powers stick together? What did Japan have in common with Germany? This essential book articulates the ideology underlying Japanese ultra-nationalism.

According to the Japanese social theorist, Hozumi Yatsuka (1860-1912), the individual exists in society, and society within the individual. Skya explains that—in Hozumi’s view—the clash between individualism and socialism is resolved by Hozumi’s concept of g­odo seizon (literally, fused or amalgamated existence), by which he meant the merging of the individual into society. Society was composed of merged individuals; human beings fused together to create “society.”

The ideal person was one who desired assimilation into the “higher organic totality” of society. The purpose of ethics and morality, according to Hozumi, was to direct the individual toward kodoshin: submergence of the self into the social totality.

Skya explains that for Hozumi—and many other Japanese thinkers—Enlightenment thought was a threat to the Japanese ethnic state. The struggle against Western liberalism focused on hostility toward the idea of “the individual” as an entity separate from society. Hozumi stated that “the individual does not exist in isolation,” and that “it is a mistake to think that society is made up of isolated, self-supporting individuals.”

Skya says that Hozumi waged a war against Western civilization. This, essentially, was a war against the idea that it is possible for human beings to exist in a condition of separation from society. The bond between the individual and society, according to Hozumi, was rock-solid and eternal.

Minobe Tatsukichi (1873-1948) was one of the hundreds of Japanese students who flocked to German universities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and absorbed German thought. These Japanese students were influenced by theories pioneered by G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831), who asserted that the state was not a contractual relationship between individuals, but was itself an “individuality, independent of and superior to all other individuals.”

Sovereignty, according to Hegel, was not the right or power of the individual or individuals, but stemmed from the state itself, an “organic unity with a personality of its own.” The state, in short, was conceived as a person or “individual organism,” and the emperor as an “organ of the state.”

Hegel’s theory easily transferred to Japanese society. Uesugi Shinkichi (1878-1929), a constitutional law scholar, also conceived of the state as an organism. In Japan, the emperor was the ultimate source of the nation’s organizational will, representing the ideal embodiment of the state organism. Obeying the emperor was not only a moral action that contributed to this “collective being as a totality,” but the highest realization of the self—of one’s “essential being.” To absorb the self into the emperor, Skya says—to become part of the emperor—was to “accomplish man’s essential being.”

One of the most important thinkers to shape religious nationalism in Japan was Kakehi Katsuhiko (1872-1961). Kakehi developed the theory of “one heart, same body,” which revolved around abandoning the self and offering one’s entire body and soul to the emperor. A true Japanese does not think of self-interest, but rather “forgets one’s own concerns and completely offers oneself to the emperor.” This was especially true for soldiers.

When one enlisted in the military, one “died and was reborn again to the armed forces under the command of the emperor.” According to Kakehi, “You give up your life, and do not think for a moment that you are what you are.” One abandoned one’s personal will in order to fulfill the will of the emperor.

In order to achieve the state of “one heart, same body,” the individual had to discard or annihilate the self. According to Kakehi, any consideration of one’s own personal needs was wrong: one had to totally submerge the self into the collectivity. When Kakehi spoke of the bad aspects of Western culture that had entered Japan, Skya says, he was referring to the evils of Western secularism and individualism. Kakehi believed that the Western focus on the value of the individual was the “greatest threat to the Japanese nation.”

What is the nature and meaning of this threat of “individualism” that pervaded Japanese political theory? I have found this same idea—that the nation is threatened by individualism—at the heart of Nazi ideology as well. Why should the idea of individual freedom be conceived as a threat to the existence of one’s nation?

Here we encounter a fundamental dynamic revolving around the idea of separation or separateness. “Individualism” for the radical nationalist is equated with the idea of separation from the nation, thus disrupting the idea of “one heart, same body.”

Totalitarianism revolves around the nation as an actual organism or body politic. Individualism or separateness represents the idea of a human being (a body or organism) that is not merged or fused with the national body. The terrifying idea is that the human body might become separated from the omnipotent body: that the human being will no longer be united with the body politic.

The totalitarian dream or fantasy, common to both Japanese ultra-nationalism and Nazism, is that all human bodies must unite to constitute one body: the omnipotent body politic. In totalitarianism, each and every human being is expected to abandon the “will to separation” (individualism) and to embrace and to subordinate the self to the “national will.”

But what becomes of the self after individual consciousness is denied? In Kakehi’s political theology, according to Skya, the individual “enters into the mystical body of the emperor once one’s own individuality is abandoned.”

Kakehi claims that subjects “cast aside their individual selves and enter into the emperor.” He asserts that all Japanese living at the present time exist inside the emperor; that all Japanese who have ever lived—from the origins of the state onward—exist within the emperor. The emperor, in other words, symbolizes an immortal body in which all Japanese bodies are contained.

Skya concludes that the “total assimilation of the individual into a collective body is the goal of all totalitarian movements,” of which Shinto ultra-nationalism was “only one variety.” I agree with this assessment. What’s more, the assimilation of the individual into the collective body is conceived as a moral imperative. The fundamental dictum of totalitarianism is: “There shall be nothing separate from the collective body.”

Those who embrace totalitarian ideals react with panic and rage to the possibility that anything could exist separately from the national body. Ultra-nationalism builds upon a symbiotic fantasy: the people and the nation are one, the leader and the nation are one, the leader and the people are one, the people are merged with one another (as if cells in a body).

The idea of separation or separateness acts to shatter the fantasy of perfect union with an omnipotent body (politic). Perfect union is achieved when the individual abandons his own will in order to internalize the will of the nation and its leaders. Hitler informed the German people, “You are nothing, your nation is everything.” The advantage of becoming “nothing” is that one can incorporate the nation into the self—thus becoming “everything.” One seeks to identity with the omnipotent body politic.

Soldiers occupy a special role in this totalitarian ideology. Kakehi singled out the armed forces, which he thought occupied a special position among the emperor's subjects in the modern Japanese state. In his "One Spirit, Same Body" address, he quoted a passage from the Gunjin Chokuyu (Imperial Rescript to the Armed Forces):

Soldiers and Sailors, We are your supreme commander-in-chief. Our relations with you will be the most intimate when We rely upon you as Our limbs and you look up to Us as your head. If the majesty and power of Our Empire be impaired, you share with Us the sorrow; if the glory of Our arms shine resplendent, we will share with you the honor.

This passage, Skya observes, emphasizes the “direct and intimate ties between the Emperor and the soldier.”

However, the relationship between leaders and led is more than “direct and intimate.” The soldiers and sailors are relied upon as “limbs,” and should look up to their commanders as their “head.” In short, soldiers and leaders of the armed forces are conceived as part of the same body. When a soldier carries out the will of his superior, he is not simply “obeying.” He can no more resist the order of his superior than an arm can resist the brain’s command.



Judge reinstates federal kidnapping powers

A federal appeals judge restored the government’s alleged power to kidnap people on American soil and detain them until the end of an endless war.

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Katherine Forrest granted a permanent injunction on enforcement of section 1021(b)(2), which allowed the federal government to indefinitely detain virtually anybody for any reason without due process. The judge found language in section 1021 overbroad and that it would allow for detention of those engaging in constitutionally protected free speech. She also said detention provisions deny prospective detainees basic due process rights.

The Obama administration appealed almost immediately and asked Forrest for an immediate stay. She refused. On Monday, government lawyers asked the Second U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan to issue an emergency stay, reinstating the power to indefinitely detain people on U.S. soil.

“The Justice Department sent a letter to Forrest and the Second Circuit late Friday night informing them that at 9 a.m. Monday the Obama administration would ask the Second Circuit for an emergency stay that would lift Forrest’s injunction,” lead plaintiff Christopher Hedges wrote. “This would allow Obama to continue to operate with indefinite detention authority until a formal appeal was heard.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Judge Raymond Lohier granted the stay Monday evening. It will remain in place until the appellate court rules on the case. The court is expected to take up the issue beginning on Sept. 28.

Ironically, President Obama expressed concern about the scope of the indefinite detention provisions when he signed the NDAA into law.

“The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it,” Obama wrote in a signing statement. “In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.”

Now, his administration continues to fight tooth-and-nail to hold onto those very detention powers.

“You have to wonder why he is fighting so hard to maintain a power he claimed he would never use. Makes you doubt his sincerity, doesn’t it?” Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey said. “This just goes to show that when the federal government gets its grubby paws around any given power, it will never relinquish its grip. That’s why we continue to insist that states need to take steps to block any actions that would deny their citizens basic rights of due process .”



Open Letter to Barack Obama

From economist Donald J. Boudreaux:

Speaking today in Ohio, you bragged that your administration brought unfair-trade complaints against China “at nearly twice the rate” at which George W. Bush’s administration brought such complaints. In other words, your administration…

… is nearly twice as active as was that of your predecessor at raising Americans’ cost of living by badgering suppliers to hike the prices charged on products such as consumer electronics, furniture, and footwear;

… has doubled-down on the Bush administration’s efforts to raise production costs for the many American producers who buy inputs such as zinc and oil-field-drilling equipment from Chinese manufacturers;

… is two times as likely to pander to the economically ignorant in order to grant special privileges to the politically powerful, all in efforts to prevent Americans from spending their money as they see fit.

And you’re proud of this record?



My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The NIV as a servant of Protestant theology

The "New International Version" translation of the Bible has been very widely adopted in Protestant circles but its claim to be a faithful rendering of the original texts is hollow. I am not alone in seeing it as the servant of Protestant theology, as the examples here show --but I thought it might be useful to add a couple of other examples which I regard as rather gross and which may be a bit clearer than the examples given in the link above.

In Genesis 2:4 the KJV refers to "the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens". That is of course a bit inconvenient -- did creation take one day or seven days? -- so my 1978 edition of the NIV simply replaces "the day that" with "when". That is a perfectly reasonable theological interpretation of the original text but it is not what the original text actually says. The Hebrew word concerned means simply "in the day". See here.

And the revised NIV issued last year seems to be even worse than my original 1978 edition. As soon as I heard that it featured "inclusive" language I resolved not to buy it. When political correctness steamrollers what the Bible writers actually wrote, we know we are in the Devil's hands. If they cannot translate pronouns accurately, what hope is there for accuracy in more difficult passages?

As it happens, however, a reader has sent me an excerpt, apparently from the new edition, which renders 1 Corinthians 20, 21 as:

"So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk".

But the word "private" is a complete interpolation that is not even in the 1978 NIV edition. There is no such word in the original Greek -- only the word "idion" (own). The point of the interpolation is an attempt to undermine the meaning of verse 20, which rather clearly denies that the communal meals of the early Christians constituted a celebration of the Lord's Supper -- as I pointed out on 17th..

So the NIV is thoroughly polluted. It is a work of theology as much as a translation and should be avoided by anyone interested in what the Bible writers actually said.

But not everybody can go back to the original languages so what translation do I recommend? Perverse as it undoubtedly seems, I use the original KJV version from the year 1611. It is actually a pretty literal translation. I think that they had more respect for what the Bible actually said back then.

The recensions of the original texts that they had back then -- such as "Stephanus" -- were undoubtedly inferior to modern recensions such as Nestle but all recensions are around 99% identical anyway. I wish I could say the same for translations.


If This Is Recovery, Who Needs Recession?

President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats meeting in Charlotte for their national convention danced around the answer to the question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”

If they were dancing Friday, it was probably to a dirge.

Economists had been expecting 125,000 new jobs in the August jobs report. Friday’s report showed only 96,000 jobs created in August and an unemployment rate that dropped to 8.1 percent. But the real unemployment rate is in the double digits, because people are not included in the jobs stats if they’ve become so frustrated at failing to find a job they’ve stopped looking.

“The most important answer to the ‘better off’ question is this: Americans on the whole are better off than they would have been without the stimulus. But (yes, there’s always a but) many are worse off than they were four years ago, and that means more work needs to be done,” writes the editorial board of Bloomberg News in an editorial headlined, “Are You Better Off? There’s No Easy Answer.”

This, Dear Reader, is in an editorial defending the president’s record. It’s the meme adopted by Obama and his apologists.

Many of us can remember the 1970s economy and its recessions, Arab oil embargoes, and “stagflation”—a combination of economic stagnation and rapid price inflation. By the time of the 1980 presidential campaign between incumbent Jimmy Carter and challenger Ronald Reagan, the nation had double-digit interest and inflation rates and unemployment rates between 7.5 and 8 percent. This compares to the 7.8 percent rate in 2009, when Obama took office, and inflation rates of about 2 percent and interest rates that have been at or near record lows throughout his presidency.

Reagan won that election and took office early in 1981. The federal budget in 1981 was cut nearly 5 percent, the first of several cuts in tax rates occurred, and deregulation begun late in the Carter presidency continued. By November 1982 a strong recovery was underway.

Inflation, unemployment, and interest rates all fell to the single digits during Reagan’s reign. Real per-capita disposable income grew 18 percent from 1982 to 1989.

Contrast those results with the Obama regime’s record of more spending and regulation, calls for higher taxes on high-income earners, and new taxes in the Obamacare law:

* Median family income down approximately $4,000 and per-capita disposable income down from $33,229 during the 2008 campaign year to $32,677 in 2011. There was no growth in per-capita income during the first half of 2012, leaving it just $511 higher than the $32,166 when the so-called recovery began in 2009, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

* Nearly 12 million more people on food stamps.

* 43 months with official unemployment above 8 percent, the longest streak with such high unemployment since the Great Depression.

* More than 800,000 people added to the ranks of long-term unemployed since the start of the “recovery” in 2009.

This is not to suggest Reagan (and the Congresses he worked with) did everything right, or that government can start and stop an economy like a machine. The national economy is made up of hundreds of millions of persons making billions of decisions and interacting with billions of others around the world. People don’t necessarily act the way governments want or expect.

But experience shows lower taxes and less regulation make for happier people and better economic performance. For you anti-Reagan scoffers, remember the Kennedy tax cuts that helped boost the economy in the 1960s.

Sharp tax increases loom beginning January 1 if Congress allows the tax cuts of the early 2000s to expire. Financial and health care industry laws passed during the Obama presidency cover thousands of pages each, with thousands more pages of regulations to be written. The national debt has virtually tripled in the last 10 years. And whether we go with the Romney-Ryan budget projections or the Obama-Biden projections, trillions more dollars of debt will be added.

People have good reason to feel pessimistic—and very good reason to doubt more spending, regulation, and “monetary stimulus” will make things better.



Obama leaves the rule of law in tatters

If he's reelected, the 2,000-year-old ideal will be pushed beyond the tipping point.

Whether you are 21 or 81, or whether you work on the factory floor or in the front office, you know something is fundamentally wrong with our great country. Today, we live in a society where uncertainty and economic stagnation are off the charts, causing financial pain for just about everyone. How did we descend to such depths? What can we do to right this great ship called America?

Don’t look for answers in the latest poll, but in the Obama administration's relentless attack on this country's DNA: the rule of law. Before Election Day, we need to know why a Obama second term will be the tipping point for the rule of law, and why its destruction will take your wallet and personal freedom down with it.

The rule of law, which is the cornerstone of our Constitution, has over 2,000 years of history behind it. This cherished ideal stands for the proposition that a free and prosperous society must be based on “a government of laws and not men.” Instead of nurturing this time-tested ideal, President Obama has acted as if the rule of law is an impediment to be dispensed with at will.

Since this nation’s founding, the formal rule of law ideal in the U.S. means that laws are supreme and apply both to the rulers and the ruled. As a safeguard to protect the ideal, all laws and lawmakers should meet constitutional safeguards at a minimum. To prevent politicians from picking winners and losers, laws should have the stabilizing attributes of “generality,” “certainty” and “equality of application.”

What most people do not know is that Barack Obama learned how to undermine the traditional rule of law ideal at Harvard. His march to undermine the rule of law – which has brought with it the uncertainty and stagnation we now take for granted in our personal or business decisions – has been on full display for the last four years. If he’s reelected, it will only get worse.

Obamacare is a glaring example. This law makes end runs around the rule of law with draconian cradle-to-grave domination and increased costs and taxes built on a class-warfare foundation. The adminstration's virtual takeover of the auto industry, which arbitrarily pushed aside its bondholders in favor of the United Auto Workers, adds to the narrative of a government that mocks the laws of bankruptcy. And think of the presidential fiat that deep-sixed the Keystone XL pipeline, resulting in potentially thousands of lost jobs. Think also of Obama’s National Labor Relations Board that arbitrarily blocked Boeing from building a plant in South Carolina, a “right to work” state. Also, Obama simply ignored federal immigration law when he used executive authority in June to defer deportation of up to 1.7 million young illegal immigrants, effectively passing the DREAM Act, which had failed in Congress.

Without question, your wallet will lose in an Obama second term. Our national debt is now over $16 trillion and climbing. The confiscatory taxation that goes along with picking winners and losers in a rule-of-law-challenged welfare state will surely grind our country’s economy to a near halt before 2016. As MIT researchers have found, based on a panel of over 80 countries, this is the prescription for becoming a second-class nation. On government policies, MIT’s research proves that Obama could not be more wrong. Contrary to Obama’s view, the MIT data concluded that “Better maintenance of the rule of law … and less government spending and the associated taxation … are key determinants of economic growth.”

The Heritage Foundation’s 2012 Index of Economic Freedom study unequivocally confirms the MIT findings. As Heritage tells us, “the “rule of law” and “limited government” are key components of economic growth and prosperity.

Finally, we can only conclude that America's seemingly unsolvable problems – skyrocketing debt, high unemployment, tax class-warfare, and a pitiful housing market – have either been caused or exacerbated by Obama's disregard for the rule of law. When Obama no longer has to worry about reelection, things will only get worse in a second term.

If voters choose to once again make this country a “government of laws” over the cult of personality, all is not lost. Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan showed us that limited government based on rule of law principles can make a sick economy thrive again.



How republics fall

The Fourth Estate’s degrading hero worship trivializes an election

The weird ecstasy of the media-political complex at the convention in Charlotte last month was the first sign that its attachment to President Obama, always fawning, had become morbid.

In spite of the anemic economy and a real unemployment rate above 11 percent, the high priests of pontificating liberalism were giddy with euphoria. The Democrats “put on a nearly flawless convention,” Paul Begala opined, and it was soon all but incontrovertibly established that, come November, the president — beautiful, magical, and lovable as he was — would vanquish his boring opponent.

The media savants sympathized with the delirium of Charlotte because they worship at the same altar and feed at the same trough. Two and a half centuries ago Edmund Burke said the reporters’ gallery in Parliament was an estate “more important far than” the other three put together. Today America’s Fourth Estate is not merely predisposed, as it has been for generations, to favor a particular political party: It is deeply engaged in the hero worship of a particular political leader.

The closeness of mainstream journalists to President Obama has debauched their integrity. Some of them give the White House veto authority over their stories. Others look to be rewarded with plum jobs or stimulus-funded ads. This abasement before power presages a return to a time when political writers, among them Swift and Defoe, were the professed protégés of statesmen and relied on Whig or Tory patronage for their bread; it also leaves the country vulnerable to the distortions of ostensibly neutral journalists who are too fervently committed to the leader to tell the truth about him.

Obama worship, once the quaint foible of Grub Street liberalism, has become its opium, perhaps its bath salts. The unhinged quality of its analysis was painfully evident during the interval of bounce-talk that followed Charlotte. When, after days of media cheerleading, Obama rose modestly in the polls, the acolytes instantly sounded the death knell for Romney. The election was all but over, the princes of palaver declared. Time’s Mark Halperin spoke of the Romney campaign’s “death stench,” and MSNBC’s Steve Benan said that the president was now “exactly where he wants to be.”

Would a less prejudiced observer claim that the president was exactly where he wanted to be in early September, with a credit downgrade looming, a miserable jobs report on the wires, and a strike by Chicago schoolteachers trash-talking the generous, even lavish deal they had been offered, the kind of deluxe package that induced liberal Wisconsin to rise in revolt against public-sector irresponsibility?

Then came Cairo and, still more terribly, Benghazi. The “Gang of 500,” as Halperin styles the bigwigs with whom he shares the liberal soapbox, was duly outraged . . . by Mitt Romney. The Republican nominee had the lèse-majesté to criticize Obama’s foreign policy.

The president’s own statement on Benghazi, which he delivered in the Rose Garden before departing for a campaign event in Las Vegas, went largely unscrutinized by the media gang: “Libyans helped some of our diplomats find safety, and they carried Ambassador Stevens’s body to the hospital, where we tragically learned that he had died.”

The president’s air of certainty contrasted sharply with the reticence of his underlings. The State Department has consistently said it does not know what happened to Ambassador Stevens that night, and grim photographs cast doubt on the notion that he had been innocently conveyed from the bloody scene.

The Beltway clerisy failed to ask the obvious question: Was the president’s version of his emissary’s death a self-serving attempt to salvage a failing foreign policy? Three years ago Obama went to Cairo “to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.” Should we learn that the men in the Benghazi photographs were not good Samaritans generously carrying an American to safety but thugs snapping trophy pictures of a Yankee infidel, Obama’s “new beginning,” if it came at all, will not have made much of a difference. The “new” Middle East in which American diplomats are abused and murdered and black flags fly over American embassies may prove to look a lot like the Old Middle East.

Which raises another question: If the administration’s Islamic policy has failed to pacify Islam and “make us safer,” why didn’t the president act forcefully in the months preceding the tragedy to protect American diplomats? Yet other than the British Independent and Matt Drudge, no big journalistic enterprise pressed for an explanation. Rather than probe the most devastating assault on the diplomatic corps since 1979, the media-political complex blithely turned its collective attention to happier matters, among them the president’s rising poll numbers in the swing states.

Like the decadents of France’s ancien régime, the liberal literati of mainstream journalism are convinced that the party will go on forever. Islamic zealots can be talked out of making nuclear bombs; stagnant growth and high unemployment can be counteracted with a Caesarian policy of bread and shows, free food and even free cell phones; a moribund economy can be propped up with the saline drip of Ben Bernanke’s liquidity transfusions.

As detached from reality as Marie Antoinette milking cows with Sèvres buckets, liberal journalists fail to grapple in any serious way with the “crisis of liberalism” at home and abroad, preferring instead to compose billets-doux to Barack praising his basketball prowess and panegyrics on Michelle’s dexterity as a horticulturalist....



My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

They're still lying with statistics

In 1954 Darrell Huff wrote a book called "How to lie with statistics". It is well-known and has often been used as an introductory college textbook. The point of the book was of course to alert people to statistical skullduggery so that they were not deceived by it.

But even though it sold a lot of copies the book has been an almost complete failure. In most academic fields where statistics are used (e.g. medical research, psychological research, climate research) statistics are still routinely misused. I spent 20 years getting papers published in the academic journals of the social sciences pointing out the defective reasoning in other articles in my field and, more recently, my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog has tackled the outlandish conclusions that prevail in much of medical research. It's all a very sad tale. A lot of so-called "science" is basically corrupt.

So I would very much like readers to take the time to listen to a breezy video below by statistican W.M. Briggs in which he gives examples of corrupt statistical reasoning from psychological, medical and environmental research.

And the lesson from the above? Don't accept ANY scientific statement until you have seen what people say who don't agree with that statement. Corrupt science is so common that the odds are that the critics will be right.

So why is statistically-based science so corrupt? Briggs gives you some answers but I will give you another one that you may not see elsewhere: Most users of statistics are Left-leaning academics and for them "There is no such thing as truth". There is however a desperate need for them to defend their ideology. Their egos depend on it.

Even medical science has become heavily politicized with the "war on obesity" and the general elitist view of the Left that anything popular is either wrong or bad for you (cue cellphones).


The Media's Rape of Reality

I didn’t want to write this column. I definitely didn’t want to use these words. I wanted to write about something else, but after the events of this week, I had no choice.

I am here to report a rape. To protect President Obama from the failure of his administration to anticipate or respond appropriately to the attacks on our embassies in the Middle East, the media has absolutely raped the truth.

Americans were targeted and murdered by radical monsters around the globe. The president did nothing about it. The White House had at least a 48-hour advance warning this was coming. It told no one. It didn’t warn the diplomats or increase security at the embassies. It didn’t warn the complicit governments – and they are as involved in this as the mobs and murderers themselves – of potential consequences.

And when the attacks were over? The president took all of one hour of out of his busy fundraising/campaign schedule to address this matter. Then, it was off to Las Vegas and back to his rich friends to shake the money maker.

Let me be clear, every drop of blood spilled by Americans as a result of the actions of these monsters drips through the hands of this administration before it hits the ground.

There’s no need to recount the story now, except to say the president, the secretary of state and their auditioning second-term press secretaries in the media burnt more calories this week attacking an American in California for exercising his First Amendment right to free speech than they did condemning the murderous mobs or their enablers in their respective governments.

Whatever outrage they had leftover was reserved for Mitt Romney for committing the unforgivable sin of standing up for American values in the face of terrorism and speaking out against it hours before the President did. That the President’s campaign attacked Romney for standing up for American values a full 8 hours before the President condemned the attacks on and murder of Americans isn’t a story.

Until a better word is invented, disgusting will have to do.

Within 48 hours of the first attacks the Justice Department had tracked down the filmmaker and leaked his name to the media. The media dutifully reported it as if they’d found an escaped Nazi. Of course that analogy doesn’t fit perfectly as escaped Nazi are granted the presumption of innocence.

After all, all the filmmaker did was make a bad movie despotic governments we helped empower could use to incite rioting and direct the anger away from their own incompetence and toward the greatest force for freedom the world has ever known. Through state controlled media, they played this unknown video endlessly and spread it throughout the region. All the while, our President skipped nearly 60 percent his national security briefings. Turns out maybe you can’t get by on the Cliff notes on those briefings. Maybe you do have to show up.

But Mitt Romney spoke first, and that was the story the media covered.

It made little mention of how the Justice Department found and outed the anonymous American supposedly “responsible” for all this in just two days but, after looking for two years, still can’t find out who authorized Fast And Furious within their own ranks. It found no fault with the president returning to his real duties – campaigning and fundraising – after he’d devoted just an hour to the most significant security threat of his administration. Had a fiction writer scripted the media’s coverage even they wouldn’t have had the nerve to be so brazen as to attempt something so corrupt.

Now, the violence is spreading, and the president has no idea how to react. He’s sinking in concrete, campaigning and fundraising while the Middle East burns. But he thinks Mitt Romney spoke too soon? That’s it somehow a gaffe that Romney grasped the implications and the outrage of the situation a full workday before the president could be bothered even to release a statement? That’s somehow a Romney gaffe, but the President being uncertain if Egypt is our ally or not barely registers?

President Obama has learned well from great propagandists in the past: When the chips are down, invent a phony outrage to distract the public.

Follow the pattern:

As more stories of violence and dismissed warnings come in, more criticism of Romney comes out.

As our credit is downgraded again, more criticism of Romney comes out.

As the Federal Reserve announces plans to print $40 billion a month in a third attempt at “quantitative easing” to right the president’s broken economy, more criticism of Romney comes out.

No matter what happens, no matter how detached our president gets from the job he seeks to keep for four more years … no matter how many people die…we still haven’t seen enough of Mitt Romney’s tax returns.

That’s how sick the media has gotten.

Does the president defend our freedom? No. He asks YouTube to review the video to see if it violates the user agreement and can be taken down. Isn’t it amazing how the first instinct of liberals in any situation is to lionize extremists abroad and censor our speech at home? YouTube, showing a strong commitment to the Constitution than the man who swore an oath to “preserve, protect and defend” it, said it wouldn’t remove this horribly produced and acted Z-movie. Good for them standing up for the First Amendment. Bad for the media for trying to re-elect a man who turns his back on the very principle that protects its very existence.

The president has not acted like a president in this crisis, he’s acted more like a spoiled child told for the first time to eat his vegetables. Everything else he’s faced in office – abysmal economic data, the 2010 election, the unpopularity of his actions and policies – could be spun or somehow parsed to create whatever new data-metric reality he wanted because his media mouthpieces were only too happy to spread it.

But those events didn’t have smoke, fire, video and a body count the world can’t easily ignore.

The media’s spin will work on idiots, but the rape of reality can’t and won’t work on anyone with more IQ points than teeth. People, Americans, YOU, need to spend time every day between now and the election talking to anyone with at least one working ear who hasn’t yet decided how to vote and explain to them what is really happening. Donating money is great. Planning to vote yourself is key. But spreading the word to those open to hearing it and making sure they cast an educated vote is crucial.

Democrats don’t want voters to be educated or informed … thus the fight over voter ID laws. They want you to eat your gruel, take your medicine and re-elect the president because he knows more about what’s better for you than you do. With so many Americans now suckling the government teat, that easy message has a receptive and large audience. We have to be larger this November or our nation surely will be smaller in the future.



With Obama policy crumbling, White House blames movie for Mideast unrest

With anti-American demonstrations exploding across the Muslim world, the White House is insisting that the deadly attack on U.S. diplomats in Libya and violent protests targeting U.S. facilities in Egypt and several other countries are entirely the result of an anti-Islamic video on YouTube.

Why would the White House heap blame on the movie — indeed, insist that it is the sole cause of the violence — when officials don’t actually know that to be true? There are, perhaps, two reasons. One is that the administration has put an enormous amount of faith in the idea that Arab Spring uprisings will lead to democracy in much of the Middle East. Current events suggest that faith might be misplaced. For the administration, blaming the movie is easier than admitting they were wrong about something so big and important.

The second reason is that Barack Obama has based much of his approach to Middle Eastern affairs on what he perceives as his own unique ability to reach out to Muslims. The entire point of the president’s June 2009 speech to the Muslim world, delivered in Cairo — the same city where protesters are condemning the United States today — was that Obama’s life story allowed him to understand the Muslim experience in a way that previous American leaders could not. The fact that he spent part of his childhood in a Muslim country (Indonesia) and had many family members who were Muslim, the president apparently believed, would make many previously hostile Muslims somehow like the United States more.

It didn’t. So now, with anger at the U.S. burning throughout the region — and showing on Americans’ wide-screen TVs — it’s easier for the administration to blame the movie than to admit the president’s personal initiative failed.



Why Do Swedes in America Earn Far More than Swedes in Sweden?

Sweden is a good example of a nation that has implemented some good reforms in recent years, such as school choice and partial Social Security privatization.

But I argue that these good reforms don’t fully offset the damage caused by excessive government spending. And now I have a new – and very pointy – arrow in my argumentative quiver. A study from the London-based Institute for Economic Affairs has found that Swedes in America earn significantly more money than Swedes in Sweden.

Here are a couple of excerpts from the IEA study.

"The 4.4 million or so Americans with Swedish origins are considerably richer than average Americans, as are other immigrant groups from Scandinavia. If Americans with Swedish ancestry were to form their own country, their per capita GDP would be $56,900, more than $10,000 above the income of the average American. This is also far above Swedish GDP per capita, at $36,600. Swedes living in the USA are thus approximately 53 per cent more wealthy than Swedes (excluding immigrants) in their native country (OECD, 2009; US Census database). It should be noted that those Swedes who migrated to the USA, predominately in the nineteenth century, were anything but the elite. Rather, it was often those escaping poverty and famine. …A Scandinavian economist once said to Milton Friedman, ‘In Scandinavia, we have no poverty’. Milton Friedman replied, ‘That’s interesting, because in America, among Scandinavians, we have no poverty, either’. Indeed, the poverty rate for Americans with Swedish ancestry is only 6.7 per cent: half the US average (US Census)".

This is remarkable information, and it reminds me that Thomas Sowell had similar stats for other groups in his great book, Ethnic America.

I’m not familiar with the methodological issues involved in this type of research, but is certainly seems like this is a good way of getting apples-to-apples comparisons of different economic systems.

Like many other people, I’ve argued that the success of the overseas Chinese community (compared to their counterparts stuck in Communist China) is a damning indictment of statism.

Now we see that Swedes do reasonably well when living in a country with a big welfare state, but they do even better when living in a nation with a medium-sized welfare state.

So you can imagine how prosperous they would be if a bunch of Swedes lived in places such as Hong Kong and Singapore!



New Woodward book shows how Obama made it worse

Bob Woodward knows a failed president when he sees one. The man who was instrumental in bringing down Richard Nixon has now covered eight presidents for the Washington Post while writing more than a dozen books about them.

Which is what makes the final verdict he renders on President Obama in his new book, "The Price of Politics," so damning. Woodward writes, "It is a fact that President Obama was handed a miserable, faltering economy and faced a recalcitrant Republican opposition. But presidents work their will -- or should work their will -- on the important matters of national business. ... Obama has not."

Over the course of almost 450 pages, Woodward depicts Obama as an arrogant, aloof and hyperpartisan president who manages to either alienate or disappoint everybody he needs to help govern Washington.

As a result of Obama's bumbling, Woodward concludes, "The mission of stabilizing and improving the economy is incomplete. First, the short-term federal fiscal problem has not been solved. Instead it has been pushed off to the future, leaving the United States facing what is now called the fiscal cliff. ... Second, the long-term problem of unsustainable entitlement spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, highlighted by Republican House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and familiar to all informed politicians and economists including the president ... has been left largely unaddressed."

"Americans are now left with a still struggling economy in the midst of a presidential election," Woodward writes. "It is a world of the status quo, only worse."

"The status quo, only worse." What a perfect description of the Obama presidency. It even fits on a bumper sticker.


There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


Monday, September 17, 2012

The Lord's supper

The Lord's supper is a central event in Christian life. Just about all Christian denominations commemorate it at Easter (though the Eastern Orthodox are a bit pesky about when Easter is) and, in the form of the Mass, devout Catholics can commemorate it every day if they wish.

So where does Christian practice in the matter come from? Is it Biblical? Sort of. Below are the commandments concerning it in the Bible.

Mark 14
[22] And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.
[23] And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it.
[24] And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.
[25] Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

Matthew 26
[26] And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
[27] And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
[28] For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
[29] But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.

Luke 22
[14] And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.
[15] And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:
[16] For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
[17] And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:
[18] For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
[19] And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
[20] Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

1 Corinthians 11
[20] When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.
[21] For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
[22] What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.
[23] For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
[24] And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
[25] After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
[26] For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
[27] Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
[28] But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
[29] For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
[30] For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
[31] For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
[32] But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
[33] Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.
[34] And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.

"This do in remembrance of me" is pretty plain but at the risk of sounding like Bill Clinton, I want to ask what "This" is. Was it not a Passover celebration and is it not a special celebration of the Passover that Jesus commanded? I think any Christian who was careful to obey Christ's commands would do so by observing the Passover. You can draw other inferences about what "This" is but why run the risk of getting it wrong?

Against that proposition, however, we have the account of early Christian practice from Paul in Corinthians. Theologians claim that it describes a celebration that went on whenever there were meetings of the original congregations. So it was much more frequent than the Passover, which is annual.

To me that seems however totally perverse. Paul starts out saying that "When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper". How plain can you be? Paul is saying exactly the opposite of what the theologians claim. Apparently, there was a custom of a communal meal at meetings of the early Christian congregations and Paul is CONDEMNING that. He says it defiles the SACRED meal of the Lord's supper. Read the passage with that understanding and see if it makes sense. To me it seems the only way to get a straightforward meaning out of it. Theologians really have to twist themselves into a pretzel to get their meaning out of it, particularly in the light of verse 20.

So the whole of Christian practice in the matter seems fundamentally flawed to me. And from that flow other perverse responses to Christ's command. The "this" that he commanded was a meal around some sort of table, probably where the meal was taken in the form of a Greek symposium -- that is, where the diners were reclining rather than sitting up straight. I gather that a Pesach seder in some Jewish circles is still done that way. Be that as it may, however, there was certainly no kneeling or standing involved, unlike common Christian practice.

And perhaps it's a minor point of detail but the passing out of the bread and the wine were two quite separate events with a separate prayer before each. That too seems to be unknown in Christian practice.

And I won't go on about the wafers, grapejuice etc. which various Christian denominations substitute for the perfectly straightforward unleavened bread and wine. Why are they so disrespectlful of their proclaimed Lord? The connection between Christianity and the Bible gets very slender at times.

So there is only one commemoration that Christ commanded -- not Easter and not Christmas -- and Christians bungle that. But I guess their Lord is merciful. It is a good thing that the Christian god is not as demanding as Yahveh, though. Religious Jews have a much tougher time than Christians.


Judge rejects detention without trial

Shocking that this ever came to court. Huge arrogance in Obama's DOJ revealed

The Obama administration is battling to restore a controversial provision of a new federal law that it admits could have been used to arrest and detain citizens indefinitely – even if their actions were protected by the First Amendment.

A federal judge this week made permanent an injunction against enforcement of Section 1021 of the most recent National Defense Authorization Act, which was declared unconstitutional.

The Obama administration then took only hours to file an appeal of the order from U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest, and attorneys also asked her to halt enforcement of her order.

In her order, Forrest wrote, “The government put forth the qualified position that plaintiffs’ particular activities, as described at the hearing, if described accurately, if they were independent, and without more, would not subject plaintiffs to military detention under Section 1021.”

But she continued, “The government did not – and does not – generally agree or anywhere argue that activities protected by the First Amendment could not subject an individual to indefinite military detention under Section 1021.”

The case was brought last January by a number of writers and reporters, led by New York Times reporter Christopher Hedges. The journalists contend the controversial section allows for detention of citizens and residents taken into custody in the U.S. on “suspicion of providing substantial support” to anyone engaged in hostilities against the U.S.

The lawsuit alleges the law is vague and could be read to authorize the arrest and detention of people whose speech or associations are protected by the First Amendment. They wonder whether interviewing a member of al-Qaida would be considered “substantial support.”

“Here, the stakes get no higher: indefinite military detention – potential detention during a war on terrorism that is not expected to end in the foreseeable future, if ever. The Constitution requires specificity – and that specificity is absent from Section 1021,” the judge wrote.

Dan Johnson, a spokesman with People Against the NDAA, told WND it took only hours for the government to file an appeal to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. “It most definitely tells us something about their intent,” he told WND.

He cited Obama’s signing statement, when the bill was made law, that he would not use the provision allowing detention of American citizens without probable cause in military facilities. “Just because someone says something doesn’t mean they’re not lying,” he said.

Bloomberg reports the Obama administration also is asking Forrest for a stay of the ruling that found the law violates the First, Fifth and 14th Amendments.

The judge expressed dissatisfaction with what one observer described as the arrogance of the Department of Justice in the case.

Forrest asked the government to define the legal term, noting the importance of how they apply to reporting and other duties. “The court repeatedly asked the government whether those particular past activities could subject plaintiffs to indefinite military detention; the government refused to answer,” she wrote.

“The Constitution places affirmative limits on the power of the executive to act, and these limits apply in times of peace as well as times of war,” she wrote.

She said the law “impermissibly impinges on guaranteed First Amendment rights and lacks sufficient definitional structure and protection to meet the requirements of due process.”

“This court rejects the government’s suggestion that American citizens can be placed in military detention indefinitely, for acts they could not predict might subject them to detention, and have as their sole remedy a habeas petition adjudicated by a single decision-maker (a judge versus a jury), by a ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standard,” she wrote. “That scenario dispenses with a number of guaranteed rights,” she said.

The Obama administration already has described those who hold a pro-life position or support third-party presidential candidates or the Second Amendment fit the profile of a domestic terrorist.

Obama stated when he put his signature to the legislative plan that his administration “will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.”

Virginia already has passed a law that states it would not cooperate with such detentions, and several local jurisdictions have done the same. Arizona, Rhode Island, Maryland, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Washington also have considered similar legislation.



Don't Misplace Blame for Middle Eastern Mayhem

Jonah Goldberg

An incendiary video about the prophet Muhammad, "Innocence of Muslims," was blamed for the mob attacks on our embassies in Libya and Egypt (and later, Yemen). In Libya, Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were murdered. The video stirred some passion here in America as well.

Over at MSNBC a riot of consensus broke out when contributors Mike Barnicle and Donny Deutsch as well as University of Pennsylvania professor Anthea Butler all agreed that the people behind the video should be indicted as accessories to murder. "Good Morning," declared Butler, "How soon is Sam Bacile [the alleged creator of the film] going to be in jail folks? I need him to go now."

Barnicle set his sights on Terry Jones, the pastor who wanted to burn the Koran a while back and who was allegedly involved in the video as well. "Given this supposed minister's role in last year's riots in Afghanistan, where people died, and given his apparent or his alleged role in this film, where ... at least one American, perhaps the American ambassador is dead, it might be time for the Department of Justice to start viewing his role as an accessory before or after the fact."

Deutsch helpfully added: "I was thinking the same thing, yeah."

It's interesting to see such committed liberals in lockstep agreement with the Islamist government in Egypt, which implored the U.S. government to take legal action against the filmmakers. Interestingly, not even the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Egyptian government demanded these men be tried for murder.

Now, I have next to no sympathy for the makers of this film, who clearly hoped to start trouble, violent or otherwise. But where does this logic end? One of the things we've learned all too well is that the "Muslim street" -- and often Muslim elites -- have a near-limitless capacity to take offense at slights to their religion, honor, history or feelings.

Does Barnicle want Salman Rushdie, the author of "The Satanic Verses," charged with attempted murder, too? That book has in one way or another led to several deaths. Surely he should have known that he was stirring up trouble. Perhaps the U.S. Justice Department and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security could work together on a joint prosecution?

Perhaps Rushdie's offense doesn't count because he's a literary celebrity? Only crude attacks on Islam should be held accountable for the murderous bloodlust they elicit.

One might ask who is to decide what is crude and what is refined? But that would be fruitless because we know the real answer: the Islamist mobs and their leaders. Their rulings would come in the form of bloody conniptions around the world.

Are we really going to hold what we can say or do in our own country hostage to the passions of foreign lynch mobs?

If your answer is some of form of "yes," than you might want to explain why U.S. citizens aren't justified in attacking Egyptian or Libyan embassies here in America. After all, I get pretty mad when I see goons burning the American flag, and I become downright livid when a U.S. ambassador is murdered. Maybe me and some of my like-minded friends should burn down some embassies here in Washington, D.C., or maybe a consulate in New York City?

Of course we shouldn't do that. To argue that Americans shouldn't resort to mayhem, while suggesting it's understandable when Muslims do, is to create a double standard that either renders Muslims unaccountable savages (they can't help themselves!) or casts Americans as somehow less passionate about what we hold dear, be it our flag, our diplomats or our religions. (It's hardly as if Islamists don't defame Christianity, Judaism, moderate forms of Islam or even atheism.)

But, I'm sorry to say, that may in fact be the case. After all, with barely a moment's thought these deep thinkers on MSNBC were willing to throw out the First Amendment for a little revenge. It was a moment of voluntary surrender to terrorism.

Within 24 hours, however, it became increasingly clear that the video wasn't even the motive for the murders; it was a convenient cover for them. In effect, the terrorists behind the Libyan attack not only successfully played the Muslim street for suckers, they played Barnicle & Co. for suckers, too.



Another vicious Federal bureaucracy

Lance Armstrong, one of the greatest endurance athletes of modern times, who won the grueling Tour de France bicycle race a record seven consecutive times from 1995 to 2005, has been stripped of all awards and prizes he won during his storied cycling career. The reason for these harsh sanctions against Armstrong was a finding by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that the athlete had used illicit, performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career. Yet, because of its status as unaccountable regulatory power, the USADA never had to prove its case against Armstrong.

Armstrong's unprecedented fall from grace has precipitated much gloating and smug cries of "we told you so" from the many jealous detractors his success inspired over the years. However, the manner in which the USADA conducted its prosecution of this athlete, should give serious pause to all Americans who believe fundamental fairness and basic due process should precede stripping a person of their career, their reputation, and their financial resources.

The USADA's actions also should precipitate action by the Congress, which annually appropriates $10 million taxpayer dollars for the Agency's operations -- operations which permit a small group of unelected, unaccountable men and women to investigate and punish athletes within its questionable jurisdiction, without so much as a passing tip of the hat to fairness or due process.

As a lawyer whose practice includes litigating cases in court, I rely on well-established rules of procedure to ensure fundamental fairness, so that both sides have a more-or-less equal opportunity to uncover and present evidence in behalf of their clients. Those procedures -- monitored and enforced by judges either elected or appointed as objective and uninterested umpires -- also permit both sides robust opportunity to challenge and test the credibility and strength of the other's witnesses and evidence. We inherited such procedures from Great Britain during the colonial era, and our Founding Fathers strengthened and enshrined them in our Constitution. Our Liberty rests on their continued viability.

But not for athletes subject to regulation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, as outlined in depth in papers filed with the federal court by Bob Luskin, one of Armstrong's attorneys.

In the world as defined by, and in which the USADA operates (with the official imprimatur of the U.S. government since 2000), the deck is stacked heavily in favor of USADA and against the unfortunate athlete who finds himself in its regulatory crosshairs. In fact, there is so little room for the defendant-athlete to maneuver, that it is virtually impossible for any such individual to enjoy even a slim chance of defeating a USADA charge. Thus the recent decision by Armstrong to end his challenge to the charges against him by this rogue regulatory agency.

Unlike the real world, in which a person charged with an offense enjoys at least a fighting chance to defend themselves, a defendant facing USADA-defined charges essentially is presumed guilty unless he or she can prove the drug testing on which USADA based its indictment was faulty. That might sound like a manageable task, until one considers that the athlete has no real opportunity to test the evidence available to USADA, and cannot conduct any meaningful discovery to prepare and present a defense as they certainly would in a real legal proceeding.

Moreover, as in Armstrong's case, despite having been tested between 500 and 600 times -- both random and scheduled -- and never having failed a single USADA-sanctioned test for illicit substances, he still faced fatal sanctions. The actions which led to Armstrong being stripped of more than a decade of hard-won accolades that placed him at the pinnacle of world cycling, were based not on scientific tests, but on allegations leveled against him by others, including cyclists he beat over the years.

The manner in which Armstrong has been subject to a regulatory witch-burning is a disgrace to any notion of fairness or due process; and it ill-serves either the cycling profession or the American legal system.

Insofar as USADA operates with the blessing of the Congress and under the nominal supervision of the White House "Drug Czar," and considering the un-American manner in which it conducts its business, it is high time the Congress moves to revoke its charter and halt its access to American taxpayer dollars.



My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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