"Lumen Fidei" (light of faith) is the first encyclical of Pope Francis, though Francis admits that it was mostly written by Benedict, his predecessor. And in my usual eccentric way I used part of my secular Sabbath to read it.
There is no doubt we encounter the mind of a real scholar in it. He actually mentions the name of God (YHWH) as given in the Hebrew Bible -- which is bordering on the eccentric in both the Christian and Jewish traditions. It would appear however to be what YHWH himself wanted according to Psalms 83:18 ("That men may know that thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth" KJV) and other OT passages. That the commandment to respect YHWH's name is taken to require suppression of it is incredibly perverse and would certainly make YHWH throw up his hands if he had any hands.
And Benedict's attempt to reconcile a Septuagint rendering of Isaiah with the Masoretic version is surely heroic, given the obvious divergence. But the fact that he refers to the Septuagint at all is impressive. There is a view that the Septuagint -- or at least part of it -- is based on a text older than the Masoretic version and may hence be closer to the original.
But despite such flashes of unusual scholarship, the encyclical as a whole is quite unoriginal. Perhaps an encyclical has to be that way. The encyclical is a very thorough survey of past and present enthusiasm about faith and that is about it. But that may enthuse others more than it does this hard-hearted old atheist.
Rep. Paul Ryan: 'We Have an Increasingly Lawless Presidency'
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopolous” that President Barack Obama’s presidency is becoming “increasingly lawless,” because the president is “actually contradicting law” or “proposing new laws without going through Congress."
“We have an increasingly lawless presidency where he is actually doing the job of Congress, writing new policies and new laws without going through Congress,” Ryan said. “Presidents don't write laws. Congress does, and when he does things like he did in health care - delaying mandates that the law said was supposed to occur when they were supposed to occur, that's not his job.”
“The job of Congress is to change laws if he doesn't like them - not the presidency. So executive orders are one thing, but executive orders that actually change the statute, that's totally different,” Ryan said.
Stephanopolous asked Ryan if he really thought Obama’s proposals are unconstitutional, pointing out that the rate of the president’s executive orders is far behind Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton.
According to the National Archives Federal Register, Obama has signed 167 executive orders as of Dec. 23, 2013. President George W. Bush signed 291 executive orders, and his father, President George H.W. Bush signed 166 executive orders. President Bill Clinton signed 364 executive orders.
“It's not the number of executive orders. It's the scope of the executive orders," said Ryan. "It's the fact that he's actually contradicting law like in the health care case, or proposing new laws without going through Congress, George. That's the issue. So this is a big concern. We have an increasingly lawless presidency."
RNC Launches Black History Push
Liberty is colorblind
The Republican National Committee has launched a Black History Month ad campaign that also honors recipients of this year's Black Republican Trailblazers Awards. The RNC has made minority outreach a priority after the 2012 election, recognizing that Republicans have ceded far too much ground to Democrats when it comes to engaging minority voters. Democrats have won and held the loyalty of black voters over the last several decades by claiming to offer them opportunities while holding them in an endless cycle of government dependency - the poverty plantation, if you will.
The fact that Democrats hold such an overwhelming majority of black votes year in and year out represents a sad historical irony. The Republican Party was founded in 1856 with an anti-slavery platform, and it was Republican votes that added the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. Jim Crow was a Southern Democratic invention, and for decades it was Democrats who stymied the advancement of civil rights legislation. Yet, leftist propaganda would have us believe that the GOP has a long history of racism. Just the opposite is true. Democrat President Lyndon Johnson may have been behind the push to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but he was also responsible for creating welfare programs that have not done anything to improve the lives of minorities - and arguably the opposite - for over 60 years.
Yet the GOP has a lot of work to do to reverse this long-entrenched lie that is perpetuated by the Leftmedia. They can start by communicating the real history of the Republican Party, and explain that the GOP platform is actually in the best interest of everyone, including minorities. Blacks embrace Democrats because they have been led to believe there is no alternative but state dependence. It's up to the GOP to spread the word that opportunity comes from personal responsibility and Liberty, not government subsidies.
Democrats have very successfully politicized race, making it an issue of conflict in electoral politics. But all people deserve freedom of opportunity, and Republicans need to push that message. After all, as Mark Alexander wrote Wednesday, Liberty is colorblind.
Leftwing antisemitism: So what else is new?
A politician from the main opposition party in Greece caused an uproar after posting an anti-Semitic rant on his Facebook page accusing the Greek prime minister of heading a Jewish conspiracy.
Theodoros Karypidis, the left-wing Syriza Party's candidate for governor of Western Macedonia, said Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was at the head of a Jewish plot to visit "a new Hanukkah against the Greeks."
At the heart of Karypidis' theory was a move last year by Samaras to shut the allegedly corrupt Hellenic Broadcasting Authority and replace it with the New Hellenic Radio and Television, known by its Greek acronym NERIT.
According to Karypidis, NERIT is derived from the Hebrew word for candle, "ner," which he links to the festival of Hanukkah.
"Samaras is lighting the candles in the seven branched candelabra of the Jews and lighting Greece on fire after his visit to the Thessaloniki Synagogue," wrote Karypidis. "He is organizing a new Hanukkah against the Greeks."
Samaras visited the synagogue as part of the commemorations marking the destruction of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki by the Nazis. A spokesman for Samaras condemned the comments as "unacceptable, racist and anti-Semitic."
Syriza, the second-largest party in Greece, was due to meet Thursday to discuss the issue, the Kathimerini daily newspaper reported.
In recent years most of the anti-Semitic vitriol in Greece has come from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party. But Syriza also has a clear anti-Israel stance. Several of its members took part in the flotilla to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza.
The Greek "Golden Dawn" party is sometimes described as "far right" but that is what Leftists call Fascism. And Golden Dawn is certainly both nationalistic and antisemitic so it deserves to be associated with old Adolf & co. But, like Hitler, Golden Dawn is also socialistic. One of the headings on the Golden Dawn website is "Golden Dawn's socialism". It's just a rival version of socialism, not "right wing" at all -- JR
Lottery winners: More evidence that conservatives are the happy people
After buying a new house, a sports car and going on holiday with their winnings, the next thing people do is support a right-wing party, academics found.
While those who hit the jackpot could be expected to vote for low taxes to protect their money, people who scoop relatively modest sums also become more right-wing, the study revealed.
Researchers at Warwick and Melbourne Universities looked at survey results from 4,000 people from Britain who scooped up to œ200,000 between 1996 and 2009.
They found that among those who won more than œ500 on the lottery, 45 per cent said they vote Conservative. Among those who had not won a prize, just 38 per cent indicated that they supported the Tories. They found that the trend was more pronounced among men than women.
The study, which is the first of its kind, also revealed the larger the win the more people tilt to the right.
The transformation in political views happens quickly - and 18 per cent said they switched to voting Conservative immediately.
Professor Andrew Oswald, from Warwick University, said that on the back of the results he was doubtful that morality was an objective choice.
'In the voting booth, monetary self-interest casts a long shadow, despite people's protestations that there are intellectual reasons for voting for low tax rates,' he said.
None of the people who responded to the survey had won large jackpots.
More fraudulent history from the Left: "I'm not here to attempt to claim that the decision to name the GOP's new digital division Para Bellum Labs was brilliant, and frankly, it would make a better title for our "Guns & Gear" section. What I can tell you is that the knee-jerk leftist reaction to it by Gawker's Adam Weinstein was moronic, as he attempted to claim "Para Bellum" was the creation of Nazism in an article titled The GOP Just Named its Hot New Innovation Lab After a Nazi Pistol. The 9mm Parabellum was not a gun, but a cartridge. The 9mm Parabellum cartridge was designed in 1902. The Nazis didn't exist for another 18 years. It was originally designed for the P08 Luger pistol by Georg Luger himself. Oh, and the standard Nazi pistol was the Walther P38, not the P08 Luger, which was regarded as unreliable"
There, He Fixed It: "A young fry cook lamented to the president that ObamaCare is costing him hours at work. "We were broken down to part time to avoid paying health insurance," he said, adding that he's making $7.25 an hour. He concluded, "We can't survive, it's not living." Obama's cut-and-paste solution? "I am working to encourage states, governors, mayors, [and] state legislators to raise their own minimum wage," Obama said. "Obviously, the way to reach millions of people would be for Congress to pass a new federal minimum wage law." Employers already are addressing increased costs by reducing employee hours, but Obama's "solution" is to make those hours more expensive.
GOP Pulls Back on Immigration: "The House GOP rank-and-file have seemingly succeeded in delaying the leadership's immigration "reform" - at least for the time being. House Speaker John Boehner explained why reform could be shelved: "There's widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws, and it's going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes. . [We] do not believe that the reform that we're talking about will be implemented as it was intended to be. The president seems to change the health care law on a whim, whenever he likes. Now he's running around the country telling everyone that he's going to keep acting on his own." We're hesitant to ascribe savvy strategic thinking to the GOP, but it's possible that they rolled out a reform proposal only to withdraw it while highlighting Obama's untrustworthiness. Then again, rumor has it Boehner's job was on the line, and maybe that's what gave him strategic perspective
'Religion Is Under Threat': "As the saying goes, if it weren't for double standards, the Left wouldn't have any. Barack Obama demonstrated this point to perfection at the annual National Prayer Breakfast where he warned that "freedom of religion is under threat . around the world." He neglected to mention, however, that organizations like Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby are suing his administration because they object to contraceptives mandated under ObamaCare in violation of their religious views. Even more astoundingly, Obama claimed, "We . believe in the inherent dignity of every human being," and "the killing of the innocent is never fulfilling God's will; in fact, it's the ultimate betrayal of God's will." Remember, this is a man who supports abortion under any and all circumstances, even in its most appalling partial-birth form, and who once told Planned Parenthood "God bless you." The seemingly total lack of self-awareness is beyond shocking. [But typically psychopathic -- JR]
One Insurer's Bailout: "Remember that ObamaCare insurance bailout? Well, the first stats are in for one insurer and it's not pretty. The American Enterprise Institute's Scott Gottlieb writes, "Humana announced that it expects to tap the three risk adjustment mechanisms in ObamaCare for between $250 and $450 million in 2014. This amounts to about 25 percent of the insurer's expected exchange revenue." That's also just one insurer! More will undoubtedly follow. Not only that, but Humana enrolled 202,000 people via the ObamaCare exchanges as of Jan. 31, and some 82% of them were eligible for subsidies. The price of Hope 'n' Change just keeps going up.
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up. Chris has been in one of Britain's government hospitals -- getting the sort of appalling treatment that I foresaw. He left waving his fist and shouting abuse at them over the treatment he got. He has a short submission today, with an account of his hospital experiences leading off --JR
For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.
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)