Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Tokugawa Shogunate

My brief note yesterday may have conveyed the impression that I approve of the tyranny of the Tokugawas.  I don't of course.  But the sharply stratified society of Tokugawa Japan was  much the same in Europe.  Both liberties and food security for the common man were very limited in both Europe and Japan.  The difference is that Europeans had to put up a lot of pretty vicious wars on their territory as well.  Life in Japan was at least pretty predictable.  And there was always the "floating world" for those who rose above the peasantry.

Predictability is not everything, however, and it could be argued that the insecurity in Europe was what lay behind the scintillating and eternal works of art that Europe produced at that time:  The work of Bach, Handel, Vivaldi etc.  By comparison, Japan at that time  produced practically nothing cultural that has gained renown outside its own borders -- excepting of course the work of Hokusai


A Christian philosopher

I don't  personally find Plantinga persuasive but his enterprise is certainly a bold one

The world-renowned philosopher Alvin C. Plantinga has recently received the prestigious Nicholas Rescher Prize for Contributions to Systematic Philosophy, awarded by the University of Pittsburgh’s Departments of Philosophy, History, and Philosophy of Science, and the Center for the History and Philosophy of Science. Plantinga is widely known for his work in the philosophy of religion, epistemology, metaphysics and Christian apologetics, and he has revolutionized scholarly interest in Christian theism, shown naturalism/atheism to be self-refuting and incoherent, and set the new standards for the defense of free will, individual agency, consciousness, rational inference, science, objective truth and morality, and more.

As a result, Plantinga has both directly influenced the entire field of philosophy and has mentored and inspired new generations of top scholars who are critiquing the reductionism, relativism, materialism, collectivism, scientism, positivism, determinism, and de-humanization of the modern era. In short, Plantinga has devastated the prevailing view in Western elites that human beings are merely “matter in motion” (i.e., purposeless, accidental, robotic products of a closed, natural world ruled solely by physical laws and that truth, reason, morality, and God are illusions).

Plantinga is the inaugural holder of the Jellema Chair in Philosophy at Calvin College, the John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, and a member of the Board of Advisors for the Center on Culture and Civil Society at the Independent Institute. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale University, he has served as President of the American Philosophical Association (Western Division) and Society of Christian Philosophers, and he has delivered the Gifford Lectures in Scotland three times.

Plantinga’s work is of immense importance to all thinking in epistemology, ethics and economics, especially regarding individual action, entrepreneurship, free markets, civic virtue, and the rule of law. Plantinga has shown that those scholars who attempt to ground reality in naturalism are not just pursuing a futile quest leading to determinism and nihilism but are embracing views that defeat their very intellectual enterprise, including science itself. Unfortunately, many superb classical liberal and libertarian scholars remain unaware of Plantinga’s work and are oblivious of the profound weaknesses in their naturalistic assumptions. In this regard, I authored an earlier, preliminary paper, “Economic Science and the Poverty of Naturalism,” that discusses this dilemma and the crucial value of the critiques of metaphysical naturalism by both C.S. Lewis and Plantinga, especially as this is relevant to the corpus of economic reasoning in the Austrian School, Public Choice and other traditions within what Peter Boettke describes as “mainline economics” in his new Independent Institute book, Living Economics.

For example, Plantinga’s “evolutionary argument against naturalism” brilliantly argues that if evolution is true, it is an epistemic defeater for naturalism, leaving naturalism in ruin. The influential philosopher Thomas Nagel agrees and utilizes Plantinga’s work in his recent book Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False (Oxford University Press). Nagel also recently and favorably reviewed Plantinga’s newest book, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism (Oxford University Press), in the New York Review of Books.

Similarly, Plantinga developed the “Modal Ontological Argument” for the existence of God, drawing on the work of St. Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th century but correcting the argument using modal logic in a more rigorous, formal, and irrefutable way. Here is a video discussion of Plantinga’s Modal Ontological Argument and a further video that refutes objections. Here, here and here are videos that further discuss the argument.

In his book God, Freedom, and Evil (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.), Plantinga’s essay “The Free Will Defense,” with its implicit libertarianism, is accepted today by most philosophers who have come to see the “problem of evil” as having been sufficiently rebutted and showing that free will is necessarily true.



Bloody Hands: The Southern Poverty Law Center

Long before homosexual activist Floyd Corkins entered the D.C.-based Family Research Council (FRC) with the intent to commit mass murder, I warned from the rooftops that the hard-left Southern Poverty Law Center’s anti-Christian “hate group” propaganda might spur such bloodshed. With a column headlined, “Liberal violence rising,” I wrote, “The SPLC’s dangerous and irresponsible (‘hate group’) disinformation campaign can embolden and give license to like-minded, though less stable, left-wing extremists, creating a climate of true hate. Such a climate is ripe for violence.”

Tragically, my deepest fears were realized.

Then, in August, days after Corkins was heroically disarmed by FRC employ Leo Johnson, whom Corkins shot in the arm, I penned another column titled “Fanning the flames of left-wing violence.” I plead with the SPLC to end its “dishonest and reprehensible” strategy of “juxtaposing FRC and other Christian organizations with violent extremist groups” in a transparent effort to marginalize them.

“I appeal to your sense of goodwill. This is not a game. Lives are at stake,” I implored. “I know you have good employees (I’ve met some) who believe they’re doing the right thing; so, please, validate that belief. It’s time to remove your metaphorical ‘hate group’ Star of David from mainstream Christian organizations before another of your ideological allies spills blood.”

I no longer believe the SPLC has a sense of goodwill. In fact, based on FBI evidence and the group’s own actions (and inaction), I and many others are left with no other inference but this: The SPLC – a left-wing extremist fundraising behemoth – may be intentionally inciting anti-Christian violence.

Just days ago, Corkins pled guilty to a number of charges, including domestic terrorism. FBI evidence revealed that he was both motivated by and utilized the SPLC’s “anti-gay hate map” to target and locate his intended Christian mass murder victims.

Further evidence reveals that the “hate map” – more accurately labeled “hit map” – even provided the exact location of FRC and other Christian groups found on Corkins’ hit-list with little red dots to helpfully pinpoint their precise locations.

Corkins told the FBI after the shooting that he intended to “kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-fil-A sandwiches (which he brought with him) in victims’ faces.” Prosecutors said that he planned to leave FRC after the attack and go to another conservative group to continue his reign of terror. A handwritten list of three other groups was found with his belongings while an investigation of Corkins’ computer revealed that he identified his targets on the SPLC website. The other groups were also maliciously listed by the SPLC as “hate groups.”

Motive to kill? Fomented. Who to kill? Provided. Where to kill? Pinpointed, with easy access to driving directions. The only thing the SPLC did not do was purchase Corkins’ gun and drive him to the crime scene.

Here’s why, to my own aghast bewilderment, I’m left with little choice but to believe the SPLC may be intentionally inciting anti-Christian violence. As noted by the FRC, “Even after an attempted mass murder of the FRC staff, the ‘hate map’ is still prominently featured on the SPLC website today – which shocks most conservative pundits.”

“Shocks” is an understatement.

“When Congresswoman Giffords and several others were shot in Arizona by Jared Loughner, the left went into overdrive blaming Sarah Palin for a map that had a list of political targets on it. After the fact, we learned that Loughner was apolitical and he clearly had not used Sarah Palin’s map of political targets. That did not stop the left from blaming the right,” noted RedState’s Erick Erickson. “By the way, Palin took down her target map after the controversy. The Southern Poverty Law Center? Crickets …”

What other explanation is there? I understand that it’s difficult to admit you’re wrong, especially when the scheme seemed so delicious at the time. But once FBI evidence conclusively proves that you were, to a large degree, responsible for inciting an act of domestic terrorism, most reasonable people would take a deep breath, take a step back, admit fault and hobble forward in an effort to rehabilitate a reputation in ruin.

Is the SPLC a left-wing extremist group? Absolutely. Are they anti-Christian? Without a doubt. But few would have believed, until now, that they might intentionally, with malice aforethought, seek to incite anti-Christian bloodshed.

Scandalously, the Obama administration continues to maintain deep ties with this radical organization.

“The Southern Poverty Law Center has a long history of maliciously slandering pro-family groups with language and labels that incite hatred and undermine civil discourse,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. “In the issues of family and marriage, Christians are literally in the crosshairs of radical homosexual activists, and the SPLC is fueling the hatred and providing the targets. The SPLC should be held accountable for its reckless acts. Even more disturbing than the SPLC’s irresponsible behavior is the fact that the Obama administration is in bed with this group,” said Staver.

“It is ironic that Christians who believe in natural marriage have been isolated by radical homosexual activists and demonized as ‘homophobes’ and ‘haters,’” he concluded.

Weeks before Corkins pleaded guilty of terrorism and assault with intent to kill, a study from the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point entitled “Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far Right” said the “violent far right” exhibits an intense fear or dislike of foreign people, “including people with alternative sexual preferences.” The SPLC’s warped view of reality has been adopted by the Obama administration.

“What the SPLC and other homosexual activists are doing is intentional and dangerous,” said Staver. “It is time to end the dangerous rhetoric and resume a civil discourse on the subject of natural marriage and morality.”

Indeed if, God forbid, this SPLC “hate group” propaganda leads to another act of left-wing terrorism like that at FRC, this dangerous group should be held legally – perhaps even criminally liable.

In the meantime, to the media, I say this: If you dare, even for a moment, give any credence whatsoever to this deadly SPLC “hate group” nonsense, you too will have blood on your hands.

SPLC, you’re no longer fooling anyone.

Stop fooling yourselves.



Obamacare: A Beehive of Stings You Weren’t Expecting

Many promises were made to different groups to sell the new healthcare law to a skeptical public. Having watched the medical insurance games–government and private–for my whole career, I thought these promises were too good to be true.

What is coming to light now is like “The Big Con” that Robert Redford’s character skillfully pulled off in the classic movie The Sting. Only the Pelosi-Reid-Obama trio forced through an even bigger “Sting” on the entire country, especially the very constituencies they promised their healthcare law would help.

One by one, the political promises fall like dominoes. The very groups that strongly supported government control of healthcare are now some of the ones getting stung badly. The effects are like a swarm of killer bees suddenly descending on the unsuspecting, stinging everyone in sight.

Our personal New Year’s sting was a 22.5% jump in my husband’s Medicare supplemental premium for the 2013 renewal. Reason: Obamacare regulations and mandates.

Then I received the notices for our employees’ health insurance premiums: more premium increases – even though we have a high deductible, catastrophic illness type plan to help keep costs affordable.

Next, the IRS projected premiums of $20,000 per year for a family of four. Affordable? For whom? This sting is a $3,000 to $5,000 increase instead of the promised $2,500 savings per year—a miscalculation of $5,500 to $7,500 for a family of four.

Large national restaurant chains are cutting employees’ hours because they cannot afford to pay the high health insurance premiums for “fulltime” employees. How can the middle class make ends meet on part-time work?

Liberal groups that overwhelmingly supported Obamacare are also getting stung. Of course, these announcements came after the election, in which these constituent groups supported Obama in droves:

* College students: Before Obamacare, young healthy college students paid average health insurance premiums that only cost $100-600 per year. Obamacare mandates mean that premiums are rising to $1,700 to $2,000 per year. In New Jersey, where health insurance is mandatory for college students, this is indeed a huge sting!

* College faculty: At many universities, faculty hours are being cut back to less than 29 hours a week to avoid the costly Obamacare premiums.

* Union members: the sting of Obamacare has come in many forms, so Big Labor is now seeking waivers for union members.
Smokers: Many who fell for Obama’s promise of “free” or lower cost medical care are learning that their premiums will be 50% higher than nonsmokers –up to $4,250 dollars per year in excess costs for smokers age 55 and older.

* Employers: Paying for all the Obamacare mandates in employer-provided health insurance adds $1.79 to the hourly rate to hire an employee. That’s why many are not hiring.

* Seniors: After the election, seniors are learning that all the promises of “no cutbacks” in their medical care were false.

The Senior Sting is especially ugly. One 80-year-old patient told me his heart medicine was no longer covered, “because I am too old now.” Preventive services and cancer screenings for the older patients, such as prostate and breast cancer checks, are being cut to pay for “free” birth control pills. As of 2012, hospitals are paid more to provide fewer surgeries. Popular and lower cost Medicare Advantage plans are being cut back or eliminated.

Then there is the Medicaid sting: States that are expanding Medicaid plan to cut payments to doctors and hospitals to about 56% of what private insurance companies pay. This means more patients lined up for fewer doctors and hospitals.

And let’s not forget the privacy sting. Your electronic health record will be used to decide what treatments you will be allowed. The IRS will be collecting expanded personal information about your income, habits and family to decide what to sting you on penalties.

In short—old or young, black or white, liberal or conservative—once Obamacare was forced on patients across the country (except Congress and the President)– everyone has gotten The Sting….in the Biggest Con of all.




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