Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Group of interns "racist"?

The latest intake of interns to the White house looks like it includes 90 whites and one black.  Is that racist? Unlikely. Trump makes a point of having blacks around.  So how come the "imbalance"?  Pretty obvious.  Whether formally stated or not, an essential qualification for acceptance would be registered GOP identity for either the intern or his/her parents.  And how many registered GOP voters would be young blacks? And of that tiny number how many have an outstanding record of educational success?  I think the answer lies before us.


The Pope is right

I follow the report below with some comments

Scalfari says to the Pope, "Your Holiness, in our previous meeting you told me that our species will disappear in a certain moment and that God, still out of his creative force, will create new species. You have never spoken to me about the souls who died in sin and will go to hell to suffer it for eternity. You have however spoken to me of good souls, admitted to the contemplation of God. But what about bad souls? Where are they punished?"

Pope Francis says,  "They are not punished, those who repent obtain the forgiveness of God and enter the rank of souls who contemplate him, but those who do not repent and cannot therefore be forgiven disappear. There is no hell, there is the disappearance of sinful souls."


Francis is a Jesuit, which means he is a man of some scholarship.  And it appears that he knows his Bible.  What he says is exactly what I say as a result of my Bible studies. And what the Bible says is not all obscure or hard to find.  It's actually all in the best known of Bible passages, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life".  We see there that the alternative to salvation is to perish, to cease to exist, not flitting off to a place of torture.

And what about another well-known scripture: 'Enter ye in at the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat'. How narrow is the gate and strait is the way that leadeth to life; and few there are that find it (Matthew 7:13,14 Douay).  Again we see that sin leads to destruction, not hell.

But what about texts that do seem to support hellfire?  One is a metaphorical prophecy in Matthew 25. It is metaphorical because a spirit being would not actually be sitting on a throne. An excerpt:

"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world ... Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal"

At the end of the passage, Jesus clarifies the metaphor.  He summarizes himself as saying that "these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal".  The "life eternal" is clear enough but what is the "everlasting punishment"?

Is it literally the "everlasting fire" into which the "goats" are cast?  If so, it certainly does sound like a clear formulation of a hellfire doctrine. But we have to look at the summary Jesus gave to check that. The word translated as "punishment" is in Greek "kolasin" and it simply means "cutting off". It is the word a Greek gardener might use to describe the pruning of a tree. So it would be a superior translation to say that the goats would be cut off and thrown away like the unwanted branch of a tree

So, when properly translated, we see that Christ was, as usual, offering the alternatives of life and death, not heaven and hell -- exactly as he does in John 3:16. The sheep get eternal life and the goats get eternal death.

A Vatican announcement has appeared which denies that the Pope said what he did but I guess they had to.  It was not an ex cathedra pronouncement by Francis but it did go against traditional Catholic teaching. It seems that Francis was expressing his own personal views -- which are much more in tune with both modern thinking and scripture


Is the "terrorist Right" just a creation of Obama's FBI?

We now know how "bent" the FBI was under Comey

In 2015, Barack Obama’s Department of Homeland Security released an intelligence assessment on alleged right-wing terrorism.

Said CNN about the report, “Some federal and local law-enforcement groups view the domestic terror threat from sovereign citizen groups as equal to – and in some cases greater than – the threat from foreign Islamic terror groups, such as ISIS, that garner more public attention.”

When President Trump shifted the DHS focus away from domestic terror, the media were quick to turn to the professional race-baiters at the Southern Poverty Law Center for an instant denunciation.

“It’s a disgrace that Trump is cutting out Countering Violent Extremism funds for white supremacists and neo-Nazis,” said a SPLC spokesperson. “We know that the domestic terror threat from them is as great as it from Islamic radicals. It’s a very serious situation.”

For the SPLC, the trial that began this past week in Wichita for three Kansans accused of planning to blow up a Garden City apartment complex would seem to be vindication.

Time magazine led its story on the alleged plot with the standard media boilerplate.

“The plot to bomb an apartment complex housing Somali immigrants in western Kansas was just the beginning of a plan by three militia members to ‘exterminate cockroaches,’ a prosecutor told jurors Thursday.”

In the Time version of the story, the hero is a reluctant would-be terrorist named Dan Day. “Dan Day knew the plan would go forward and innocent people would die,” reports Time.

According to prosecutor Risa Berkower, Day “struggled with what to do, prayed about what to do. And then he contacted the FBI, and later agreed to wear a wire.”

An in-depth article by Jessica Pressler in New York Magazine points to a more troubling inspiration for the plot.

To please her New York audience, Pressler begins with a few de rigueur snipes at President Donald Trump. She then veers into the unexpected.

In her conversations with one of the accused, a troubled soul named Patrick Stein, Pressler sheds some useful light on the way too many of these plots unfold.

As Pressler tells it, Stein only became aware of Day’s role during his arraignment at a Wichita courthouse.

“He’s the one who fed us all the information, showed us how bad they were, doing this and that and the other,” he told Pressler. “He was working for the feds the entire time. It was all a setup.”

Pressler backs up Stein’s account. “This time, Stein’s paranoid fantasy had turned out to be at least partially true,” she writes.

Day was, in fact, a paid informant for the FBI. He apparently had been reporting on Stein since Stein introduced him to the two other conspirators, Curtis Allen and Gavin Wright, at a gun show in February 2016.

Among the things that roused Stein’s ire were ISIS recruitment fliers reportedly found in a local public library. According to Stein, it was Day who told him he saw the fliers there.

Stein lived in Liberal, Kansas. Day lived in Garden City. Again according to Stein, it was Day who turned his attention to the heavily Somali apartment complex in Garden City that also housed an impromptu mosque.

“If we don’t do it, who’s gonna do it?” Day reportedly told Stein of blowing up the building.

Unquestionably, it was Day who introduced the crew to the “Bad Motherf—–,” or BMF as he came to be known. The BMF could provide the weapons and the expertise the men lacked.

Stein admitted to limited experience in building bombs. On their own, writes Pressler, the three conspirators “mostly succeeded in burning the hair off [Curtis Allen’s] finger.”

The BMF said he could solve that problem. All Stein, who owned a farm, had to do was deliver six 50-pound bags of ammonium nitrate, and the BMF could build a small-scale version of the bomb Tim McVeigh used in Oklahoma City.

The plot might have matured had Allen not beaten up his girlfriend, and had she not reported the beating and Allen’s growing weapons stash to the Liberal Police.

Upon learning of Allen’s exposure in Liberal, the feds arranged the delivery of ammonium nitrate to the conspirators and arrested the conspirators promptly after the handoff.

The BMF, it turned out, was an undercover FBI agent. The weapons he provided to the men had been shipped from Quantico, Virginia.

Stein, writes Pressler, had “become the thing he feared most: a casualty of the Obama administration, specifically, its attempt to aggressively infiltrate right-wing militias the same way that Islamic groups had been targeted after 9/11.”

Ed Robinson, the court-appointed public defender, agreed that Stein had a point “about the feds overdoing it.”

Said Robinson, “I think it’s unfortunate that, if the FBI thought these gentlemen were so dangerous, why would they let this investigation go on for 10 months, with people they think are possibly murderers, with all these guns, all this ammunition?”

A week before this story broke, I had lunch with an old friend, Laird Wilcox, America’s leading authority on extremist groups.

The Kenneth Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas is home to the Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements.

Wilcox believes that many of the would-be terrorist groups on the right, if not most, are propped up by FBI informants and undercover agents. The Garden City plot would seem to be a case in point.

As the plot reveals, it is hard to tell whether the FBI’s agent provocateurs are more dangerous than the losers they encourage.



John Bolton's Enemies
Among the several ways to judge a person’s fitness for office are the enemies he has made.

In the case of John Bolton, President Trump’s choice to become national security adviser, those who oppose his appointment — liberals, neocons and some Republicans all with differing worldviews and questionable foreign policy experience — appear to say more about his qualifications than those who support him.

A New York Times editorial said that at least Bolton speaks his mind, though it also said it didn’t like what was on it. The Times and its ideological sister publication, The Washington Post, have spilled considerable amounts of ink in negative stories, editorials and columns in their attempts to undermine and discredit Bolton. Why?

I think one of the reasons these newspapers, the foreign policy establishment and certain enemies (and allies) of America oppose Bolton is because he is a clear thinker. He is not an appeaser. He believes nations and terrorists who publicly proclaim their desire to destroy America should be taken seriously and that credible planning should be done to make sure it that destruction doesn’t happen. Peace through strength has worked before and Bolton believes it can work again. Strength is what deters bullies, not trying to “understand” their hostility toward America, as Hillary Clinton once recommended.

The weak always fear the strong because, among other things, it exposes their weakness. John Bolton exposes the weakness of America’s foreign policy under several presidents. Enemies cannot and must not be appeased or coddled. Enemies must be defeated or, at a minimum, deterred from making war against America and our interests. History shows the results of appeasement, and they are never good for free people or those struggling to gain freedom under totalitarian regimes.

Writing about Bolton’s appointment, Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick rightly stated: “For the better part of three decades, Bolton has bravely held positions that fly in the face of the establishment’s innate preference for appeasement. He was a vocal critic, for example, of then-President Bill Clinton’s disastrous nuclear diplomacy with North Korea.” Bolton was also a critic of President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. Some of his predictions and policy recommendations turned out to be right.

Here are some pithy Bolton-isms that are clear-eyed and have the advantage of being right. About diplomatic dealings with Iran, Bolton has said: “When you have a regime that would be happier in the afterlife than in this life, this is not a regime that is subject to classic theories of deterrence.”

On the strategy known as negotiation, Bolton is quoted as saying, “Negotiation is not a policy. It’s a technique. It’s something you use when it’s to your advantage, and something that you don’t use when it’s not to your advantage.”

There is also this about the United Nations to which he was once the U.S. ambassador: “There’s no such thing as the United Nations. If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.” But then Bolton is equal opportunity when it comes to dysfunctional bureaucracies: “You could take several stories off the buildings of most U.S. government agencies and we’d all probably be better for it, too.”

The media love to attach labels to Bolton, among them “hawkish,” “dangerous” and “hard-line.” Given the kind of threats we face from enemies who better fit those adjectives, John Bolton seems an ideal pick to advise the president on national security issues he knows a great deal about.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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