Monday, December 30, 2013

Chipmunks making fun of the Westboro Baptist Church

One of the funniest videos I have seen in some time.

New things on the site for 2014

Most of the following are things that I started to do in 2013.

Economics Notes. As I complete my economics courses, I plan on blogging about what I learned in the process. So be prepared to see things about economic philosophy, the Federal Reserve system, the Great Depression, and free-market economics current application to U.S. politics. Because I discontinued my weekly health care posts in late 2012 (see below), I will occasionally, if not frequently, write about solutions to U.S. health care. Similarly, I will also write about the environmental policy occasionally.

Book reviews are in the works as well (see Theology notes section for style).

Theology Notes. I'm not taking any classes, but I do read theology and Christian apologetics books from time to time. And of course, there's always my weekly bible study. I plan on writing reflections on theology and book reviews of theology books. I plan to emulate book reviewers from various sources including Books and Culture, The New Yorker, and The American Spectator, but primarily the first two.

Miscellaneous Notes.  I need some freedom to cover a large range of topics; so to serve that need I will be creating this section. This may cover poetry (I've been reading lots of poetry books), literature (novels, short stories), nutrition, pop culture, Christian culture, philosophy, and journalism, but I really am not sure.

Discontinued in 2013

Last year, I discontinued my "Weekly Health Review," a weekly wrap-up of important health care related news. However, I made it to Vol. 14 before doing so. Overall, those posts were pretty popular features of this site. Looking at the posts' view counts, they ranged from 18-70+ views each, but they mainly were between the 30-40 view range.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ancient Evidence for Belief in the Rapture (Or something rapture-like)

This hits home.

Francis Gumerlock, author of "The Early Church and the End of the World," has written an article in Bibliotheca Sacra that shows that there were "rapture" beliefs before the 1800s.  As the common misconception goes, the rapture, which I do* believe in myself, was an invention of the 1800s.

A preview of that article is available here on his website. The title of the paper is Rapture in the Apocalypse of Elijah.

I first came along a similar notion when I first began reading Pagan Christianity in 2008.

From what I've read, the book doesn't actually come out and says the rapture was created in the 1800s (However, Gumerlock's paper cites a work that might. See the first footnote.). It doesn't even use the term rapture. However, it does talk about "pretribulational dispensationalism" which is linked to rapture beliefs.

From page 71:

It is also worth noting that Moody was heavily influenced by the Plymouth Brethren teaching on the end times. This was the teaching that Christ may return at any second before the great Tribulation. (This teaching is also called "pretribulational dispensationalism.")
In the footnotes on page 71, there is some unhelpful wording:

142. John Nelson Darby spawned this teaching. The origin of Darby's pretribulational doctrine is fascinating. See Dave MacPherson, The Incredible Cover-Up (Medford, OR: Omega Publications, 1975). 

Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition defines spawned as, among other definitions, "to bring forth or be the source of (esp. something regarded with contempt and produced in great numbers)." So you could see how as a college sophomore (I finished my sophomore year I think and I was in South Carolina for the summer. Did that make me a "rising junior?) I could get a little confused about the origins of the rapture.

While my current church teaches the "rapture," it is one of the many things I disagree with at the church. And on Gumerlock's paper, I must add that he is not saying that belief in the rapture was widespread among early Christians. In fact, from the intro it only seems like a handful (to be generous), held that belief.

Read the intro here.

*Before correction, this post said that I don't believe in the rapture. That is wrong. I do. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bill Provine says evolution means no gods, no purpose, no life after death, etc

‘Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear … There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end for me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either.’ ~William Provine, 1994
While I somehow ran across this quote today from (and I really don't know how I got to, since I visit it only a few times a year, meaning 0-3; maybe I clicked on a link on a Youtube video I watched today), I actually heard Provine say this quote in his debate with Phillip E. Johnson many years ago. That's the only reason I'm quoting it; because it has sentimental value. It is otherwise pretty pedestrian, even if it is revealing. 

I watched that video back as an undergraduate; it is below.

But on the free will thing, agnostic physicist Michio Kaku would disagree.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Books I Used To Write the Second-Longest Paper I Ever Wrote

When I was a senior in college, I wrote the second-longest essay of my life -- and it wasn't for a class. It was for a cash prize of $5,000.

In December 2009, I heard about the Atlas Sound Money Project Essay and, broke as the economy, I jumped for the cash prize. I did not win the first prize. A kid from Dartmouth did, if my memory serves me correctly. I also did not win the one of the two second prizes ($1,000), or one of the three third prizes ($500).

I had to choose between the following topics:
Essay Topics:
- “Money and the Free Society: Can Money Exist Outside of the State?”
- “The Ethical Implications of Monetary Manipulation”
- “Monetary Policy and the Rule of Law in the United States”
I choose the last one.

But cleaning up my desk this evening (how it surfaced to my desk 4 years later, I have no idea), I decided to discard the paper I had notes on and preserve the memory through this blog post.

Here are the books I used to write the 20-page essay, which was supposed to be "accessible to the educated laymen, but rigorous enough as to be used in college and university courses." That had my writing style written all over it.

Economics Reading List for Sound Money Essay 
-The Alpha Strategy
-How the Fed Works (50 pages)
-Essentials of Economics
-Gold Wars
-Honest Money (Esp. Biblical Monetary System)
-Housing Boom and Bust
These aren't the only sources I used. I also completed Robert P. Murphy's "Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism," some excerpts from some newsletters I was receiving at the time, and more. Besides the Murphy book, only other books I read in their entirety for this essay was "The Alpha Strategy" (which I have offered free of charge since November 2009), "Gold Wars," "Honest Money." I skimmed through the Sowell Book. I probably didn't cite the Faustino Ballve book nor the How the Fed Works book.

I also have some handwritten notes on this paper, such as "banks are good - fractional reserve isn't," "sell back gold to the public," "FDIC out of commission," "FED = Insurance Agency," "prevent recessions," "prices of goods will fall," "gov = tax in gold," " = pay in gold," and "no government mandate for gold-only. Gold is standard, but other metals are usuable (sic)." Corresponding page numbers were in parentheses next to these notes.

The Atlas Foundation's original blog post announcing the competition was published on December 2, 2009. The deadline to submit the essay was January 15, 2010.  You can read the blog description here.

I'll publish the essay on a later date. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

David Berlinksi on the Old Testament

I would suggest to any student entering college now, 2011, to do what I'm sure he hasn't done: go read the Old Testament. That should be your first challenge today. I always ask my students "Well, have you (ever) read the, have you  read the Bible? Yea, Yea, I read the Bible, sure. But when I interrogate the student it turns up reading the Bible means they have a Bible on their book shelf. And I said, "have you opened it?""Yea, we've opened it,"  but opening it doesn't mean reading it.
The Old Testament is the greatest repository of human knowledge and wisdom in the history of civilization, any culture, any time, any place. And that really should be the first point of discussion because every attitude current today in the discussion from Richard Dawkins, to me, to Christopher Hitchens, to lonely pastors in the Bible Belt on Sunday morning ranting from a particular text is discussed in the Bible, and there's a characters in the Bible who expresses that point of view, there's sympathy expressed for that point of view, and there's reservations expressed by that sympathy. It's an enormously complex, rich dramatic piece of work. That's the first. 
David Berlinksi on Uncommon Knowledge

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Think Obamacare, Think Trabant

The Obamacare rollout, with the dysfunctional "" as the star of the show, reminds me of another service a government tried to roll out in competition with the private sector: transportation.

Specifically, the 1975 Trabant.

No, I was not around back then and definitely not in Germany (nor have I been east of the Atlantic Ocean), but everything I've read about Obamacare reminds me of Communism's answer to the Volkswagen Beetle.

The car has been on numerous "all time worst lists." It was also created under a communist regime.

Like free healthcare in socialist countries, you couldn't outright buy a Trabant. You had to apply for one and get put on a wait list:

For all its shortcomings, the Trabant 601 became highly sought-after in Eastern Europe, and buying one (prospective owners did not order their new Trabant; they applied for it) involved joining a waiting list that could last up to 18 years.
Not all things related to the Trabant are bad. But neither are all things related to Obamacare. The bad, as always, outweighed the good. The Trabant has symbolic value. So will Obamacare.

As Wikipedia puts it, "the Trabant is often cited as an example of the disadvantages of centralized planning; on the other hand, it is also regarded with derisive affection as a symbol of the failed former East Germany and of the fall of communism (in former West Germany, as many East Germans streamed into West Berlin and West Germany in their Trabants after the opening of the Berlin Wall in 1989). 

The open-source entry continues: "It was in production without any significant changes for nearly 30 years, with 3,096,099 Trabants produced in total."

Talk about a lack of innovation.

 Here is what a Time writer wrote about the Trabant in Time's 50 Worst Cars of All Time feature:

This is the car that gave Communism a bad name. Powered by a two-stroke pollution generator that maxed out at an ear-splitting 18 hp, the Trabant was a hollow lie of a car constructed of recycled worthlessness (actually, the body was made of a fiberglass-like Duroplast, reinforced with recycled fibers like cotton and wood). A virtual antique when it was designed in the 1950s, the Trabant was East Germany's answer to the VW Beetle — a "people's car," as if the people didn't have enough to worry about. Trabants smoked like an Iraqi oil fire, when they ran at all, and often lacked even the most basic of amenities, like brake lights or turn signals. But history has been kind to the Trabi. Thousands of East Germans drove their Trabants over the border when the Wall fell, which made it a kind of automotive liberator. Once across the border, the none-too-sentimental Ostdeutschlanders immediately abandoned their cars. Ich bin Junk!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Christopher Hitchens, my home boy, and I

No, that's not me on the right. That's the person I went to the "What Best Explains Reality: Theism or Atheism?" debate with featuring Frank Turek vs. Christopher Hitchens on March 31, 2009 at TCNJ. This was moments after I met Christopher Hitchens for the second time. He had signed the original copy of a 500 word profile of him I wrote for my magazine writing class in Spring 2009.

"Do you have an extra copy?" I recall him asking.

I didn't. And in fact, I thought about leaving him a copy but there wasn't a Kinko's in sight on our way there.

If I remember correctly, I was the last person to have anything signed by Christopher Hitchens that night. It was getting late. Christopher had already signed tons of autographs. And I believe he had a plane to catch.

My homeboy, then a Christian, asked Christopher why he didn't believe in God?

It was one of those, "it's obvious there is a God, why don't you believe in him?"-type questions. It was very passionate.

I don't remember Christopher's response.

But my friend asked him the question as he was still sitting down. I had just stepped away after my paper was signed. Shortly after saying something, Christopher Hitchens stood up, and either he or his help had a gray wheeled luggage bag (or maybe I'm confusing his bag for the one Frank Turek possibly had). He told Christopher about his flight.

That one Christian guy who asks atheists why they don't believe

I was reminded of the entire 2009 TCNJ scene when an old white man, after the Q&A opened up, popped the first question to ask Richard Dawkins at the National Press Club a few weeks ago. Also admittedly an atheist -- at least for that night -- Sally Quinn, a long-time Washington Post reporter and editor, gave one of the worst interviews of Richard Dawkins I've ever seen.

Why do I say that?

Because she steered the conversation to make Richard Dawkins says things that he has literally said 1,000 times before in his speaking and debate circuits after the publication of his 2006 bestseller The God Delusion. We could Wiki some of his answers. This lady is a religion editor. You would have thought she would have done her homework. Maybe she did. Maybe she had done the kind of preparation for a test where the examiner doesn't question you on anything you had studied for. That would be apt, except she was the examiner. And examiner decided to test you on last month's material, which you certainly knew, but were prepared for something more recent (Does this hypothetical ever happen? lol)

Richard Dawkins was there on September 30, 2013 to discuss his new book "An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist" (2013), the first half of his two-part memoir. The best she could have done was read excerpts from the book, and then ask him to expound on that.

"What did you mean when you said..." would have been a much more productive way of interviewing than pointing out he became an atheist in his teens (something he has said many times before) and contrasting that with her own awareness that she was an atheist at age 5. Instead, she barely asked about the book, in my view. As I see it, she was a Washington Post reporter getting an exclusive interview with Richard Dawkins and used her exclusive interview to self-servingly get some personal questions answered.

Anyway, after what I guess was a half-hour of virtually unproductive conversation, the Q&A started.

The aforementioned first questioner asked "Why don't you believe in the empirical evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ?"

The question brought me back to my friend who asked a similar question with the same underlying vein: "Dear atheist, why don't you see it?"

Thank you for saving me, Richard Dawkins

I respected the question. Both questions. But I must say the following time was spent on two non-questions, a question about when atheism is going to catch on (or something like that) and at least one conspiracy-deny conspiracy theorist. I'll get to the latter in a second.

But a woman explained that she was on the way to the nunnery when she picked up a copy of Richard Dawkins' classic The Selfish Gene, which was even required text for some classes at my alma mater of La Salle University. At that point, she had dropped everything, changed course of her life to one that was religious and would have been completely religious if she had become a nun, and embraced the secular life in all its wonder.

Another man, a former Muslim originally from a Middle Eastern country, explained that it was The Selfish Gene that was the text that changed his outlook on life.

Another guy, who apparently attempted to indulge in some camaraderie before posing his question by, I think, tipping his hat towards The Selfish Gene or maybe some other RD work, asked something to the effect of "What do you think about Government conspiracy?" I believe it dealt with the fact that governments lie. That is true. (I'm sure the question is on tape. That will correct the record.) But there was some brief mention of 9/11 conspiracy theories, but the way it was postulated it was like he was trying to have it both ways. Sure he was secular, maybe even thought of himself as a critical thinker, and whatever he researched in his personal time he may have indeed had some good points, but the way he asked his question was ambiguous, and one wouldn't know if he was pro-conspiracy theory or not (I, for one, think they're OK, if support by facts). Richard was puzzled. So was I.

It also reminds of the way Sally Quinn conducted her interview. Not that her questions had anything to do with conspiracy. They didn't. But I feel like she used the opportunity to ask questions so he could answer and, in effect, do the research for her.

And that's the same way I felt with the guy. Richard Dawkins, by all accounts, is a scientist, not a philosopher of religion, or a political philosopher. (He did mention he wanted to live in a world where people pay taxes, as if taxes were moral things in themselves. In that case, I wouldn't want to live a world that Richard Dawkins gets to construct.) So asking him a political question is kind of intellectually lazy on the questioners part, because it seems like all these people want them to do is give free advice or do the research for the person.

Can we finally--finally!--talk about the book?

In the end, I met Richard Dawkins for the first time. Saw a buddy -- who described himself as "not convinced" by Dawkins and somewhat of "a mystic" -- I recently met a few weeks ago there. And got two RD's signature. It was the only novel thing I got from the experience, and perhaps the only novel thing other attendees got from their experiences. It's not like they could get a novel interview when it's conducted by Sally Quinn. Not that day, at least.

I did entertain a few people waiting in line to get there book signed. And one guy, probably one of the only other black people in the crowd (whether Tea Party rallies or anti-war rallies, politically left or politically right, black people hardly are in the crowds where I do my serious reporting or blogging) recommended I buy Vincent Bugliosi's "The Divinity of Doubt: The God Question." It has been added to my Amazon Wish List.

I ordered The God Delusion a few days before, and so I didn't have the physical copy in front of him to sign. He signed my Amazon receipt instead, which I cut out and pasted into my copy of The God Delusion when it arrived in the mail days later.

The other thing I had RD sign was a printed page of the old Richard Dawkins website. There was a post on there about Richard Dawkins "fleas" (the number of response books to The God Delusion). The blue response book, picture above, is what I originally planned on posting that second RD signature into. I haven't done that yet. The Ipod Tutor: The Argument Against Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion is one of three response books I own. I also own secular Jew, agnostic, and mathematician David Berlinki's book "The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and it's Scientific Pretension's" and Christian and mathematician John Lennox's "God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?" I bought all three response books back in college prior to 2011. Perhaps all prior to 2010. I haven't completed one, although I did get through a good portion of Lennox's book back in college, with the highlights, and red and blue ink to show for it. I plan to read all four books soon, meaning within a year or two, starting with the Dawkin's book.

He (RD) was eminently pleasant, by the way.

"Do you want me to sign here?" he said. I was in awe and calmed by his pleasant demeanor.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Liberals: Gun Control leads to violation of other rights; Conservatives: The right to bear arms is violated with Stop-and-Frisk

Anthony Gregory of the Independent Institute explains:
Even today, gun laws are much like drug laws in that they are disproportionately used against minorities. Gun control is the chief impetus behind New York City’s Stop-and-Frisk program, which in 2011 ensnared young black men more times than there are young black men in the city, and targets minorities by a ratio of nine to one. Conservatives who defend this program are defending gun control at its most invasive—the wholesale profiling and searching of people in the attempt to procure guns, which conservatives claim people have a natural and constitutional right to carry in the first place. Liberals opposed to this program should recognize that to violate gun rights, government must violate other rights.

He also quotes a former Black Panther party leader on the matter:
Elaine Brown, head of the Black Panther Party in the 1970s, recently explained:
The position of the Black Panther Party was that black people live in communities occupied by police forces that are armed and dangerous and represent the frontline of forces keeping us oppressed. We did not promote guns, but rather, the right to defend ourselves against a state that was oppressing us — with guns. There were innumerable incidents in which police agents kicked in our doors or shot our brothers and sisters in what we called red-light trials, where the policeman was the judge, the jury and the executioner. We called for an immediate end to this brutality, and advocated for our right to self-defense.  
On Reagan:
As governor of California, Reagan signed the Mulford Act into law in 1967. Written by Republican Assemblyman Don Mulford, the legislation was the most sweeping state edict in all the country, prohibiting the more or less free carrying of firearms in public. It went along with the rest of his heavy-handed entire law-and-order agenda and inspired an avalanche of new gun laws nationwide.The purpose of the law was to disarm the Black Panthers, a radical leftist group that openly carried firearms, kept an eye out on the police, and even took their rifles to the state Capitol to protest what they decried as racist legislation. (bold edits are my own ~GR)
The Tea Party and the Black Panthers have something in common. Strange bedfellows.

Schiff: Obama's wrong when he says we have to raise the debt ceiling because we have to pay our bills

President Obama has often repeated that not raising the debt ceiling is an acknowledgement that the United States (Government) can't pay its bills.

What's the contrary position?
"When President Obama says that have to raise the debt ceiling, because America always pays its bills, he's wrong. The reason we have so much debt, is because we never pay our bills. And the reason that we have to raise the debt ceiling is because we can't pay the bills. So we want to borrow more money instead. If we leave the debt ceiling alone, then we finally actually have to deal with the bills. And the problem is, we borrowed so much money, it's impossible to pay it back. And that's what president Obama doesn't want our creditors figuring out." Peter Schiff on The Street (Video)

Are modern economists right that eliminating deficit spending will decrease GDP?

From a recent op-ed in Capitalism Magazine:
According to modern economists, an elimination of deficit spending will immediately cause a dollar for dollar decrease in GDP. For example, if the government stopped sending food stamp payments to poor people, then grocery stores would lose business, employees would be laid off, and the economy would contract. But this one dimensional view fails to appreciate that the purchasing power of the food stamps had to come from somewhere. The government can’t create something from nothing. Taxation transfers purchasing power from people living in the present to other people living in the present. In contrast, borrowing transfers purchasing power from people living in the future to people living in the present. The good news for politicians is that future people don’t vote in current elections (and current voters don’t seem to appreciate the cost to their future selves of current policy).

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Greed is not good

"Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life." (Colossians 3:5-7)

(Update at 8:28 PM: So I am still studying and ran across this scripture. Jesus himself is speaking: "And he said to them," Take care! Be on your guard against all kind of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." Luke 11:15)

Greed is, quite simply, a sin, under the category of idolatry.

Of course, Wall Street businessmen and politicians aren't the only ones capable of being greedy, or impure, or having (sexual) passion (outside of the will of God), or evil desires. The large part of society who are non-politicians have the same capacity.

And "on account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient."

The upside to all of this in the next verse.

"These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life."

Through Jesus, who is also called Y'shua or Yeshua, through his death on the cross and the power of his resurrection, we are able to be forgiven for our sin and are enabled by the Holy Spirit (the Ruach Hakodesh) to live holy lives. Formerly greedy people, formerly sexually passionate people, and so forth, who once lived those lives are capable of living new ones.

May the Gospel of Jesus Christ flourish in the hearts of men...

...including the Wall Street crowd and the political class.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Christians responding in love to widespread suffering will grow the Church, history shows

In 165 AD, during the reign of Marcus Aureilus, a devastating epidemic swept through the Roman Empire. Some medical historians suspect that it was the first appearance of small pox in the West. During the 15-year duration of the epidemic, from a quarter to a third of the empire's population died from it, including Marcus Auraleius himself in 180 in Vienna. Nevertheless, Christianity grew during this time due to the loving response of Christians in the midst of widespread suffering.   
Vince Kluth of Trinity Reformed Presbyterian Church quoting Rodney Stark's The Rise of Christianity: A Sociologist Reconsiders History

Monday, September 2, 2013

Joel McDurmon on What Christians Should be Doing on Syria

Via Joel McDurmon of The American Vision:
If you really care about Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya and every other hell-hole governed by a despot or in the grip of civil war, there is only one appropriate response. You pray to the God who makes wars to cease from the ends of the earth to bring peace (Psalm 46:9); pray for the gospel to take root and flourish in those nations; and send out missionaries there if you can. These are the only weapons that will ever do those places any good. All others will reap yet more destruction and misery in the years to come and our nations will bear much of the responsibility for it.
I'd like to add, "Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to his life?" (Matthew 6:27)

Glenn Greenwald on Obama's virtual pledge to ignore Congress

Always insightful, Glenn Greenwald from The Guardian explains:

 To the contrary, there is substantial evidence for the proposition that the White House sees the vote as purely advisory, i.e., meaningless.
Recall how - in one of most overlooked bad acts of the Obama administration - the House of Representatives actually voted, overwhelmingly, against authorizing the US war in Libya, and yet Obama simply ignored the vote and proceeded to prosecute the war anyway (just as Clinton did when the House rejected the authorization he wanted to bomb Kosovo, though, at least there, Congress later voted to allocate funds for the bombing campaign). 
And then he gives us this nugget:
There are few things more bizarre than watching people advocate that another country be bombed even while acknowledging that it will achieve no good outcomes other than safeguarding the "credibility" of those doing the bombing. Relatedly, it's hard to imagine a more potent sign of a weak, declining empire than having one's national "credibility" depend upon periodically bombing other countries. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Palestinian Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church on Syria and U.S. intervention

Via the Catholic Herald:
In a statement published on the patriarchate’s website, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal pleaded with the United States and its allies to be cautious and think again before taking any military action. 
“Our friends in the West and the United States have not been attacked by Syria,” he said. “With what legitimacy do they dare attack a country? Who appointed them as ‘policemen of democracy’ in the Middle East?” 
“Why declare war when UN experts have not yet delivered the definitive findings on the chemical nature of the attack and the formal identity of its agents?” the patriarch asked. “We witness here a logic reminiscent of the Iraq war preparation in 2003. Do not repeat the ‘comedy’ of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq when there were none.”
So add Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal to the list of moral leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and former Congressman Ron Paul who have recognized the United States Government as some sort of international "policeman." (click italics for videos)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Thomas Sowell on the "Talented Phony" Barack Obama


Like other truly talented phonies, Barack Obama concentrates his skills on the effect of his words on other people — most of whom do not have the time to become knowledgeable about the things he is talking about. Whether what he says bears any relationship to the facts is politically irrelevant. 
A talented con man, or a slick politician, does not waste his time trying to convince knowledgeable skeptics. His job is to keep the true believers believing. He is not going to convince the others anyway.

The Nation's Phyllis Bennis on the pending illegal U.S. military action in Syria

Via Phyllis Bennis of The Nation:
But what we’re hearing now is that the model under consideration for a US military strike on Syria would be that of Kosovo. Remember that one, back in 1999, at the end of the Bosnia war? That time, knowing it was impossible to get Security Council agreement for an air war against Serbia over the disputed enclave of Kosovo, the US and its allies simply announced that they would get their international permission slip somewhere else. That would be the NATO high command. What a surprise, the NATO generals agreed with their respective presidents and prime ministers, and said, sure, we think it’s a great idea. The problem is, the UN Charter is very clear on what constitutes a legal use of military force—and permission from NATO isn’t on that very short list. If the Security Council does not say yes, and there is no legal claim of immediate self-defense (which even the US isn’t claiming regarding Syria), any use or threat of use of military force is illegal. Period. Full stop. Claiming that NATO or someone else said it was okay isn’t part of international law—the air war was illegal in Kosovo, and it would be illegal in Syria.

Scheuer says non-intervention towards Syria benefits U.S. national-security interests already


Today’s status quo in Syria benefits U.S. national-security interests without Washington having to take any action at all:
–a.) The Syrian army, Lebanese Hizaballah guerrillas, and Iran’s soldiers are killing large numbers of America’s enemies among al-Qaeda, its allies, and their supporters. Iran and Syria also are spending themselves further into bankruptcy.
–b.) At the same time, Al-Qaeda and its allies — America’s enemies — are killing large numbers of the Syrian army, Lebanese Hizballah guerrillas, and Iran’s soldiers, all of whom Washington describes as America’s true-blue enemies.
–c.) And much of this mayhem is being at least partially facilitated by the money and expensive equipment being sent to each side by other of America’s enemies — Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE, for example.
For all of these realistic, common sense, beneficial-to-America, and — dare I say? — America First reasons, as well as for the even more important constitutional reasons cited above, Senate and House leaders ought to lay down the constitutional law — that is, no Congressional declaration, no war — to the supposed constitutional lawyer Obama and thereby make him obey the law for the first time in his presidency.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Video: Obama's Syrian rebels are practicing cannibalism

Remember, Mitt Romney said he would work to organize and arm Syrian rebels 'who share our values' back in 2012 when he was running for President.

Daniel McAdams doing some actual journalism on alleged Syrian chemical weapons usage

Via Dan McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity:
Credible reports coming from the pro-government press in Syria that the rebels have time and time again -- including just yesterday -- used crude chemical agents in their fight to overthrow the government are routinely ignored by the same Western media that dutifully reports every utterance from the rebels' own mouthpiece, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 
However, the claims that chemical agents were used has come under very skeptical scrutiny from those who understand such matters. Although the press with its signature lack of curiosity is reporting breathlessly on the preparations for war (it's good for ratings and for the profits of their military-industrial complex invested corporate owners), there are thankfully still some media outlets willing to consider those odd things called facts. 
The Israeli Haaretz newspaper is one of those, and it reports (via Sic Semper Tyrannis blog) that those who know a bit about chemical warfare are unconvinced by Syrian insurgent reports of chemical weapons use. 
Western experts on chemical warfare who have examined at least part of the footage are skeptical that weapons-grade chemical substances were used, although they all emphasize that serious conclusions cannot be reached without thorough on-site examination. Dan Kaszeta, a former officer of the U.S. Army's Chemical Corps and a leading private consultant, pointed out a number of details absent from the footage so far: "None of the people treating the casualties or photographing them are wearing any sort of chemical-warfare protective gear," he says, "and despite that, none of them seem to be harmed." This would seem to rule out most types of military-grade chemical weapons, including the vast majority of nerve gases, since these substances would not evaporate immediately, especially if they were used in sufficient quantities to kill hundreds of people, but rather leave a level of contamination on clothes and bodies which would harm anyone coming in unprotected contact with them in the hours after an attack. In addition, he says that "there are none of the other signs you would expect to see in the aftermath of a chemical attack, such as intermediate levels of casualties, severe visual problems, vomiting and loss of bowel control." 

Steve Johnson, a leading researcher on the effects of hazardous material exposure at England's Cranfield University who has worked with Britain's Ministry of Defense on chemical warfare issues, agrees that "from the details we have seen so far, a large number of casualties over a wide area would mean quite a pervasive dispersal. With that level of chemical agent, you would expect to see a lot of contamination on the casualties coming in ,and it would affect those treating them who are not properly protected. We are not seeing that here." Additional questions also remain unanswered, especially regarding the timing of the attack, being that it occurred on the exact same day that a team of UN inspectors was in Damascus to investigate earlier claims of chemical weapons use. It is also unclear what tactical goal the Syrian army would have been trying to achieve, when over the last few weeks it has managed to push back the rebels who were encroaching on central areas of the capital. But if this was not a chemical weapons attack, what then caused the deaths of so many people without any external signs of trauma?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Terence P. Jeffrey on the role of secular, messianic foreign policies in pushing Christians out of Middle East

Via Terry Jeffrey of
.....In our time, Christianity could be driven from some of the lands where it first took root.

If that dark and epochal moment comes, some of the blame for it must be pinned on the messianic foreign policies pursued by our most recent two presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
.....[Bush] expressed his evangelical zeal for this secular cause in his second inaugural address.

Daniel McAdams on Obama's Syrian Allies Destroying Single Christian Church

The Antiochian Orthodox church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus in the archdiocese of Aleppo was built between 1985 and 1994 on land offered by the al-Thawrah's city council. It served not only its own parishioners, but also allowed other Christian denominations to use its facilities.   Shortly after Aleppo was overrun by rebels seeking to overthrow the Syrian government, the metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Aleppo, Boulos al-Yazigi, was kidnapped (and allegedly murdered) along with the Syriac Orthodox metropolitan, Mor Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim.
Obama's Syrian Allies Destroy Another Christian Church || Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute

This year, 2013, is a record low for U.S. Twisters

While many climate alarmists still try to tell us that global warming will increase tornadoes, we are in the middle of a tornado drought, and well below normal. Normally we’d see 1221 tornadoes in the USA, so far for 2013, only 716 have been reported.
 2013 is a record low year for U.S. tornadoes || What's Up With That?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Question of Principle: How Does Obama's Statement on Israel Square With the Drone Policy?

Which version do  you like better? I couldn't decide.

Version 1:

On November 18, 2012 President Obama said: "And there’s no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders." So how does that square with President Obama's policy of drone strikes in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen especially since U.S. drone strikes have killed innocent civilians in those countries alongside militant? Does the white house think that Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen should tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from the U.S.?

Version 2:

On November 18, 2012 President Obama said:"And there’s no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians. " So how does that square with President Obama's policy of drone strikes in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen especially since U.S. drone strikes have killed innocent civilians in those countries alongside militant? Does the white house think that Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen should tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from the U.S.?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Single Most Important Essay of My Undergraduate Career

The most important essay I was assigned to read in undergrad and definitely the most influential passage is excerpted below. I found the Bach analogy beautiful:
 "If these historical realities are not taken into account, if the texts are not encountered in all of their historicality, then there is no understanding, either of the texts as texts or of the apostle from whom they have come. What Isaac Stern once said about playing a Bach violin concerto also applies to understanding Paul and his letters. Various interpretations, he said, can be called "right"; but equally, many interpretations have to be called "wrong." No reading of a text, whether from Bach or from Paul, that neglects its historicality--that is heedless of its origins, genre, form, structure, and intentions, however imperfectly these may be discerned--can be credibly called an interpretation of that text. Whether engagement with the text and a concern to understand its claims are subordinated to an interest, say, in "the effects of reading" it, or whenever the text is simply taken over for one's own purposes, whether theological, aesthetic, or political, then the text is not being interpreted but confiscated. An interpreter must be, first of all, an advocate for the text."
 Furnish, Victor P. "On Putting Paul In His Place." Journal of Biblical Literature 113.1 (1994): 12-13.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Snowden nominated for Nobel Peace Prize to correct 2009 mistake of nominating Obama

Via Politico:
A Swedish sociology professor has nominated Edward Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize, saying that awarding the former NSA employee would correct Nobel Committee’s mistake in giving the award to President Barack Obama in 2009.

According to a translation of the letter published by the Daily Mail and, UmeƄ University professor Stefan Svallfors wrote the committee that Snowden has made the world safer in releasing information about United States surveillance.
Edward Snowden Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Constitution Can't Check Despots, the Founders created a new God, and Christian Constitutionalists are powerless to stop it

An old, but good essay on choosing between the tyranny of the constitution and liberty. He's admittedly a little uncertain on theology as he gets near the end. Here are some excerpts:

Excerpt 1: The Constitution Can't Check Despotism
What I am suggesting is that the Constitution, if the letter of its law was obeyed, would be preferable to the government we have now. But we can't go back. If the Constitution itself was so good, it would have been obeyed from the very beginning. But near the very beginning, it was violated, and has been violated ever since. Whether from a self-perceived higher ethical law, or expediency, the Constitution will always be violated. It has not been, is not now, nor ever will be, a check on despotism. Yes, Americans will still think of themselves as free and therefore morally superior to other nations. But many public school students in the Soviet Union also used to think of themselves as free. Illusion is not reality, not even the grand illusion of our Constitution.
Excerpt 2: Why Isn't the Constitution followed?
But it is not followed. Why is this so? It is because the ethical/religious views of the people and their rulers take precedence.
Excerpt 3: Who is the New God? What Created Separation of Church and State?
North places great importance on the Oath, alleging that this, not the First Amendment, created the Separation of Church and State. No federal officer would have any "religious test," that is, will not be bound by an oath before the Trinitarian, Christian God. This was an about-face from the practice of all twelve of the states that sent delegates to the Convention (and, ironically, consistent with the principles of the one state that was a no-show: Roger Williams' Rhode Island.) The leading Founders were not orthodox, Trinitarian Christians, and their new Constitution was a break with the Trinitarian, Christian God and a new Covenant with a new God, the "People."
Excerpt 4: The Challenge for Christians
Dr. North's approach may be incomprehensible to the unreligious. But his challenge to American Christians is remarkable. Western Christians, even if they try to resist the spirits of the age such as Marxism and Darwinism, must still confront their own Newtonian Modernism, and their innate belief that humans can somehow figure out the universe and play at least some role in saving themselves and society, instead of relying wholly on the infinite grace of the Triune God. 
Why the Constitution Isn't the Bible || James Leroy Wilson

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Conservative Icon Wrote This? F.A. Hayek on Compulsory Health Care

Sounding like Newt Gingrich and Barack Obama wrapped in one, the conservative--not libertarian--intellectual Friedrich Hayek pretty much defends the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature legislative "achievement" in the realm of health.

"There is little doubt that the growth of health insurance is a desirable development. And perhaps there is also a case for making it compulsory since many who could thus provide for themselves might otherwise become a public charge. But there are strong arguments against a single scheme for state insurance; there seems to be an overwhelming case against a free health service for all." -- F. A. Hayek.
Hayek wrote this on page 298 of his magnum opus, The Constitution of Liberty (1960). We could put this another way.
This isn't about putting government in charge of your health insurance; it's about putting you in charge of your health insurance. Under the reforms we seek, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.
These words may sound familiar. They are from President Obama's 2009 speech calling on Congress to pass ObamaCare.
And this little nugget from North (not Hayek) here:

Hayek was much closer to conservatives than to libertarians. He was much closer to Russell Kirk than he was to Murray Rothbard. Neither Kirk nor Hayek believed in economic law. They both rejected the idea on the same basis, namely, their commitment to some form of social evolution. Each of them would come down on the side of free-market institutions, for they did not trust the operations of state bureaucracies, but always on the basis of a pragmatic argument that society had chosen these free market institutions voluntarily. Then the question arises: "How can we stop the state from invading and capturing the institutions of society?" Or this: "How can we stop the politicizing of social institutions by the state?" Hayek had no philosophical answer, and neither did Kirk.
 F.A. Hayek: Obamacare's Defender || GaryNorth

Priceless Author Asks Why People Aren't Signing Up for Medicaid

John Goodman on the disconnect in the health care reform discussion:
Consider this:

· About one in every four individuals who are eligible for Medicaid in this country has not bothered to enroll.
· About one in five employees who are offered employer-provided health insurance turns it down; among workers under 30 years of age, the refusal rate is almost one in three.

Think about that for a moment.

Millions of people are turning down (Medicaid) health insurance, even though it’s free! Millions of others are turning down their employers’ offers. Since employees pay about 27% of the cost of their health insurance, on the average, millions of workers are passing up the opportunity to buy health insurance for 27 cents on the dollar.

You almost never read statistics like these in the mainstream media. Why? Because they completely undermine health policy orthodoxy: the belief that health insurance (even Medicaid) is economically very valuable, that it improves health and saves lives, and that the main reason why people don’t have it is that they can’t afford it.

Welcome to the huge disconnect in health reform.
Why The White House is Panicking About Obamacare || Forbes

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ted Weiland on the overturning of DOMA

Ted Weiland:
This ruling could have never occurred had the government not got into the (lucrative) business of licensing (making legal) heterosexual marriages, what was already lawful under Yahweh's jurisdiction. That which provides the license, ultimately makes the rules for what it licenses.

Had the framers not failed to expressly establish government upon Yahweh's immutable morality, secular government would have never been allowed to provide licenses for marriage and this ruling would have never occurred. In fact, not one of today's Supreme Court Justices would be on the bench if Bible law were the rule and thereby Biblical qualifications the standard for judges.

For more, see online Chapter 6 "Article 3: Judicial Usurpation." Click on my name, then our website. Go to our Online Books page, click on the top entry, and scroll down to Chapter 6.
Original Comment here

Monday, June 3, 2013

Antony Flew: Libertarian

Many Christians know of Antony Flew because he was an atheist and debated Christian apologist William Lane Craig and resurrection scholar Gary Habermas. But Flew was also a friend of liberty and an advocate for political and economic freedom.

Here are some of his writings in "The Freeman," a publication of the Foundation for Economic Education.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Says Ron Paul Is Right

So he didn't actually say that (via The Root). But what did happen was that he bolstered a point Ron Paul made almost a year ago:

Despite the gains of the abolition of slavery and the three Reconstruction amendments to the Constitution, Jim Crow segregation had pervaded every aspect of American society since the 1890s. And the military was no exception. When black men volunteered for duty or were drafted following the Japanese sneak attack, they were relegated to segregated divisions and combat support roles, such as cook, quartermaster and grave-digging duty. The military was as segregated as the Deep South.
Ron Paul on C-Span in 2012 (via Politic365):
“But when you look at the problems, the government is basically the problem, even with the racial problems,” Paul said on the Washington Journal.

“First it endorsed and legalized slavery. And then it comes along and it was the Jim Crow laws that provided the integration. Who was the biggest segregationist? It was our military up until after World War II.”

The claim that the U.S. Armed Services was the “biggest segregationist” was one that was generally correct, an expert told

“Ron Paul is correct.  There was a policy of segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces during the Second World War,” said William Bundy, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College.  “However, that is only part of the story.”

“I would say to you that the matter of race in the military is kind of a long story that is not told very easily. And it really stretches back to the Revolutionary War to where we are today.”

Bundy, himself being the third African-American naval officer to command a submarine, said that military can be seeing as a reflection of society.

“Life for Blacks in the service has generally reflected the treatment of Blacks in the population of these United States,” he wrote in an e-mail.

While several ships were segregated in the Navy during World War II there were also Navy groups that started to integrate, he explained.

Bundy pointed to an article written by Morris J. MacGregor, Jr. for the U.S. Army Center of Military History which explained that Army policy during World War II was also a policy of segregation, and at times defended it in the name of “military efficiency.”

However, the Army was also the biggest employer of minorities during the Second World War.
Additionally, Bundy explained that black military achievement and advancement has existed throughout U.S. Armed Services history, pointing to The Red Tails, otherwise known as the Tuskegee Airmen serving in World War II, and the U.S.S. Mason, a naval warship with a predominantly African-American crew.

“However, it was Eleanor Roosevelt, President Harry Truman and others who lead change during and after the war over the objections of leaders who were wed to their times that embraced the separation of the races,” Bundy said, noting that Truman signed Executive Order 9981 which called for the desegregation of the military.

Saying Lincoln Freed the Slaves is Like Saying Obama Ended the War in Iraq

Saying Lincoln freed the slaves is like saying Obama ended the war in Iraq.

Truth be told...

...Lincoln never thought blacks to be equal and once said that if he could "save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it."
Myth #1: Lincoln invaded the South to free the slaves. Ending slavery and racial injustice is not why the North invaded. As Lincoln wrote to Horace Greeley on Aug. 22, 1862: "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it"
Congress announced to the world on July 22, 1861, that the purpose of the war was not "interfering with the rights or established institutions of those states" (i.e., slavery), but to preserve the Union "with the rights of the several states unimpaired."
Myth #3: Lincoln championed equality and natural rights. His words and, more important, his actions, repudiate this myth. "I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races," he announced in his Aug. 21, 1858, debate with Stephen Douglas. "I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position." And, "Free them [slaves] and make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this. We cannot, then, make them equals."
In Springfield, Ill., on July 17, 1858, Lincoln said, "What I would most desire would be the separation of the white and black races." On Sept. 18, 1858, in Charleston, Ill., he said: "I will to the very last stand by the law of this state, which forbids the marrying of white people with Negroes."
 Lincoln supported the Illinois Constitution, which prohibited the emigration of black people into the state, and he also supported the Illinois Black Codes, which deprived the small number of free blacks in the state any semblance of citizenship. He strongly supported the Fugitive Slave Act, which compelled Northern states to capture runaway slaves and return them to their owners. In his First Inaugural he pledged his support of a proposed constitutional amendment that had just passed the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives that would have prohibited the federal government from ever having the power "to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State." In his First Inaugural Lincoln advocated making this amendment "express and irrevocable."
Lincoln was also a lifelong advocate of "colonization" or shipping all black people to Africa, Central America, Haiti--anywhere but here. "I cannot make it better known than it already is," he stated in a Dec. 1, 1862, Message to Congress, "that I strongly favor colonization." To Lincoln, blacks could be "equal," but not in the United States.
...And President Obama lobbied the Iraq government to stay in longer but got booted out.
The last U.S. troops left Iraq in December 2011, while Barack Obama was president, but the “status of forces agreement” that governed the departure of U.S. troops was actually negotiated between Iraqi and U.S. officials in late 2008, under the auspices of President George W. Bush.  In fact, none other than the Huffington Post actually pointed out that as president, Obama was actually interested in keeping troops in Iraq past the agreed-upon 2011 deadline, explaining that “the president ultimately had no choice but to stick to candidate Obama's plan -- thanks, of all things, to an agreement signed by George W. Bush.” Just six months before the Bush deadline, Obama tried to foist 10,000 U.S. troops on the Iraqis past 2011.
So Republicans and Democrats are being disingenuous when they say these men did these things.

Reagan's Homeboy: His Legacy Stinks

I really enjoyed writing this article. Here's an excerpt:
The former budget director under President Ronald Reagan said something you don’t hear often from people who have worked under Reagan or from conservative politicians.  That is, that the conservative idol and oft-referred to leader of a bygone era left a “horrible legacy.”

“The thing that came out of the Reagan era, which really was a horrible legacy, was the notion that deficits didn’t matter and the rationalization that we were only trying to starve the beast and if the deficit got big enough or persistent enough or extended far enough in time, surely they would wake up and shrink the government,” said David Stockman, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1981-1985, at the Cato Institute Wednesday.
 Read More: Former Reagan Official: "Reagan Era Was A Horrible Legacy" || Politic365

The chief and most original insight is his analysis of Reagan's defense build up and its connection to the Iraq war of the 1990s. I never heard anything like it before this lecture. It's pure gold. Read it for yourself.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Medea Benjamin: Before Obama, Expose AIPAC 2013

Medea Benjamin protested President Obama's speech today at National Defense University. She protested AIPAC a few months ago: 
Women’s anti-war group Code Pink and its co-founder Medea Benjamin were outside the Washington Convention Center protesting the conference, along with many other protestors, ranging from 25-75 supporters. The Orthodox Jewish group Neturei Karta and activists of Palestinian heritage joined Code Pink as well.

“Israel is a terrorist state. Israel is a racist state,” one chant shouted by protesters went.

The bulk of their activities included protesting on a loud mic against Israeli settlements in the West Bank, against a new war with Iran, and, in their view, the dangerous policies and influence of AIPAC on the U.S. Congress. Mention of Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist who was crushed by an Israeli Defense Force bulldozer in the Gaza strip in the early 2000s, was also made (whether Corrie was intentionally killed is disputed).

“You can’t even get a job in Israel if you side with peaceniks,” one male protestor said.

Benjamin also approached House Unmanned Systems Co-Chair McKeon both as he entered the conference and hours later when he exited the conference. She shouted “drone master” as he walked in the conference, and followed him (with other Code Pink members beside her) to his ride as he walked out.

Code Pink didn’t capitalize on all members of Congress walking by.

For example, Rep. Connolly stood on the lower half of the steps right in front of the where the group was protesting for almost 30 seconds. He appeared to be looking out into the street waiting for his transportation to arrive. He was surrounded by no one and visibly in plain sight to the group. The group said nothing to Connolly – a sign that the group couldn’t recognize the congressman.

At other times, the protestors were off the mark identifying government officials.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) who is a U.S. Senate hopeful seeking to fill Secretary of State John Kerry’s former seat, was mistaken as a senator.

“Senator Markey are you signing on to [the] Menendez bill?” one protestor shouted into the portable mic. “Please do not sign. We do not need another war!”

“The Democrats and the Republicans were wrong about Iraq. They were wrong about Afghanistan. They’re wrong about Iran,” he continued to shout at Markey.

When Rep. Levin left the building, a male protestor and self-identified Michigander shouted “Detroit doesn’t have housing! Detroit does not have free healthcare! Israel has free healthcare, free education. Why is Detroit suffering, Representative Levin, when you want to give three to six billion dollars every single year? Why is Detroit now being taken over?”

Levin replied: “With the health care act you’re going to have healthcare.” Levin was referring the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Later, after the shouter shared more complaints, in unison the protestors shouted at Levin “work for us, not for Israel.”

“That’s a great example of how AIPAC has bought our Congress and taken our tax dollars out of cities like Detroit that are dying,” Benjamin said, adding that there’s no money for education and healthcare in Detroit
“And yet, a congressmen from Detroit comes here to bow down before AIPAC and say ‘of course, we’ll give you three billion dollars. Of course what Israel wants Israel gets,” she continued.

The group had better success with Franken who at least said he would study the bill (S. Res. 65) they wanted him to vote against.

When Benjamin told Franken that “we don’t need another war,” Franken replied that “but we also don’t need a nuclear weapon,” most likely referring to Iran.
 Read the whole story here: Medea Benjamin at Occupy AIPAC/Expose AIPAC 2013 

Monday, May 20, 2013

FBI says Holder, Obama had nothing to do with Assata Shakur decision

The Federal Bureau of Investigation says that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder had nothing to do with putting the first black woman on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list for a crime she allegedly committed 40 years ago.

The move also makes Assata Shakur, previously known as Joanne Chesimard — once active in the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army in the United States at different times over 35 years ago — the first woman to be placed on the list.

“Both AG and the President has nothing to do with the selection of the list or the approval and have not been involved since the creation of the list from 2001,” an FBI public affairs official told Politic365.

However, the official added that President Obama and Holder are aware of Assata Shakur being added to the list.

The FBI conducts an “internal review” when determining who goes on the list and President Obama and Attorney General Holder aren’t necessarily involved, the official explained.

FBI: Obama, Holder Weren't Involved in "Most Wanted Terrorists" Decision || Politic365

A commenter points to this article: "Statement of Facts in the New Jersey Trial of Assata Shakur"

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Keynesianism as False Religion

"Keynesianism is the economic equivalent of whatever religion you don't believe in."
Me, The Goins Report

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Pro-Gay Marriage Reader - A Constitutional Perspective

The Constitutional Case for Same-Sex Marriage ||

A strong argument that, while acknowledging that the libertarian notion that the best deal would be for the government to get out of the marriage business, also acknowledges the Jim Crow-like 2-tier marriage system is here and needs to be dealt with. Marriage for me, but not for thee, it argues, is not how things should be until the government gets completely out. Perhaps its most powerful argument, however, is that "[b]y outlawing same-sex marriage, the states are essentially forbidding religious institutions to marry whom they with."

The Moral and Constitutional Case for a Right to Gay Marriage ||

The Chairman of the libertarian-think tank the Cato Institute argues that "equal protection of the law" applies to homosexual/same-sex couples as well. Levy says that no compelling reason why the government sanctions marriage for heterosexuals and not for homosexuals has been given. Additionally, he argues that reasons to ban same-sex marriage - it would weaken the institution of marriage - isn't helped by that very ban, and offers legal suggestions to strengthen conservatives beloved institution.

The take-away from both articles:

The strongest case, it seems, for the pro-same-sex marriage crowd is to argue that banning gay marriage is a violation of the "equal protection of the law" granted in the 14th Amendment. Also, both writers are libertarians it seems they really wish - Levy uses the term "regrettably" - the government didn't get involved in marriage in the first place.

Bonus: Can We Really Get The Government Out of Marriage?

A piece giving a historical overview of the government's involvement in marriage, including property, taxes, and all sorts of benefits and protections, and acknowledges that "marriage licenses" are relatively new in human, or at least Western, history.

Bonus: When Did Laws Denying Same-Sex Couples Marriage Licenses Become Unconstitutional?

Another history lesson. This time, it answers when denying marriage licenses to gays became unconstitutional.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Put Hetero-Sexual Marriage on Every Ballot and See If It Passes

In an otherwise useless article, comedian Dean Obeidallah says that we should put man-woman/traditional marriage on the ballot and see if it passes:
So I say forget putting a question on the ballot about legalizing same-sex marriage. I propose we put a question on the ballot in each state asking voters whether straight marriage should be legal. I think there is a good chance straight marriage might not pass in every state (especially in those with high divorce rates such as Nevada, Maine and Oklahoma).
I'm against gay marriage--and straight marriage too || CNN

The Anti-Gay Marriage Reader - Written by Gays

Reasons to Oppose the Institution of Marriage ||

A progressive argument from a faction within the LGBT movement against the institution that, in their view, is the tool of power and privilege. Rails against pro-gay marriage proponents who want a slice of the imperialist pie.

The Libertarian Case Against Gay Marriage || Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is a Rothbardian, atheist, and openly gay man. He is also one of the leading thinkers in the American libertarian movement and the anti-war right. Here he reminds gays that like its heterosexual counterpart, gay marriage existed before the state intervened in the marriage realm; and argues that gay marriage will hurt gays.

The take-away from both articles:

Both a hardcore old-school progressive and libertarian agree: in the early days of the gay rights movement, "[the prospect of freedom—not only from traditional moral restraints but from legal burdens and responsibilities—is part of what made homosexuality appealing." The modern gay rights movement is far from its anti-state roots on this issue. Somewhat ironically, old-school progressives are more for "limited government" on this issue than conservatives are.

Great Idea: Put "traditional" man-woman marriage on the ballot.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Former Reagan Official: Bain Capital less likely to exist in a free-market

( -- Bain Capital, the company Republican Presidential Candidate spearheaded for XX years, is a product of years of a rigged crony capitalist system, not true free-markets, says former Reagan budget director David Stockman.

[Editor's Note: The link is, admittedly, from an article published in October 2012.]

Senate Select Intelligence Committee views "Real-Time Film" of 9/11 Attacks on Benghazi

Washington ( -- After a long, near-five hour wait, the Senate Select Intelligence Committee emerged from their first closed hearing with intelligence officials on Thursday evening (November 15, 2012) tight-lipped. But of what they could say, the committee acknowledged that they did view a rendition of events put together by the National Counter-Terrorism center.

"We saw a real-time film put together by NCTC of exactly what happened," Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Thursday evening.

For almost four hours, members of the committee held a closed hearing with intelligence officials. Scheduled witnesses included Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, acting CIA director Michael Morrell, FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce, Undersecretary of State for Management Pat Kennedy, and National CounterTerrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen.

All but one member of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee was in attendance at the closed hearing Thursday evening, Feinstein said, but did not name who.

"I’m not going to tell you what questions were asked or what answers given. This is just the first step in the inquiry," Feinstein said.

But Feinstein announced that the committee will hold another two full hearings, when members of Congress come back to work, presumably after the Thanksgiving holiday, and said she anticipates a public hearing to "make our findings that can be unclassified released."

"I think it was a good hearing," Feinstein said. "I think it gave us an idea as to the depth and breadth of this future areas to question. We have just to continue to do so and plow through this until we believe we have enough information."

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said that he learned that "mistakes were made" and that "we got to learn from that."

"Our membership asked some very hard and very tough questions of our witnesses today and were going to continue to do that at our subsequent hearings Mrs. Chairman outlined," Chambliss said.

Chambliss praised the "professionalism" of all who were involved in the hearing, namely, the "men and women who are in the intelligence committee and who are in the armed services who were involved here obviously as well as the State Department."

"There were some very heroic acts that took place," Chambliss said. "That does not in any way minimize obviously the fact that we lost four Americans."

General David Petraeus is scheduled to testify Friday morning. To her understanding, General Petraeus went to Tripoli and interviewed many of the people involved. Additionally, she said the purpose of the closed hearing was Benghazi and she was not willing to comment on the FBI investigation.

When asked if she could say when the Intelligence Comittee obtained the film "to help us with the timeline of what they knew and when they knew it." Feinstein didn't comment on when the film was put together, but noted that the film was a "composite" created from "a number of sources."

"It is real time," Feinstein said, adding that it does begin from before the incident started and goes through the "incident and the exodus."

When asked whether Ambassador Stevens was in the film, Feinstein again didn't comment.

While she did not comment on whether the version of events she learned Thursday held up to the version presented by the Obama administration shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks or if what she learned called into question some of the talking points being raised at the time, she avoided answering those questions not based on the confidentiality of the matter but because there are three more hearings ahead and she doesn't "have all the information" she needs.

However, she said that "a lot of light" was shown on what happened on September 11, 2012 at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

"One of the things that we want to do is give any real opinions or analysis because we dont have all the facts," Feinstein said.

"We are in effect fact finding," she continued.

When asked if the CIA asked for back up from Special Ops units in the region and in Europe, she was informed on what "assets were there and what assets were not there" in Benghazi.

[Editor's Note: This is previously unpublished news]

How Rome Ruled

Rome ruled through a very small elite group and through alliances with local kings and leaders. The Romans controlled political, economic, and military structures to benefit themselves at the expense of others. Imperial theology contributed to this domination system. This theology, with appropriate rituals, claimed that Rome and the emperor ruled at the will of the gods. Rome's emperor manifested their presence, will, and benefits on earth.

The Gospel is a counter-narrative that helps its audience to live a counter-cultural, alternative existence in the midst of such claims and commitments. The Gospel asserts that it is God's world, not Rome's (Matthew 11:25; 28:18); that God's reign and presence are manifested in Jesus, and not in the emperor (1:23;4:17); that God's blessings extend to all people, not just the elite (5:3-12); that Jesus, not Rome, reveals God's will.
Warren, Carter. "The Gospel According to Matthew." Introduction. The New Interpreter's Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha. By Walter J. Harrelson. Nashville: Abingdon, 2003. 1746. Print.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Things President Obama Has Done Better Than Bush

President Obama is a lot better at drone strikes:
The London-based TBIJ reports that under President Obama CIA drones strikes in tribal parts of Pakistan have occurred at a rate six times faster than his predecessor George W. Bush in parts of Pakistan, as of December 2012. That rate was about once every five days during his first term.

From 2004 to 2013, there were 365 drone strikes. Out of those, 313 were under the Obama administration.

Under President Obama, 2,152 people were reported killed, of whom 290 were civilians. By contrast, 438 people were killed under President Bush, of whom 182 were civilians.

Under Bush, more children were killed by drone strikes (112) than under Obama (64) in his first term.

The 300th drone strike occurred under President Obama in early December 2012. The first drone strike to occur under his watch was just three days into his presidency, which is reported to have killed 12 civilians.
 President Obama is a lot better at deportation:
-Although President Obama supports setting a path to citizenship for many illegal immigrants, his administration deported a record 1.5 million of them in his first term.
-In addition, the latest data released by the government in recent days show that an unprecedented 409,849 people were deported for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
The increase from the previous year occurred despite policy changes ordered by Obama to reduce the deportations of otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants.

-Roughly 55 percent, or more than 225,000 people, deported in the past year were convicted of crimes such as drug offenses and driving under the influence. Immigration officials note that they deported nearly twice as many convicted criminals as in the year before Obama took office. That year, in 2008, criminals made up about a third of all deportations.
 President Obama is a lot better at running up the national debt:
-According to the treasury department’s count, the debt has grown $5.3 trillion since Obama took office in 2009, compared to $4.9 trillion in Bush’s eight years. (Politifact, September 2012)

-“Less Than Two Months Into President Obama’s Second Term, New Numbers Show The National Debt Increased By More Than $6 Trillion Since He Took Office. It’s The Largest Increase To Date Under Any U.S. President.” (Mark Knoller, “National Debt Up $6 Trillion Since Obama Took Office,” CBS News, 3/1/13) 

-Under Obama, The National Debt Has Increased By $6.1 Trillion, From $10.6 Trillion To $16.7 Trillion – An Increase Of 57 Percent. (US Department Of The Treasury,, Accessed 3/13/13)

President Obama is a lot better at running trillion-dollar deficits:

-“All The Trillion-Dollar Deficits Have Taken Place Under President Obama.” “The federal government ran up a $293 billion deficit in the first quarter of fiscal 2013, which ended Dec. 31, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated Tuesday. The government’s fiscal year starts on Oct. 1st. At this pace, the deficit would be on pace to top $1 trillion for the fifth-straight year in 2013. All the trillion-dollar deficits have taken place under President Obama.” (Eric Wasson, “First-Quarter Deficit Was $293 Billion, CBO Says,” The Hill, 1/8/13) 
[Editor's Note: This list will be updated every once in a while until the end of President Obama's second term, and whenever some clever reporter reveals an interesting fact about the two presidents.]

WCF Chapter One "Of Holy Scripture" Sunday School (Sept.-Oct. 2021)

Our text for Sunday School (also "The Confession of Faith and Catechisms") Biblical Theology Bites What is "Biblical Theology...