Saturday, April 05, 2014

Whose Side Is God on Now?  Putin?

Pat Buchanan speaks some unpopular truths below, as usual.  I must say I find myself much more at ease with Mr. Putin than with the Western Left.  That could change if some of the dire prophecies about him come true but so far I see a man who proceeds with great caution.  I see nothing wrong with Russian patriotism.  The Russians are a great people -- JR

In his Kremlin defense of Russia's annexation of Crimea, Vladimir Putin, even before he began listing the battles where Russian blood had been shed on Crimean soil, spoke of an older deeper bond.

Crimea, said Putin, "is the location of ancient Khersones, where Prince Vladimir was baptized. His spiritual feat of adopting Orthodoxy predetermined the overall basis of the culture, civilization and human values that unite the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus."

Russia is a Christian country, Putin was saying.

This speech recalls last December's address where the former KGB chief spoke of Russia as standing against a decadent West:

"Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values. Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation."

Heard any Western leader, say, Barack Obama, talk like that lately?

Indicting the "Bolsheviks" who gave away Crimea to Ukraine, Putin declared, "May God judge them."

What is going on here?  With Marxism-Leninism a dead faith, Putin is saying the new ideological struggle is between a debauched West led by the United States and a traditionalist world Russia would be proud to lead.

In the new war of beliefs, Putin is saying, it is Russia that is on God's side. The West is Gomorrah.

Western leaders who compare Putin's annexation of Crimea to Hitler's Anschluss with Austria, who dismiss him as a "KGB thug," who call him "the alleged thief, liar and murderer who rules Russia," as the Wall Street Journal's Holman Jenkins did, believe Putin's claim to stand on higher moral ground is beyond blasphemous.

But Vladimir Putin knows exactly what he is doing, and his new claim has a venerable lineage. The ex-Communist Whittaker Chambers who exposed Alger Hiss as a Soviet spy, was, at the time of his death in 1964, writing a book on "The Third Rome."

The first Rome was the Holy City and seat of Christianity that fell to Odoacer and his barbarians in 476 A.D. The second Rome was Constantinople, Byzantium, (today's Istanbul), which fell to the Turks in 1453. The successor city to Byzantium, the Third Rome, the last Rome to the old believers, was -- Moscow.

Putin is entering a claim that Moscow is the Godly City of today and command post of the counter-reformation against the new paganism.

Putin is plugging into some of the modern world's most powerful currents. Not only in his defiance of what much of the world sees as America's arrogant drive for global hegemony. Not only in his tribal defense of lost Russians left behind when the USSR disintegrated.

He is also tapping into the worldwide revulsion of and resistance to the sewage of a hedonistic secular and social revolution coming out of the West.

In the culture war for the future of mankind, Putin is planting Russia's flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity. His recent speeches carry echoes of John Paul II whose Evangelium Vitae in 1995 excoriated the West for its embrace of a "culture of death."

What did Pope John Paul mean by moral crimes?

The West's capitulation to a sexual revolution of easy divorce, rampant promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality, feminism, abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, assisted suicide -- the displacement of Christian values by Hollywood values.

Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum writes that she was stunned when in Tbilisi to hear a Georgian lawyer declare of the former pro-Western regime of Mikhail Saakashvili, "They were LGBT."

"It was an eye-opening moment," wrote Applebaum. Fear and loathing of the same-sex-marriage pandemic has gone global. In Paris, a million-man Moral Majority marched in angry protest.

Author Martha Gessen, who has written a book on Putin, says of his last two years, "Russia is remaking itself as the leader of the anti-Western world."

But the war to be waged with the West is not with rockets. It is a cultural, social, moral war where Russia's role, in Putin's words, is to "prevent movement backward and downward, into chaotic darkness and a return to a primitive state."

Would that be the "chaotic darkness" and "primitive state" of mankind, before the Light came into the world?

This writer was startled to read in the Jan-Feb. newsletter from the social conservative World Council of Families in Rockford, Ill., that, of the "ten best trends" in the world in 2013, number one was "Russia Emerges as Pro-Family Leader."

In 2013, the Kremlin imposed a ban on homosexual propaganda, a ban on abortion advertising, a ban on abortions after 12 weeks and a ban on sacrilegious insults to religious believers.

"While the other super-powers march to a pagan world-view," writes WCF's Allan Carlson, "Russia is defending Judeo-Christian values. During the Soviet era, Western communists flocked to Moscow. This year, World Congress of Families VII will be held in Moscow, Sept. 10-12."

Will Vladimir Putin give the keynote?  In the new ideological Cold War, whose side is God on now?



Noah COULD have floated his boat, say scientists: Ark really could have coped with two of every animal

The story of a man building a giant wooden boat to help his family and the entire animal kingdom survive a terrifying flood is one of the more contentious parts of the Bible.

But research by physics students suggests that a structure on the scale of Noah's ark as described in the ancient text could have been built.  And what's more, they say it would have been buoyant even with two of every animal on Earth on board.

However, while the ark would have stayed afloat they're not sure if every animal would have fit inside.

In the book of Genesis, Chapter 6:13-22, Noah is commanded to build an ark to survive a flood.

- The dimensions for the ark were provided in cubits in the Bible, an archaic measure based on the distance between the elbow and the tip of the middle finger.

- Noah was commanded to make the boat out of ‘gopher wood’ and in order to calculate the weight of the empty ark they needed to know the density of the material the boat was constructed out of, but there is no modern-day equivalent of gopher wood.

- English translations of the Bible refer to cypress wood instead, so this was the material that the students used.

- In order to calculate the overall downward force of the ark, the students needed to know the mass of the animals on board; previous research has suggested that the average mass of an animal is approximately equal to that of one sheep, 23.47kg, which was the figure used.

- 'Our conclusions were that the ark would support the weight of 2.15 million sheep without sinking and that should be enough to support all of the species that were around at the time.'

Noah was provided with exact dimensions for the boat which should be 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high.

It was built to hold Noah, his family, and at least two of every species of animal for the duration of the flood.

Using these dimensions and suitable approximations, University of Leicester physics students Oliver Youle, Katie Raymer, Benjamin Jordan and Thomas Morris tested the instructions and were surprised with their results.

Student Thomas Morris, 22, from Chelmsford, said: 'You don’t think of the Bible necessarily as a scientifically accurate source of information, so I guess we were quite surprised when we discovered it would work.  'We’re not proving that it’s true, but the concept would definitely work.'

The students based their calculations on a book by Dr Morris and Dr Whitbomb called The Genesis Flood, which suggested that Noah would have needed to save approximately 35,000 species to repopulate Earth.

This enabled the students to conclude that the dimensions given in the Bible would have allowed Noah to build an ark that would float with all of the animals on board.

They added that it was a separate matter whether all of the animals would fit inside an ark of these dimensions  – the physics students were simply calculating the buoyancy of the ark.



We'll Probably End Up Just Dumping Obamacare's Employer Mandate

As you read this, keep in mind that Robert Gibbs isn't some marginal figure. He is as close to Barack Obama's inner circle as anyone in America, and served as the administration's official mouthpiece for years. So when he starts talking about significant changes to Obamacare, people should sit up and listen. These remarks could reasonably be considered White House-planted trial balloons:

 “I don’t think the employer mandate will go into effect. It’s a small part of the law. I think it will be one of the first things to go,” he said to a notably surprised audience. The employer mandate has been delayed twice, he noted. The vast majority of employers with 100 or more employees offer health insurance, and there aren’t many employers who fall into the mandate window, he said. Killing the employer mandate would be one way to improve the law — and there are a handful of other “common sense” improvements needed as well, he said...And, most importantly, Gibbs said “health care has to add an additional layer of coverage cheaper than the plans already offered.”

A few points: (1) Yes, the employer mandate has already been delayed twice, tacit admissions that the law is bad for business. Will the administration keep punting it, or will they simply declare it dead? The mandate is built into the law. The White House's postponements of this provision are legally dubious at best; they absolutely do not have the authority to excise entire sections of the law permanently. Will Congress act? I'd also imagine that many employers would dispute Gibbs' characterization of this mandate as "small." (2) How would the demise of the employer mandate impact the mechanics of the law? Its existence has been baked into CBO estimates on revenues and coverage. If a portion of the law designed to ensure coverage for millions, which obviously impacts revenues, goes away, what then? CBO already projects that 31 million Americans will remain uninsured under Obamacare.

(3) Absent a federal mandate to provide coverage, and facing rising costs, many businesses could be incentivized to just dump employees into Obamacare's exchanges. A 2012 Deloitte survey indicated that one in ten American businesses were already planning to stop providing coverage -- and that was with the mandate fully intact. Such a move would add countless Americans to the roster of those burned by Democrats' "keep your plan" lie, and could heap major additional costs onto taxpayers (who fund the law's subsidies). It would also rapidly expand the individual healthcare market, which is where the sharpest cost increases are taking place. And are Democrats prepared to cancel a mandate on corporations while keeping the individual mandate tax in place for families?

(4) To that end, Gibbs floats the idea of eventually adding a cheaper coverage level into the exchange mix, below the "bronze" level -- which has proven unaffordable for many people. This, like the administration's expansive "hardship waivers," is a concession that the "Affordable" Care Act is no such thing for many Americans. It would also re-establish an group of bare-bones plans that Obamacare defenders have dismissed as "sub-standard" or "junk" coverage. Healthcare expert Bob Laszewski has been advocating this change, which he argues must be implemented immediately, despite the risk of "anti-selection." Significant premium increases are expected in 2015 and beyond.




Minimum Wedge:  "Raising the minimum wage is a key Democrat election issue this year, and they're waging class warfare around the nation. They seek to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 -- a 40% hike that could kill 500,000 jobs. Democrats are subtly signaling, however, that they'd be willing to settle for a smaller increase just to pass one. They need all the help they can get this election year, after all. So naturally, Barack Obama stepped in to add his conciliatory message. "You would think this would be a no-brainer," the president said of raising it. But "Republicans in Congress don't want to vote to raise it all. In fact, some just want to scrap the minimum wage." That's right, because it destroys jobs. "Next think you know," he jabbed, "they'll say, 'Get off my lawn.'" And next thing we know, he'll be quoting taunts from Monty Python.

Numbers Games:  "An unpublished RAND Corporation study on ObamaCare enrollment has been kept under wraps and it's not hard to see why. While the White House trumpeted meeting its goal of 7.1 million enrollees this week, RAND says the number actually enrolled -- having paid their premium -- could be as few as 858,000. Just 23% of enrollees were previously uninsured. Even if the true number is somewhere in the middle, Democrats running for election in November will rue the day 7.1 million was mentioned. And how did the administration get its numbers so fast anyway? A couple of months ago Jay Carney stonewalled, saying, "I'm not going to cherry-pick numbers," meaning, tell you any. Now he says they know to the decimal point because "our system has gotten a lot better." Color us skeptical.

How did people find out that Mozilla’s CEO donated to support Prop 8?:  "Rumors are floating around Twitter that proof of Brendan Eich’s donation was illegally leaked by people in government sympathetic to the cause of gay marriage. Not so. I’d forgotten about it, but friends reminded me that the LA Times obtained a list of people who gave, for and against, to the fight over the Prop 8 referendum in 2008. They put the whole database online and made it searchable. Search it today and, sure enough, there’s Eich with a $1,000 donation in favor. Under California law, that disclosure is perfectly legal: The state is authorized to provide certain personal information about anyone who donates more than $100 to a ballot measure. Why the state is allowed to do that, I’m not sure.


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