Saturday, January 30, 2010

Osama bin Laden reads Noam Chomsky: Who Knew?

From the New York Times story on Osama bin Laden's recent attack on the US for being responsible for global warming, we have Osama giving a big shout out to Noam Chomsky.
"In the message broadcast on Friday, Mr. bin Laden veered away from his traditional vows to inflict death and destruction on the United States, and instead discussed climate change, globalization and monetary policy in a message that he said was directed to “the whole world.”

He called for a worldwide boycott of American goods and the dollar. He faulted the United States for failing to sign the Kyoto Protocol, which sought to curb global warming by restricting greenhouse gas emissions. And he offered a word of praise for Noam Chomsky, the American linguist and liberal political activist.

“Noam Chomsky was correct when he compared the U.S. policies to those of the Mafia,” Al Jazeera quoted Mr. bin Laden as saying. “They are the true terrorists, and therefore we should refrain from dealing in the U.S. dollar and should try to get rid of this currency as early as possible.”

What do you make of that? It is interesting that the radical left (Chomsky), the eco-fascists and the radical Islamists all find the rhetoric of global warming (which purportedly is caused by industrial civilization) useful in attacking the United States and calling for the destruction of capitalism in general and the US economy in particular. So we have an external enemy of Western civilization and two internal enemies, all of whom justify violence in the cause of attacking the West.

Ideologically, one might think that these movements make strange bedfellows, that they have nothing in common. But there is one common thread: the belief that Western civilization is evil and that revolution is the way to progress. We can observe the following interesting points on the basis of these facts.

1. All these movements agree that violent revolution is necessary in the face of a Western civilization that is evil from top to bottom. In the case of the Islamists, who are partly external enemies, they focus on trying to rouse the Muslim population within the West to rise up in revolt.

2. They all agree that no matter what emerges from the rubble it must inevitably be better than what now exists.

3. They all agree that Christianity has had great influence on Western civilization and that this influence is evil.

4. All these groups (and others) find the global warming issue convenient because it accuses the industrialized countries of being enemies of the planet.

5. All are anti-capitalist. When Hugo Chavez attacked capitalism as the root of all evil in the world at the climate change conference in Copenhagen, he received a standing ovation.

The left, the global warming alarmists and the Muslims seeking to overthrow the West are all, thus, committed to revolution, anti-Christian, pro-global warming alarmism and anti-capitalist. Despite the many things on which they differ, these things unite them in what could be called the spirit of the French Revolution or the spirit of '68.

Conservatives, naturally, reject all of this agenda as utopian, naive, violent, negative and presumptuous.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Osama bin Laden: Eco-warrior

Just when you thought that the credibility of the pro-global warming alarmists could sink no further, they got an endorsement from someone sure to make them look even, well, sillier.

Not wanting to be left out of any America-bashing parties, Osama bin Laden emerged from his cave to profess undying and sincere interest in the global warming crisis.

So let the debate begin: which of the following eco-warriors has the least credibility?

(a) Phil Jones
(b) Al Gore
(d) Rajendra Pachauri
(d) Osama bin Laden

Hmm . . . tough call - could it be a four way tie?

The Times of London Accuses Pachauri of Lying

The Times of London keeps the stories coming on the Climategate scandal and the related IPCC scandal. The credibility Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the official UN organization that governments all over the world rely on for their assessment of the risks associated with global warming, and its head is now in tatters. The pressure on Pachauri to resign is mounting. This is shaping up to be the biggest science scandal in history.

Today we read that Rajendra Pachaui, head of the IPCC, knew about the spectacular Himalayan glacier claim being false months before Copenhagen but kept quiet about it and then lied about it.
"The chairman of the leading climate change watchdog was informed that claims about melting Himalayan glaciers were false before the Copenhagen summit, The Times has learnt.

Rajendra Pachauri was told that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment that the glaciers would disappear by 2035 was wrong, but he waited two months to correct it. He failed to act despite learning that the claim had been refuted by several leading glaciologists.

The IPCC’s report underpinned the proposals at Copenhagen for drastic cuts in global emissions.

Dr Pachauri, who played a leading role at the summit, corrected the error last week after coming under media pressure. He told The Times on January 22 that he had only known about the error for a few days. He said: “I became aware of this when it was reported in the media about ten days ago. Before that, it was really not made known. Nobody brought it to my attention. There were statements, but we never looked at this 2035 number.”

Asked whether he had deliberately kept silent about the error to avoid embarrassment at Copenhagen, he said: “That’s ridiculous. It never came to my attention before the Copenhagen summit. It wasn’t in the public sphere.”

However, a prominent science journalist said that he had asked Dr Pachauri about the 2035 error last November. Pallava Bagla, who writes for Science journal, said he had asked Dr Pachauri about the error. He said that Dr Pachauri had replied: “I don’t have anything to add on glaciers.”"

Donna Laframboise is going through the Noble Peace Prize winning 2007 IPCC report, which is supposed to be based on peer-reviewed scientific studies and is billed as summing up the state of the question based on science done worldwide for the benefit of policy makers. She is making lists of references to non-peer reviewed articles and papers from environmental advocacy groups.

Here is her list of references to publications by Greenpeace. Here is her list of references to publications by the WWF. More lists are sure to come.

The IPCC report is starting to look like a compilation of rumours, starry-eyed predictions by fundraisers for environental groups, opinions from eco-fascists and everything but scientific research.

If I was a politician or policy maker who relied on this UN body to provide non-political, objective, sober, scientific analysis I would be extremely angry at being taken for a fool. Unless, of course, I had known what was going on all along and simply played along in order to deceive the ordinary people and fleece them financially.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Pro-life Ad for the Super Bowl

The "dictatorship of relativism" watch is pretty busy these days. You may have heard of the Super Bowl, which marketers expect to be watched by about 100 million Americans. That is a pretty big platform, I'm sure you would agree. But some people are upset that a pro-life ad featuring college sensation Tim TeBow will be allowed to air on the broadcast.

The radical left is losing the debate on abortion. Anti-abortion opinion has risen sharply in the past year, thanks in part to a reaction against the most radically pro-abortion president in American history. According a recent CNN poll, only about 18% of Americans now believe that abortion should be legal in all circumstances, as it in fact is now in both the US and Canada.

So what does the left do, having lost the debate? It shows its true fascist colors by attempting to stifle free speech and keep the people from hearing the truth. There is no hope for the pro-abortion forces except to intimidate and silence those who speak the truth and that is the opposite of classical, nineteenth century liberalism: it is fascism. And the left is less and less liberal and more and more fascist as time goes on.

The National Organization of Women has attempted to pressure CBS into refusing an ad featuring college quarterback sensation Tim Tebow, whose mother refused the advice of doctors and did not abort him when she was pregnant with him. You can read the details here. The headline of this post by Jim Hoft says it all: "Heartless Progressives to Tim TeBow: We Wish You Were Never Born."

(For the sports scoop on Tebow, go here. TeBow is the son of missionary parents and he was home-schooled. He is handsome, poised, well-spoken and has a strong Christian faith and strong moral convictions. He also happens to be one of the best college quarterbacks in America and is a projected first round draft pick.)

Now, Tim TeBow's mother made a choice. But does NOW honor that? No. Why? Because it was the wrong choice in their view. For the radical feminist movement, "choice" is a euphemism for "choice to abort." It does not mean a choice for life, only a choice for death. But in matters of life and death, that is, in matters of killing and bloodshed, choice is evil. There should be no choice to murder. A society that tolerates private murder for the convenience of the strong is a barbaric society and there is nothing good, wholesome or liberal about the choice to abort.

The evil of the choice to abort corrupts everything. It leads to attempts to supress freedom of religion and free speech. It provides a precedent for killing the elderly, the handicapped and those society deems to be unworthy of life. It glorifies killing as the solution to social problems and leads to eugenics while justifying racism.

It is very telling that ads objectifying women as sex objects can appear on the Super Bowl without feminists complaining, but ads that advocate choosing life offend them. That tells you who is really on the side of women.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Out of the Mouths of Babes . . . and New Atheists!

This excerpt is from an interview in which retired, Unitarian minister Marilyn Sewell interviews New Atheist author Christoper Hitchens. Sometimes Hitch says things that are so obviously true that they form a sharp contrast to the usual blather about evil, materialism, the failings of religious leaders etc..

Let's listen in:
Sewell: "The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make and distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?

Hitchens: I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.

Sewell: Let me go someplace else. When I was in seminary I was particularly drawn to the work of theologian Paul Tillich. He shocked people by describing the traditional God—as you might as a matter of fact—as, “an invincible tyrant.” For Tillich, God is “the ground of being.” It’s his response to, say, Freud’s belief that religion is mere wish fulfillment and comes from the humans’ fear of death. What do you think of Tillich’s concept of God?”

Hitchens: I would classify that under the heading of “statements that have no meaning—at all.”
"Let's go someplace else" - I love that response. But just once, all together now, let's all say it: "Go Hitch! Preach it!"

HT to Rod Dreher and Kathyrn Jean Lopez

Theology of the Body #4: Scripture and Metaphysics

This is #4 in an occasional series on John Paul II's Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body.

One of the distinctive features of John Paul II's theology of the body is the way he combines philosophical sophistication in both contemporary phenomenology and also Thomism with expertise in biblical theology. John Paul II occasionally engages in detailed exegesis in TOB but he constantly engages with the text of Scripture; his method is more synthetic than analytical.

He is doing biblical theology by interpreting texts in the context of Scripture as a whole, rather than focusing on placing the text against the backdrop of the historical situation in which it was written (or edited). He is not against historical exegesis, the literal meaning or the historical-critical method, but his goal is to understand the canonical witness as a whole in terms of what it says about human sexuality and marriage. In this respect he stands very clearly in a tradition that extends back through Barth, Calvin, Luther, Thomas, Augustine and Athanasius.

Genesis 1-2 as Basis for a Philosophical Anthropology
In Part I, John Paul begins with Christ's words in Matt. 19 in reply to the Pharisees' question about divorce in which he directed them back to Gen. 1-2 to discern the truest and deepest intention of God concerning marriage. In this post, I want to examine how he grounds a Thomistic metaphysical doctrine of the human person in Gen. 1-2. Protestants may not be used to using biblical theology to under gird a metaphysics, and certainly not a Thomistic one, but that is the Pope's project here.

The second (older) creation narrative is the Yahwist account (named thus because it uses the covenant name for God revealed to Moses in Ex. 3:14)
“One can say that this depth is above all subjective in nature & thus in some way psychological. . . When we compare the two accounts, we reach the conviction that this subjectivity corresponds to the objective reality of man created ‘in the image of God’” (TOB, p. 137)
So JP II is saying that Gen 2 explains what Gen 1 means by our having been created in God’s image. What JP II is doing here is seeking to root his Christian anthropology in metaphysical reality, rather than in human reason or will. The truth about marriage is thus rooted in the ontological nature of man as created in God’s image. He is saying that Jesus, in appealing to ‘the beginning’ was rooting the truth of historical man (i.e. our experience of fallenness) in the boundary between primeval innocence and historical man’s consciousness of sin. Gen. 2 deals with the boundary (and connection) between original innocence & original sin, the state of integral nature and the state of fallen nature.

Modern Subjectivity

In his penetrating study of Wojtyla, Kenneth Schmitz argues that the most significant challenge to which Wojtyla’s personalism responds is a certain understanding of personal subjectivity and interiority that gained wide currency in the modern age. A particular emphasis on subjectivity, Schmitz shows, emerged from the sixteenth century onward together with the rise of a mechanistic account of nature.” (At the Center of the Human Drama, p. 131-7) Schmitz writes:
“The mechanistic account of human nature in the wake of Bacon & Descartes denied the interiority of material beings and consequently the kinship of the human person with the subrational natural cosmos. Alone in an inhospitable world that had been deprived of inner meaning, the freedom of the conscious subject becomes ‘absolute,’ detached from sources of meaning: ‘This, then, is the genesis of the modern sense of self as subjectivity. We might say that subjectivity is the self-defense by which consciousness fends off a world either hostile to its inhabitation or at least without companionate room for it, even while consciousness subverts the integrity of that world by its imperious demands. The modern shift gave to the human subject an absolute status precisely in its character qua consciousness; for human consciousness not only sets its own terms but the terms for reality itself.” (Kenneth Schmitz, At the Center of the Human Drama, pp. 135-6)
JP II versus Modern Subjectivity
He is saying 2 things in response to modern subjectivity:

1. That metaphysics cannot be rejected so easily as modernity thinks because man is a being whose historical existence is rooted in revealed, pre-historical theological truth

2. That the metaphysical truth of who man is is rooted in Genesis, (i.e. in the Word of God), not in mere philosophical speculation, which means that Christians cannot accept modern subjectivity with its starting point in the autonomous subject. This is so because Jesus drew a normative conclusion about our historical existence from our original state.

So we have a biblical-theological basis for a philosophical anthropology which is identical with the Thomist view of man. John Paul II rejects the modern dualism of mind and body and roots his understanding of subjectivity, not in the mind as opposed to the body as modern Cartesian philosophy does, but in the body itself, which speaks a language of its own and is not merely the tool of the person, but is the person.

This rooting of anthropology in biblical theology allows John Paul II to transcend the modern dualism and yet, at the same time, to give a personalist account of the human being that incorporates what is good about the modern emphasis on subjectivity and what we could call the integrated personhood of the human person.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Two Lists: Why Abortion is So Common Today

Here is a personal testimony from a convert from atheism to Christianity about the damage done to women by the contraceptive mentality. Jennifer Fulwiler, who operates a blog called Conversion Diary, posted this at Inside Catholic. Here is the most interesting part of her post. The last sentence I quote, in particular, is quietly powerful.
"My staunch support of these views did not soften until a few years ago, when a religious conversion after a life of atheism led me to the Catholic Church. I began researching the ancient Judeo-Christian understanding of human sexuality, in which the sexual act is seen as being inextricably entwined with its potential for creating new human life. The more I considered this point of view, the more I questioned my long-held views. In fact, I started to see the catastrophic mistake our society had made when we started believing that the life-giving potential of the sexual act could be safely forgotten about as long as people use contraception.

The gravity of this error became clear to me when I came across research that Time magazine published in 2007, citing data from the Guttmacher Institute that showed the most common reasons women have abortions. It immediately struck me that none of the factors on the list -- not feeling capable of parenting, not being able to afford a baby, not being in a relationship stable enough to raise a child -- were conditions that we encourage women to consider before engaging in sexual activity.

It was then that I could finally articulate the source of the anger I'd felt all these years. In every society, there are two critical lists: acceptable conditions for having a baby, and acceptable conditions for having sex. From time immemorial, the one thing that almost every society had in common is that their two lists matched up. It was only with the widespread acceptance of contraception in the middle of the 20th century, creating an upheaval in the public psyche in which sex and babies no longer went hand-in-hand, that the two lists began to diverge. And now, in 21st-century America, they look something like this:
Conditions under which it is acceptable to have sex:
  • If you're in a stable relationship
  • If you feel emotionally ready
  • If you're free of sexually transmitted diseases
  • If you have access to contraception
Conditions under which it is acceptable to have a baby:
  • If you can afford it
  • If you've finished your education
  • If you feel emotionally ready to parent a child
  • If your partner would make a good parent
  • If you're ready for all the lifestyle changes that would be involved with parenthood
As long as those two lists do not match, we will live in a culture where abortion is common and where women are at war with their own bodies. Considering the disparity between the two lists made me begin to see the level of damage that contraception and the mentality it produces have done to women as individuals and as a group."
Just think of the following statistics, (which are quoted in the article). According to the Guttmacher Institute (which is hardly a pro-life institution), 70% of women who use a method of contraception with a 99% effectiveness rate for 10 years will have an unwanted pregnancy. And half of all women getting abortions were using contraception. You can see why abortion is absolutely necessary once society embraces the contraceptive mentality and separates sex from procreation. Without it, the lifestyle of casual sex outside of marriage would be unthinkable for most people.

The Dictatorship of Relativism

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), a leftist union of university professors, is conducting a witch hunt to exclude Christian universities from the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC). It wants to ban them, exclude them or force them to become just like all the other universities in Canada and it wants to do it in the name of tolerance, diversity and freedom. Sometimes it is hard to remember whether one is reading an George Orwell novel or the daily newspaper these days. Apparently some of the animals in the AUCC are more equal than the others, according to CAUT. See the story in MacLean's here.

Adrian McNair, writing in an article entitled "Clamping Down on Canadian Christians" in yesterday's National Post, comments:
"According to an article in Maclean’s Magazine’s “on campus” website, an organization called the Canadian Association of University Teachers [CAUT] is alleging that Trinity Western University, a Christian University, violated academic freedom. The reason? Because TWU describes itself as a “a faith-based institution, one inspired by Christ’s life and guided by his teachings.” More than that, it requires faculty to sign a “Statement of Faith” annually, in a document that outlines the “philosophical framework to which all faculty, staff and administration are committed without reservation.”

At first glance, one might conclude that CAUT is correct. The concept of forcing faculty to submit to a series of absolutist statements [belief in the bible, in one infinitely perfect god, that Jesus Christ was a real man, and in “the bodily resurrection of the dead; of the believer to everlasting blessedness and joy with the Lord, of the unbeliever to judgment and everlasting conscious punishment.”] seems at odds with the premise of a learning institution as being one of an open-ended perspective on the Universe.

Anti-Christian Legislation Defeated by the House of Lords: Long Live the Aristocracy!

Last night the British House of Lords demonstrated why it deserves to exist as an institution separate from the House of Commons by defeating (by a vote of 216-178) the most outrageous provisions of the monstrous "Equality Bill," which would be more appropriately entitled "The Government Take Over of Churches and Secuarization Act." See the story in the Daily Telegraph here.

Gerald Warner on his blog at the Daily Telegraph site explains in a post entitled: "Equalities Bill: Church leaders defeat Government over gay staff"
"Last night’s defeat by the House of Lords of the aggressively anti-Christian provisions in Harriet Harman’s Equality Bill should not be allowed to gloss over the malevolent intent of the House of Commons in promoting this legislation. The impertinently intrusive provisions of the Bill demonstrated that the state has acquired pretensions far beyond its legitimate scope and urgently requires to be cut down to size.

The Bill attempted to force churches to employ people even if they do not lead lives consistent with the teachings of the Christian faith. On a narrow interpretation the Bill could even have compelled the Catholic Church to ordain women as priests. The Bill’s supporters want churches to employ homosexuals and transsexuals. The theology of the Catholic Church condemns homosexual practices as one of the Four Sins Crying to Heaven for Vengeance and, as with any other mortal sin, teaches that those who die unrepentant face damnation.

By what conceivable logic could that same Church be expected knowingly to employ people committed to such conduct? As Baroness O’Cathain asked in the Lords debate: “How would a rape crisis centre operate if it was forced to employ male counsellors? This is the state trying to tell people who they can and can’t employ.” That is the nub of the matter and it goes far beyond religious issues: the increasingly totalitarian tide of intrusive state control must be rolled back.

The early draft of the Harman Bill illustrated the infatuated self-conceit of its sponsors, by attempting to impose female ordination upon the Catholic Church. In Catholic theology the priest, during the Mass, acts in persona Christi at the moment of consecration; that is to say, he takes on the personality of Christ who, in his human nature, is male. The Church, as infallibly confirmed by John Paul II, does not possess the power to ordain women. Nor can that power be conferred on it by the House of Commons.

There is something comically pathetic about the pygmy Parliament on the Thames, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Brussels, attempting to interfere in such spiritual matters. And look at who these people are who attempt to reconfigure the morality of Christian churches: MPs are seen as a bunch of thieves who have robbed the country blind. Many of them are leaving Parliament to avoid paying back illicit expenses or because they cannot live under a more regulated regime that imposes on them the financial morality commonplace in other institutions.

. . . snip . . .

It is not just Christians who are harassed by the control freakery of Parliament. It is a serious threat to democracy as we have known it. To paraphrase a famous parliamentary resolution of 1780, “the power of the Commons has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished”. Whether that diminution is implemented by a new Bill of Rights or some other device, our traditional liberties require that this encroaching tyranny be curtailed."

Warner is right and he does not overstate the case one iota by portraying it as an attack on Christianity by the Labor government. The sooner the election is held the sooner Britain can breath free again. More cheerful news today came from a Social Attitudes Study showing that the people of the UK (as opposed to their political masters) are shifting to the right. Janet Daley summarizes:

"The study shows that a majority of people now believe that the poor should take more responsibility for looking after themselves, and that taxation should not be increased – significantly, not even in order to raise spending on services such as health and education. Only one in five now think that unemployment benefits are too low (compared with nearly 54 per cent in 1994). Suppport for wealth redistribution even among Labour voters has dropped from two thirds to less than half. In other words, twelve years of Labour government have tested to destruction the idea that all social problems can be solved by government seizing a higher and higher proportion of people’s earnings either to fund state-run services or to provide income for those who are not working."
There is no doubt that the Leftist agenda has been given a good try over the past 13 years in the UK and it is clear now that NuLabor is an awful lot like old labor only with less morality and more hostility to Christianity. Now if Dave Cameron would only catch up to the people and start acting like a principled conservative, rather than a mere politician.

Hopefully, better days are ahead for the mother of Parliaments and the longsuffering British people. We need to pray for a revival of faith in Britain, which is the only hope for a country tormented by atheists and a paternalistic, bureaucratic, managerial state.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Global Warming, Y2K and Neopagan Religiosity

The science is interesting, but I'm not a scientist and so I rely on experts to tell me what the science says. But just because I'm not an expert that does not mean I abandon critical thinking and give up asking questions. Scientific experts are only authoritative when they are unanimous and it has become clear to me over that past few months that the experts on climate change are far from unanimous.

A group of political activists of a certain ideological bent have seized control of the media narrative on Global Warming and have cooperated with their fellow travelers in academia and government bureaucracies to concoct an "artificial crisis" that can be exploited in order to achieve certain political goals on a global scale (such as world government, transfer of wealth from the West to Third World governments, the undermining of capitalism, etc.). But what really interests me is the way in which the advocates of Global Warming alarmism have tapped into a vein of religiosity that seems to be worldwide, perennial and only superficially overcome in the West, the world center (until recently) of Christianity. In other words, I'm fascinated by the theological aspects of the Global Warming scare.

Here is a post from a blog I have recently found, which I recommend. The blog is "There is No Frakking 'Scientific Consensus' on Global Warming" and the website, "" of which it is a part is run by Donna Laframboise of Toronto. The post is entitled "The Big Picture: the Y2K Lesson." I'd like to quote 3 paragraphs, the middle one of which I find theologically interesting.
" It's easy to lose perspective when one is in the thick of things. Imagining how the situation will appear to a disinterested observer ten - or 100 - years hence is immensely helpful.

Certain ideas resurface again and again throughout human history. One of these is the notion that the world as we know it is on the brink of collapse. That the gods, Mother Nature, or our own technology, will wreak havoc - will, in essence, punish us for our transgressions.

Yesterday I read a number of news reports written prior to January 1, 2000 - the day the Y2K computer glitch was supposed to bring the world to its knees. I've long assumed that the reason we didn't encounter massive problems was because lots of time and money was devoted to preventing such an occurrence. But in recent months more than one source has argued persuasively that countries that paid almost no attention to the matter escaped similarly unscathed. [See, for example, the opening pages of Flat Earth News]"
Do I think she is right that in a few years people will look back on this period of AGW alarmism much in the same way as they now do on the Y2K hysteria? Well, yes I do. Yesterday was the day I became convinced that the AGW alarmism is all hype and no substance. Climategate was bad enough and the investigation of the Science and Technology Committee of the British House of Commons into the East Anglia University Climate Research Unit promises to turn up a lot more dirt and provide needed perspective on the dirt uncovered so far. But when I saw the pro-GW Times of London beginning to publish stories about the sloppy mess that the Nobel Peace Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports are and how they are actually summaries of opinions and baseless predictions from environmental activist groups instead of actual, peer-reviewed, scientific papers based on repeatable measurements or experiments, I lost any remaining faith I might have had in the Al Gore Church of Climatology. (For a quick summary of the recent revelations calling the IPCC reports into question, see here.)

[Let me be clear: I don't dispute that the planet may be in a long term warming cycle; it seems obvious that it has since the end of the last ice age. But such a macro trend does not mean there are not cooler and warmer periods lasting decades or centuries at a time. Also, I don't deny that human civilization has influenced the temperature of that planet; I just don't know if that is true or if the amount of influence is enough to cause all (or even many) of the effects the alarmists predict like the melting of the ice caps, London under water etc. And I also don't know if anything we could do at this stage (assuming the alarmists are right) would make a significant difference or not short of reducing the total human population to under a million and taking civilization back to a hunter-gather level. What I do dispute and deny is that there exists a scientific consensus based on irrefutable, repeatable scientific experiments to support the alarmist claims. How that would make me unscientific is beyond me, but that is the charge made against people like me. I find that charge more indicative of the unscientific mentality of those making it than an accurate description of my position.]

But the most interesting question is not the conspiracy theory aspects of who profits and who started this to attain what ends. Clearly, this is more than a conspiracy of a few individuals who created it with an understanding of how far it would go. In fact it does not look like a conspiracy in that sense. It appears to me to be out of control and rolling along because of a perfect storm of religious predisposition meeting post-Cold War Leftist restlessness meeting postmodern relativism infecting academic science meeting Anti-Globalization/Anti-Capitalism. What I'm interested in here is the religious predisposition part. Note again that middle paragraph quoted above:

"Certain ideas resurface again and again throughout human history. One of these is the notion that the world as we know it is on the brink of collapse. That the gods, Mother Nature, or our own technology, will wreak havoc - will, in essence, punish us for our transgressions."

This is a notion as old as human beings (or at least as old as fallen human beings). It is the basis of paganism, whether of the simpler animistic kind (witchcraft, totemism etc.) or the more complex Greco-Roman pantheon of gods. We humans are vulnerable. We transgress. We kill and eat animals. We kill (and sometimes eat) each other. We betray. We steal. We deceive. A consciousness of sin may lie buried deep in the human psyche but it is always there. And so we fear Nature, the gods, Mother Earth, the Sun, the Moon or whatever. Nature is "bigger" and than any of us and "immortal" and so we fear it.

As Christianity loses its grip on the popular imagination of the West, the likelihood of this kind of religiosity returning in some fashion was almost 100%. Chesterton predicted it and he was not the only one. The discredited secularization thesis is now recognized to be a symptom of the hubris of the modern mindset that exalted man to the pinnacle of nature and declared his fitness to assume the role of god. But we will always need the gods. Christians know why; we are hard-wired by our Creator for worship. As mortals who can imagine immortality we will never be satisfied with materialistic naturalism - the new paganism of the modern world - even when it is dressed up in "dialectical materialism," "scientific socialism," or Dawkins' "Blind Watchmaker" style of evolution.

In fact, as the implications of belief in evolution sink in we naturally gravitate to a neopaganism, whether of the Nietzschean kind or of the AGW kind. In the new ecological religion(s) we offer sacrifices of trillions of dollars for reparations, we flagellate ourselves for our lifestyles, we seek to atone for our sins by recycling and taking the bus and we moralistically criticize our neighbors for driving too large a vehicle or watering their lawns too often.

To demonstrate that neopaganism can even borrow ideas from Christianity and adapt them to their new religion, we see the advent of the Medieval concept of indulgences in the new global religion of AGW in the form of carbon credits. We claim that Western countries are polluting the environment and pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and thus causing Global Warming. So what to do? The logical thing would be to stop pumping out carbon dioxide. But this is beyond logic. We don't actually stop pumping out the carbon dioxide: we simply impose a tax on ourselves and give the money to charity. This has no effect whatsoever on the atmosphere of the earth, but it makes us feel ever so much better. Our sins have been atoned for. You might summarize modern "progress" this way: "Medieval warm period out; Medieval indulgences in."

Never mind for a moment what Marxist motivations may lie behind the transfer of wealth or the global tax on carbon that is being sought so earnestly. Think about the motivations of the millions of people who willingly accept this scheme. They aren't Marxists. Why do they meekly accept it? Faced with the loss of modern industry and a return to the 17th century economy, many people think paying a hundred billion over 10 years sounds like a good deal. But why pay it if it isn't going to stop Global Warming anyway? Well, the point isn't really to stop Global Warming in a strict sense. We will make some token feints in that direction. In truth, the only real consensus is that all proposals made so far, including what was on the table in Copenhagen, are insufficient to stop Global Warming. One gets the impression that we could never make enough sacrifices to satisfy this god.

But that is just fine with the devotees. The point is that making substantial but not crippling sacrifices achieves the real effect sought: the alleviation of our troubled environmental consciences. School children from the earliest ages are now indoctrinated into environmental guilt and no wonder that, when they grow up, they vote for politicians who promise to take actions designed to assuage that guilt. It is one of the primary felt needs of citizens of modern, Western countries. It fills a void created by the exclusion of Christianity from the public school system and the public square in general.

Global Warming alarmism fills a genuine religious need for guilt management in late modern society. No conspiracy is necessary. There is a consensus. It is not a scientific one, but a religious one.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Journalism versus Advocacy: The Unscientific Approach of the Global Warming Alarmists Illustrated

We can be thankful for the honest and critical reporting in the Times of London and the Daily Telegraph in the UK on recent revelations of fraud, error and deception among global warming alarmists. The sloppiness and mendacity of much of the global media over the past few years is exemplified by a blog entry in the news blog "the two way" at the US National Public Radio website.

This blog entry reveals a totally unscientific mentality in its transparent attempt to twist the facts, understate the seriousness of the allegations and deny the implications of the recent IPCC panel's admissions that one of its most spectacular predictions was wrong.

To review the agreed upon facts: In 2007, the IPCC report claimed that the glaciers in the Himalayas, which are the sources of major rivers providing drinking and irrigation water for over half a billion people in Asia, are melting so fast they would be gone by 2035 (20 years from now). Now the IPCC has admitted that the skeptics and critics who have never accepted this story were right all along and that there is no actual scientific research to support this wild-eyed claim at all.

So how does the pro-global warming, liberal, advocacy media spin this dicey situation? Watch and learn the difference between journalism and partisanship. My comments in [red and square brackets].

"One of the most shocking revelations from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in 2007 was that the glaciers in the Himalayas could melt away entirely by 2035. That would mean, in a mere 25 years, large parts of Asia would lose the rivers that sustain the farms and lives of half a billion people. [It is worth noting that the IPCC won the Nobel Peace Prize for its work on global warming. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for not being George Bush. Hmmm . . . any trends apparent here? Nah, there is no such thing as a leftist bias in "science," is there? Well, no, but is "global warming" science?]

The factoid was buried in one of the voluminous reports from the IPCC, which won a Nobel Peace Prize for its work. The statistic never made it to the all-important summary for policymakers. But even so, it has been creeping out into polite society. [This makes it sound like this was a little detail that hardly anyone noticed. But it was one of the scary stories used extensively to influence public policy and decisions about spending trillions of dollars of your money.]

In fact, NPR has repeated it on several occasions. For example, a year ago we covered a congressional hearing at which Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass) discussed it with former Vice President Al Gore. The two talked about the shocking implications of losing the headwaters of the Irrawaddy, the Ganges, the Yangtze, the Mekong and the Yellow rivers. [It was a prime talking point used by scare-mongers like Gore. Please note, everyone now agrees that the conservatives in the US Senate were quite right and prudent to disbelieve Gore and the IPCC on this point.]

OK. Deep breath. After a government minister in India expressed his skepticism about the assertion recently, the head of the IPCC went and looked it up. Oops. It's wrong. [O0ps? O0ps? This is all you can say about this scandal? Oops? And, for the record, the "head" of IPCC did not go and "look it up." The skeptics showed that the claim was baseless and the mainstream media embarassed the IPCC into fessing up. That is a little different than "looking it up."]

The IPCC has issued a statement saying that the organization's fact-checking system broke down in this instance.

How did this happen? A letter being published online later today in Science Magazine says the IPCC picked up the date from a report by the World Wildlife Fund, which has since corrected its error. WWF picked up the date from a quote in the popular science magazine, New Scientist. But the final clue to the mystery may lie in an obscure study that discussed the global fate of glaciers in the year 2350. Flip around a few of those digits and... [Flip around a few digits? This is supposed to be the "gold standard of science," an internationally peer-reviewed summary of the scientific consensus world-wide. This makes it sound like a Grade 7 science poster.]

That's not quite the end of the story, though. The IPCC stands by its overarching message, [Now, just stop right there and ask yourself if anything - any facts, any research, any arguments, any logic, any new information - could ever persuade the IPCC to change its mind on this issue. If not this, then what? We were wrong in our facts but our conclusions stand. Did the facts ever have anything to do with the conclusions in the first place?] which is that the world's glaciers are rapidly melting and bad things will happen to people if that continues unabated. But the demise of the Himalayan glaciers is, thankfully, not just a few decades away. [Maybe it is a million years away and maybe it will never happen. Maybe it will only happen in a parallel universe. And this rot is what our government is supposed to base its decisions on about issues such as making the Alberta tar sands no longer economically viable? One last point, the comments on this blog post are uniformly hostile to the "Scandal? What scandal?" stance taken in the blog. Many are cogent and well-worth reading.]


Further Comments:
Now the pro-global warming alarmism journalists like Geoffrey Lean and Mark Lynas are calling for the resignation of Dr. Pachauri, head of the IPCC. It appears that their response to the string of embarrassing revelations of errors and deceptions from Al Gore to Climategate to the IPCC is to let a few heads role, do some PR and carry on business as usual. Charles Clover in the Times Online clearly attempts to make Pachauri the sacrificial lamb, but in doing so exposes what the UN and the pro-global warming alarmists were willing to put up with until they got caught. Read the following indictment of Pachauri, which is more damning than anything I've read from a AGW skeptic.

"Pachauri already stands accused of poor judgment for defending the report’s general conclusions about Himalayan glaciers after they were called “alarmist” by India’s environment minister, Jairam Ramesh. Pachauri accused Ramesh of relying on “voodoo science”. Pachauri looks pretty silly now.

The IPCC chairman also stands accused of making policy statements — for example, encouraging the world to eat less meat — when he is meant to be an adviser to policy makers, not one himself.

Pachauri also seems to have an awful lot of jobs. He already has a full-time job as director general of the Indian Energy and Resources Institute, which seems to benefit from UK government funding. He is also an adviser to Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and the Chicago Climate Exchange — all of which stand to benefit from carbon trading. His predecessors, Bert Bolin, a Swedish scientist, and Bob Watson, now chief scientist at Defra, were part-time, but they put enormous effort into the job. How much time is Pachauri putting in? It doesn’t appear to be a lot.

If we are to have the best possible predictions about climate change, urgent decisions need to be taken. The agreeable but gaffe-prone Pachauri should accept it would be wise to walk now, so some heavy-hitters can step in and prevent a disastrous slide in the IPCC’s credibility. The sooner, the better."

Notice that the focus is not on how to reform the IPCC and restore its lost scientific credibility, but on how to manage the PR disaster and keep everything going on just as before. One can't resist asking of the final sentence: "better for whom?" From what Clover has said in his article it sounds like "better for Dr. Pachauri's bank account."

What is Scripture?

In an excellent post over at the "Evangel" blog at First Things, Paul T. McCain reminds us that:

Read the whole thing. It is a word that both liberal and conservative Evangelicals desperately need to hear.

The Times of London Keeps the Heat on the IPCC

It is getting hard to keep up with the stories on revelations of the global warming fraud and deception. It appears that the Times of London is not going to let go of the ankle of the IPCC until more answers are forthcoming. Good for them; to see these issues migrate from blogs to the mainstream media is heartening. It means that the end is near for the scammers. Today's story, entitled "UN Wrongly Linked Global Warming to Natural Disasters," begins as follows:

"The United Nations climate science panel faces new controversy for wrongly linking global warming to an increase in the number and severity of natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods.

It based the claims on an unpublished report that had not been subjected to routine scientific scrutiny — and ignored warnings from scientific advisers that the evidence supporting the link too weak. The report's own authors later withdrew the claim because they felt the evidence was not strong enough.

The claim by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that global warming is already affecting the severity and frequency of global disasters, has since become embedded in political and public debate. It was central to discussions at last month's Copenhagen climate summit, including a demand by developing countries for compensation of $100 billion (£62 billion) from the rich nations blamed for creating the most emissions."

The meme is the same - the sloppy and irresponsible claims of the IPCC - but the Times has now upped the ante by asserting that the fraudulent science threatens the viability of the whole global warming agenda of transferring wealth from the West to Third World governments. Now they are striking at the heart of the whole AGW agenda and exposing the real seriousness of all the charges about mistakes in this report and over-reaching claims by that spokesman etc. They are raising the possibility that the foundations of the whole global warming alarmist position may be crumbling.

Climategate Was No Blip: Lies and Deception are Coming to Light Everywhere

Yesterday, the Daily Telegraph published an article: "Pachauri: the real story behind the Glaciergate scandal" in which further shocking facts are revealed about the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), its chairman, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, and the recent revelation that the alarmist predictions in the 2007 IPCC report that the Himalayan glaciers would probably melt by 2035. (See also the story in the Times Online.)

The original scandal was that there was no scientific basis whatsoever for this alarmist claim that the glaciers in the Himalyas were about to disappear. We need to understand that 40% of the world's population obtains its drinking water from rivers nourished by the glaciers in the Himalyans, so this prediction scared the dickens out of people in the East, especially India. Then, when the Indian government's expert, Dr Vijay Raina, denounced the IPCC report as "baseless," Dr. Pachauri (who won the Nobel Prize along with Al Gore for global warming work), lambasted him as practicing "voodoo science."

It turns out that the voodoo is on the other foot now and the bullying practices of the AGW alarmists are exposed yet again. Dr. Pachauri has now been forced to admit that: "the statement in its 2007 report that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 had no scientific basis, and its inclusion in the report reflected a "poor application" of IPCC procedures." Now the Indian government is demanding that he apologize for his "voodoo science" remarks about Dr. Vijay Raina.

What is startling is the revelation of the financial milking of the alarmism by the alarmists.
"What has now come to light, however, is that the scientist from whom this claim originated, Dr Syed Hasnain, has for the past two years been working as a senior employee of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), the Delhi-based company of which Dr Pachauri is director-general. Furthermore, the claim – now disowned by Dr Pachauri as chairman of the IPCC – has helped TERI to win a substantial share of a $500,000 grant from one of America's leading charities, along with a share in a three million euro research study funded by the EU."

. . . snip . . .

"The year after the IPCC report was published, however, Dr Hasnain was recruited by Dr Pachauri to head a new glaciology unit at TERI. In a matter of months, TERI was given a share in a $500,000 dollar study of melting Himalayan glaciers funded by a US charity, the Carnegie Corporation. It is clear from Carnegie's database that a key part in winning this contract was played by Dr Hasnain's claim that most glaciers in the region "will vanish within 40 years as a result of global warming".In May 2009 TERI was also given a share in a three million euro project funded by the EU. Citing the WWF's 2005 report, the EU set up its "High Noon" project to study the impact of melting Himalayan glaciers. It was particularly keen to foster alarm over the Himalayas as a means to win Indian support for action on climate change at last year's Copenhagen conference."
So one of Dr. Pachauri's employees cooks up a scare mongering myth and Dr. Pachauri sells it to a credulous world. Then the two of them laugh all the way to the bank.

The terms of reference of the investigation of the British Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee have now been released. James Delingpole is amazed that it may not be an automatic cover up after all. They are setting out to find answers to the really important questions:
"But here’s the really surprising part: it’s planning to ask the right questions.

— What are the implications of the disclosures for the integrity of scientific research?
— Are the terms of reference and scope of the Independent Review announced on 3 December 2009 by UEA adequate (see below)?
— How independent are the other two international data sets?

This is very heartening news for taxpayers, rationalists, and everyone who believes in the integrity of the scientific process. "

Obviously, the thorough investigation of the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit is of the utmost importance to the entire world because a searchlight shined on the inner workings of the AGW alarmists is bound to help in answering the burning question of whether world governments are actually facing a real emergency in the form of anthropogenic global warming or not. At stake is trillions of dollars, the possible loss of national sovereignty to world government and the possible re-deployment of vast sums away from helping the poor to fight a non-existent problem - not to mention the fraudalent enrichment of themselves at our (the tax payers') expense by climate hustlers.

Sex as Glue

In a fine article, "Is Sex That Important?" the NT scholar John Nolland, Academic Dean of Trinity College, Bristol, uses a striking and effective metaphor for sex by comparing it to glue.
"To put it crudely, saying ‘the two will become one flesh’ implies that sex is for gluing two people together into a single unit. In other words, sex makes its own vital contribution to the formation of the psychosomatic unity of husband and wife. A man and a woman well glued together is God’s pattern for the main kind of fundamental human unit within society.

I say ‘God’s pattern for the main kind of fundamental human unit within society’, because Scripture elsewhere makes it quite clear that there are particular people and people in particular kinds of situations for whom singleness not marriage is their proper state of being.

If sex is the glue for marriage, then sex outside of marriage is using the glue in the wrong way.
. . . snip . . .

To make his particular point Paul points to yet another kind of unitive activity. He talks about the uniting that happens when we become Christians. We are united to Christ. ‘United to the Lord’ is how he puts it in v 17. ‘Your bodies are members of Christ’ is how he puts it in v 15. Also in v 17 he says that one ‘becomes one spirit with [the Lord]’. This last piece of language ‘one spirit’ is specifically intended to be a counterpart to the Genesis language of marriage as ‘one flesh’.

Paul is clearly after a sameness and a difference between the kind of unity involved in sex and that involved in being linked to the Lord. To say that one is physical and one is spiritual would partly catch the difference, and would be well reflected in Paul’s juxtaposition of ‘flesh’ and ‘spirit’.

For Paul, however, ‘flesh’ is not just physical. It is rooted in the materiality of our bodies, but it catches up as well attitudes and values and impulses that we would be more inclined to describe in psychological terms and in terms of the whole person.

This is profound and theologically responsible exegesis. Thinking of sex as glue helps us conceptualize how and why sex outside of marriage is so destructive, when sex within marriage is so healthy and life-affirming. I especially applaud his clarity on the NT meaning of the word "flesh" and the way that he shows how this word does not permit us to interpret sin and sanctification in a way that allows us to focus on the spirit only or on the body alone, but only on them as two aspects of one being. Clearly, a realist metaphysics is implied here in which the being of the person is more than disembodied mind or the sum total of the choices made by the will. One is reminded of John Paul II's theology of the body at this point.

He also (without mentioning them in particular) demolishes the misleading rhetoric of certain left-wing Evangelicals who call themselves "Red Letter Christians" and claim that their preoccupation with socialist politics and lassitude toward sexual morality is justified by appeal to the words of Jesus. Aside from the hubris of implying that the rest of the Church is somehow beneath them because they alone have the priorities of Christ and the theological error of interpreting the words of Jesus as more inspired and more authoritative than the rest of Scripture, they also happen to be wrong on a simple, factual level.
"One kind of index is to compare how often he talked about sexual matters with how often he talked about other matters. I choose for comparison Jesus’ teaching on love and Jesus’ expression of concern for the poor. Nobody doubts that Jesus cared passionately about these two areas.

So what do we find? Fourteen references to love, thirteen plus a couple of extras for concern for the poor and twenty-six references to matters concerning sex. Maybe sexual issues did matter quite a bit to Jesus!"

Read it all here. It is brief, thoughtful and theologically excellent. HT to Virtue Online.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Obama and the Revival of American Conservatism

A couple of weeks ago I predicted that by year end Obama would be less popular than Sarah Palin and that there would be rumblings about a primary challenge to him from within his own party. Well, things are moving faster than anyone could have imagined at the beginning of the year.

1. The victory of Republican Scott Brown in the Massachusetts special election to fill the seat mace vacant by the death of Ted Kennedy is something of a miracle. Nobody saw this coming. The Kennedy family had held this seat since 1952 and the last Republican elected to the senate from Massachusetts was in 1972. Massachusetts has 37% of its voters registered as Democrats and only 12% registered as Republicans. But Independents outnumber both parties combined at 51%. So this was a signal of where the independent vote, that was so crucial to electing Obama, is going this year. Given that conservatives outnumber liberals in every state in the union and that Democrats have to win big among independents/moderates in order to beat the Republican, the forecast looks bleak for Democrats in November 2012. I now think the Republicans will win control of the House and take a real run at the Senate, although they probably won't gain a majority there until 2012 when more seats are up for election.

Victor Davis Hanson discusses the backlash against Obama's policies that made this stunning result happen.

2. The first poll showing Obama trailing a potential 2012 challenger was published today by PPP
For the first time in one of our monthly polls looking ahead to the 2012 Presidential election Barack Obama trails one of his hypothetical opponents, albeit by the smallest of margins.
Mike Huckabee has a 45-44 advantage over Obama, aided largely by a 44-38 lead with independents. There continues to be no evidence of any negative fallout for Huckabee after murders of police officers committed by an ex-Arkansas inmate whose sentence he had commuted. His 35/29 favorability breakdown is actually slightly better than it was in November before that incident.

Mitt Romney does the next best, trailing Obama 44-42. His favorability is 36/32, and he's the most popular Republican among independents (41/32). Romney actually matches Huckabee with GOP voters this month and gets over 50%, ending a trend in his numbers that had seemed to spell difficulty for snagging a Republican nomination.

Sarah Palin trails Obama 49-41 largely because she loses 14% of the Republican vote to him, making her the only one of the GOP candidates we tested who Obama could get double digit crossover support against. At the same time Palin continues to be the most well liked potential GOP candidate within her party- at 71% favorability. Her problem appears to be that the Republicans who don't care for her will go so far as to vote for Obama instead of her."
3. In an interview with ABC News after the shocking Scott Brown election upset in Massachusetts, Obama gave a strong indication that he does not intend to pivot and turn from big spending, high taxation, and continued government take over of businesses to focus on job creation, fiscal responsibility and moderate social policies. Surely his advisors have advised him that if he intends to "pull a Clinton" and move to the political center that this is the best moment to do it. He could pivot and deflect criticism from the left by appearing to be honoring democracy by paying attention to the voters of Massachusetts, a clearly Democratic state. But he is apparently going to go full steam ahead toward the ice berg.

In an interview with ABC News, Barack Obama has expressed contrition for his neglect of the ordinary voter.

“If there’s one thing I regret,” he told his television audience, “it’s that we were so busy just getting stuff done …that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are.” In fact, what Mr Obama and his congressional allies lost the “sense of” was not so much the need to speak to voters as the need to listen to them. But the wording of Mr Obama’s apology is significant: he seems still to believe that he can cure any national discontent and resolve any argument in his favour simply by speaking. His faith in his own rhetorical power is clearly undiminished. If he has not prevailed, it is because he has not spoken often or “directly” enough.

Yet his reference to the “American people (and) what their core values are”, suggests that he is aware that his health reforms and his philosophy of big government generally, are at odds with the genuine political values of many Americans. Has he gathered that no amount of eloquent speech-making will actually reconcile his intentions with the US voter’s fundamental views? And that his European-style elitist concept of the role of government - that those in power should simply do what they believe is best and disregard the opinions of ordinary people - will not wash in the US?"

It appears that the winds of change are blowing in America but they are about changing things back to the way they were before the most liberal president in American history took office. The headline of this story from the New York Times says it all: "Obama, With Defiant Tone, Vows to Push Agenda." I predict that Obama's presidency will do more to revitalize conservatism in America than anything in the past 100 years.

The Intolerance of the Homosexual Rights Movement

This article is taken from the website of Christian Concern for Our Nation, a conservative Christian group that is resisting the culture of death and the increasing persecution of Christians in the UK. Readers of this blog know that the Labor government of the past decade has pushed the envelope of cultural Marxism to the fullest extent possible in its quest to weaken the influence of the Christian Church and weaken the family. See their website for a 3 minute video on the proposed Equality Bill that could be used to force churches to hire practicing, unrepentant homosexuals as staff, among other travesties.

This story below, however, refers to Obama's America in which the same direction is being followed by the Obama administration as the Blair-Brown government. Thank God that the Obama regime is unlikely to last as long as the Labor one. Based on events this week, it looks like a lame duck already and within 12 months its ability to do damage will likely be contained. But this story gives a glimpse into where it would go if left to its own devices.

My comments are in red and [square brackets].

"A new nominee for the American Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is reported as saying that private religious beliefs that adversely affect homosexuals should not be tolerated.

Chai Feldblum, an openly lesbian Law Professor at Georgetown University (US) and political activist has been nominated by President Barack Obama to serve on the EEOC. In her article in a legal journal she wrote:

‘Just as we do not tolerate private racial beliefs that adversely affect African-Americans in the commercial arena, even if such beliefs are based on religious views, we should similarly not tolerate private [so the "commercial arena" equals "private beliefs"? This is gross intolerance; in fact, much more intolerant than Christianity has traditionally been toward homosexuals.] beliefs about sexual orientation and gender identity that adversely affect LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] people.’ [So just to get this straight: she is saying that even my "private" belief that her belief is wrong "adversely affects her."]

Professor Feldblum, has worked for the American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Campaign Fund, groups that promote homosexual and abortion ‘rights’, and is known to have created in academic circles the term ‘identity liberty’ as it conflicts with ‘belief liberty’. [Identity liberty is an outgrowth of identity politics and just as spurious.] According to her view, a person’s sexual identity ‘rights’ must routinely trump ‘belief liberty’ which is currently guaranteed by the US Constitution’s First Amendment (Freedom of Speech). [She is pretty open about her totalitarian opposition to freedom of speech and her ideology is extremely dangerous. It is what we would have had if either World War II or the Cold War had been lost. She is a straightforward enemy of Western freedom and of the US Constitution.]

The nominee wrote that she recognises that elements of the homosexual agenda may infringe on Americans’ religious liberties. However, she argues that society should ‘come down on the side’ of homosexual equality at the expense of religious liberty. She said the conflict between the two is ‘irreconcilable.’ [Living together is possible from a Christian perspective, but not from her perspective. She reminds me of the radical Islamist hatred of Western liberty. It is "irreconcilable" with her totalitarian agenda.]

‘For those who believe that a homosexual or bisexual orientation is not morally neutral, and that an individual who acts on his or her homosexual orientation is acting in a sinful or harmful manner (to himself or herself and to others), it is problematic when the government passes a law that gives such individuals equal access to all societal institutions,’ she wrote. [I wonder if she wants us to wear a distinguishing mark on our clothing so we can be singled out for spitting on and public humiliation? Or would she be content (for now) with expelling us from all the professions, higher education, government and the legal system? This kind of hatred directed toward a defined group is the usual prelude to some sort of organized attack.]

‘Protecting one group’s identity liberty may, at times, require that we burden others’ belief liberty. [OK, if this is true, then I suggest that it be homosexuals whose liberty is taken away. I don't think this is true; I think we can tolerate homosexuals. But she doesn't think she can tolerate Christians. So I can't see how she leaves us any choice but to defend ourselves with the democratic vote.] This is an inherent and irreconcilable reality of our complex society.

‘But in dealing with this conflict, I believe it is essential that we not privilege moral beliefs that are religiously based over other sincerely held core, moral beliefs. [This is dishonest. She isn't talking about "privileging anything except her own moral beliefs]

'Laws passed pursuant to public policies may burden the belief liberty of those who adhere to either religious or secular beliefs,’ she added. [Of course this is true. It would be nice, however, if she were concerned to minimize this burden instead of expanding it for one particular group.]

If appointed as an EEOC commissioner, Prof Feldblum will decide cases involving alleged violations of US federal employment law, including gender, age, and race discrimination. [If that does not concern you, then you must be on her side.]

Pro-life, family and business groups are concerned that Prof Feldblum will use her power to try and strip First Amendment rights of freedom of expression and free exercise of religion, and exploit her position on the EEOC to use the force of government to change the social norms of private institutions. [As well they should be.]

Bob Ellis, a Dakota Voice columnist, wrote:

‘Putting this radical woman in charge of the EEOC is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house, or putting criminals in charge of the prison, or the inmates in charge of the asylum.

‘The American people, however, are in charge of the US government, and it is our responsibility to tell our government we will not tolerate such gross irresponsibility and contempt for the founding values of our nation.’ [If homosexuals take this kind of extreme position, which is rooted in contempt for Western traditions of religious liberty and for Christianity, they risk provoking an understandable backlash that could erode the gains they have already made. Backed into a corner, the people of the US will not allow themselves to be browbeaten into submission. And if that happens there is no use whining about how bad and evil conservatives are. Conservatives are not creating this situation; homosexual activists are.]

From 1986 to 1987, Prof Feldblum clerked for Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun, the Judge who handed down the decision in the Roe v. Wade case that has allowed more than 51 million abortions in the US. In 2009, she was the lead drafter of the US Employment Non-Discrimination Act, introduced by Barney Frank, an openly homosexual Democrat Party Representative (Massachusetts), which would prohibit employment discrimination based on someone’s real or perceived sexual orientation. [Ah, a protege of Barney Frank. Figures.]


If the only way the American people have to prevent individuals with these kind of intolerant views from being appointed to public office is to throw out the Democratic Party, then I believe this will be done. In fact, I believe it has already started in Massachusetts.

Misunderstood Mordor?

Here is a new set of insights into that myth of capitalism: The Lord of the Rings. Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky probe beneath the surface level and deconstruct this myth of genocide, violence, cultural superiority, monarchy, and evil. Mordor is misunderstood. The fate of the orcs is tragic. Aragorn is a drug smuggler, Gandalf is a dictator and Gondor-Rohan is a military-industrial complex. Here is my favorite bit - it deals with the council in Rivendell.
"Chomsky: Boromir's an interesting case. His culture is threatened by the Orcs in a very real way. But he's also seen that this occupation of Orc land is engendered by his people's own aggressive policies. So he's like an enlightened Israeli who looks at the situation and says, "If I were in their situation, I would be just like them."

Zinn: Boromir here is talking about the eye, and how horrible Mordor is, which reveals the basic limitations of his cultural situation. Boromir embodies the prejudices of his culture, but I too think he's an interestingly problematic figure. He's really the only one who understands… my God. Look at this. Keep in mind that these are supposed to be Middle Earth's enlightened people at this Council, and they're all fighting, they all hate one another.

Chomsky: It's just so complicated, the webs of relationships.

Zinn: Now Frodo, son of Drogo, agrees to take the ring to Mount Doom. Something tells me that no one in Mordor calls it Mount Doom.

Chomsky: And everyone baits Frodo into this. "You are our agent, going on a suicide mission. You have to do it for the Motherland."

Zinn: So is Frodo the Mohammed Atta figure in this story?

Chomsky: He's a fanatical true believer. And crazy. Obviously, totally insane.

Zinn: And listen to what Aragorn tells Frodo: "You have my sword."

Chomsky: So militaristic.

Zinn: Notice that no one says, "You have my diplomatic skills." I think the only real diplomat of Middle Earth is Gollum. He's the only one who makes any meaningful, cross-cultural exchange with any of these people. Being a torture victim at the hand of the Orcs, and his attempted strangulation of the Hobbits."

Frodo is a suicide bomber and completely insane. Mordor is misunderstood. Orcs are victims. Middle Earth is ruled by a violent, capitalistic, military industrial complex. The Marxist take on the history of Middle Earth makes about as much sense as its take on our history.

Read it all here. It is utterly hilarious!

Capitalism versus Capitalism

Sorry for the slow blogging lately - sometimes life gets in the way of my blogging and a one-man blog is a grind when the pressure of deadlines mounts up.

I want to share a few thoughts about capitalism. Usually conservatives support capitalism and leftists (whether democratic socialist or communist) attack it. I have never been able to figure out which side I am supposed to be on and it has finally dawned on me that this is because capitalism is not an "it" but rather a "them." There is no one single entity that historically constitutes "capitalism." If you take a textbook definition of capitalism and then look for it in history, you can't find "pure capitalism" anywhere. No only that, you can't find any "pure capitalists" either. You can find defenders of free enterprise and you can find people who argue for moving in the direction of capitalism, as well as those arguing for moving in the direction of more collectivism (eg. liberalism) and yet both sides can disavow the logical extremes of pure monopoly capitalism and communism. So how do we bring clarity to this question?

I suggest that we think about what aspects of capitalism existed prior to modernity and what aspects of capitalism are an outgrowth of modernity. Both capitalism and socialism, as economic theories, are modern and yet both have pre-modern precursors. But I'm focusing on capitalism here.

Here is a list of concepts that are identified as part of capitalism, but were definitely not invented by the Enlightenment.

1. Private Property. The prohibition of stealing (which presupposes the legitimate existence of private property) is in the Ten Commandments. I think we have to agree that Moses is pre-Enlightenment. If I have to defend capitalism in order to defend private property, then I cannot be biblical unless I defend capitalism. Socialism, if it means violating private property, is unbiblical, anti-Jewish and anti-Christian.

Private property is a bulwark against tyranny, absolute power concentrated in the hands of the ruler(s) and oppression. The more people in a given society hold private property, especially their own homes and family businesses, the more freedom a society has.

2. Division of Powers: The idea that there should be multiple power centers in society that are not all reducible to one central power is a powerful Western idea that goes back, again, to the division of power in ancient Israel between king, prophet and priest. God allowed Israel to have kings, but he redefined the role of king to be, not as elsewhere in the ancient near east, an absolute monarch, but rather as the guardian and promoter of Torah (the first constitutional monarchs, if you will). Prophets were those who were authorized by God to condemn the kings for ignoring or acting contrary to Torah. Priests taught Torah.

The biggest problem in Marxist-Leninism is that it once again centralizes all power in the hands of the Party and its strongmen, which is a regression back to pre-Western and pre-Jewish times. Capitalism, insofar as it promotes many power centers in society instead of just one, is beneficial is warding off absolute power being vested in the hands of a small elite or person. Of course a large corporation is powerful, but so is government. The difference is that the corporation has competitors; the government does not. To abolish capitalism is to abolish the basis of freedom and openness in society and substitute a centralized, absolute, unaccountable power over the people.

Now some might think that since capitalism leads to monopoly this can happen if capitalism is left unchecked and that is a partly valid point. But in a capitalist system there should be a government that has the power of making the rules for the playing field on which business and individuals compete. The government should be the umpire and not a player; but in its role as umpire the government can and should work to prevent monopoly, price-fixing and exploitation of customers. This is what government should do. What government should not do is become one of the competitors and thus create a situation in which there is no umpire, which is to enter into a state of lawlessness - the very thing opponents of monopoly capitalism decry.

3. The Rule of Law. The idea of the rule of law has slowly built up in Western civilization as a result of its Jewish and Roman heritage and it can be expressed as follows. The "rule of law" is the opposite of rule by administrative law because the rule of law exists when government makes the rules prior to the game and then lets the game unfold according to those rules. The government does not predict or pre-determine the winners and losers of the game; that is the point of the game. If it becomes necessary to change the rules part way through (as it inevitably does) then the rules are changed for all player equally at the same time and the players know the rules before they make their decisions to invest, sign contracts, etc. The government plays the role of impartial arbitrator, not manipulator of the outcome.

Now, in socialism, there is no rule of law in this sense. There are no (or no unchangeable) fixed, publicized-ahead-of-time rules of the game. Bureaucrats use administrative law to make regulations, tweak conditions and monitor the game so that a pre-determined outcome occurs. The goal of socialism is equality of outcome; the goal of the rule of law is equality of opportunity. You can have only one of these kinds of equality; having both simultaneously is impossible.

It is crucial to understand that equality of opportunity, which is guaranteed by the rule of law, has to be destroyed by the socialist commitment to equality of outcome. Socialism takes away the fruit of your effort to give to someone else thus ensuring that even if you play the game fairly and work hard you might not enjoy the rewards that you deserve. So equality of opportunity is reduced to equality of opportunity to work for the government and not opportunity to work for yourself - a difference with a huge impact on incentive to work hard, willingness to take risks and entrepreneurial creativity.

4. Free Enterprise. This is simply an expansion of point #1 above. Free enterprise means the freedom of individuals and families to start and operate their own business, farms and other enterprises without undue interference from or control by government. Quite often, it seems that critics of capitalism can see nothing but big banks, corporations like Microsoft or Nike and other multinational corporations as they rail against the evils of capitalism. But if they were to remember that every family farm and every small, family-operated business was also part of this capitalist system perhaps they could be persuaded to moderate their rhetoric and become more focused in their criticism.

Of course, Marx was anything but focused as he strove for the highest possible level of generality in order to make his rhetoric sharp and his theory appear as "scientific" as possible. This is because he was so modern; he was a product of the Enlightenment and his goal was to reorganize human society according to reason - tradition be damned. His naive faith in the infinite malleability of human nature led him to make proposals that doomed millions to death, serfdom or oppression. He refused to work with human nature as given and the result was disaster. To call him a humanist is a misnomer; he was an anti-humanistic enemy of ordinary people, an intellectual with a conviction that he could ignore the constraints of human nature and the accumulated wisdom of humanity acquired painstakingly over centuries in the name of his all-powerful and all-wise ideas. In the end that is all Marxism is: ideas. Sure they were powerful ideas, but they were basically a gnostic imposition of intellectual constructs on the real world that ignited a conflagration on the earth.

5. The Family as Pre-Political. Marxist-Leninism makes a concerted attack on the family because the family constitutes a barrier to the total power of the state. But the family has been the cornerstone of Western civilization and has always been regarded as an entity that exists prior to the state both temporally and logically. The state has no authority over the family; it did not create the family: God did. Therefore, it cannot regulate the family or change the family or abolish the family. At most, it can intervene in particular, disfunctional families to help restore them to health. But this is a therapeutic intervention, not a sovereign creation or destruction of the family unit.

Insofar as modern consumer capitalism has the effect of fragmenting the family, it must be resisted and curbed. We see this in overly sexualized advertising, for example, and in the demand that women enter the labor force as cheap labor. The refusal to pay men a living wage is something that governments should not allow businesses to get away with. As long as the rules are clearly laid out and applicable to all, this requirement should do nothing to stifle competition or prevent economic growth, any more than any payroll tax applied across the board to all employers would. If unlimited economic growth must be limited by fairness to workers, so be it. But Marxist-Leninism is not either necessary or effective in protecting workers.

Capitalism is often criticized for being anti-Christian because it destroys families and to the extent that consumer capitalism promotes greed above responsibility, material things above personal relationships, things above persons, it must be resisted. But to earn a living is not greed and work is not materialism. So economics is a good servant but a poor master and it must be acknowledged that greed, materialism and individualism are problems of the human heart and transcend all economic systems including both capitalism and socialism.

But in the fight against capitalism, socialism is not on the side of the family. All its rhetoric in this matter is deceptive and cynical. Socialism seeks such a degree of control over individuals that the family inevitably becomes a rival to the state and a threat to state projects of social engineering. With proper laws in place, capitalism can be more friendly to families than socialism so to criticize capitalism in the name of defending the family is a non-starter.

6. Religious Freedom. The attack on capitalism by socialism is always an attack on religious freedom as well. The absolute state of socialism cannot tolerate a rival in the form of the Church, which makes competing claims on the loyalties of citizens. So wherever socialism has triumphed, religion has been privatized and marginalized. In this regard socialism and capitalism, as modern ideologies, both threaten religious freedom insofar as they can function as substitute, secular religions. The market must be the tool of men, not an idol to which human sacrifice is offered. But any society with centralized, concentrated power is going to be a worse environment for religious freedom that one with multiple centers of power and plenty of space for civil society that is not under state control and supervision.

If people are concerned to criticize capitalism, I have no desire to defend everything about historical nineteenth century "robber baron capitalism" or "monopoly capitalism" or multinational capitalism that attempts to escape the rule of law by transcending the nation state. Capitalism, in its 18th century form, became an intellectual construct that could no more be applied purely and absolutely to the real world than Marxism and as such it is uniquely modern and open to all the criticisms justly leveled against modernity.

But in criticizing capitalism the modernist system or ideology, we must not allow ourselves to end up destroying the accumulated wisdom of the West insofar as it is seen in private property, the division of powers, the rule of law and free enterprise, the family as basic to society and religious freedom. Insofar as socialism opposes these things it makes itself into the enemy of mankind and a friend of tyrants like Stalin and Mao. Significantly, these tyrants ruled over non-Western or quasi-Western empires. Marxism in the West has never yet completely overturned the weight of traditional wisdom that is the fruit of 3000 years of Western civilization and its predecessors in the Greek and Jews. Conservatives today have the responsibility to guard this heritage against the reversion to barbarism and exploitation that is promoted by Marxist-Leninism.

Since there is so much confusion over what exactly is being attacked when capitalism is attacked, I therefore suggest that the ideology of "anti-capitalism" is one of the most dangerous ideologies in the world today. Under its cover, private property, the division of powers, the rule of law, free enterprise, the family and religious freedom are being attacked. We see this in Spain, we see it in the UK, we see it in America. Wherever anti-capitalism gains an inch, it destroys a yard of traditional, Western liberty and justice.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Growing skepticism about "Global Warming"? Yes, but in the Times? Really!

Here is a very interesting story from the Times of London Online on how the world has been misled either by incompetence of an astonishing level or by liars attempting to manipulate world governments into panicking over anthropogenic global warming (AGW) or possibly both.

"A WARNING that climate change will melt most of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 is likely to be retracted after a series of scientific blunders by the United Nations body that issued it.

Two years ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a benchmark report that was claimed to incorporate the latest and most detailed research into the impact of global warming. A central claim was the world's glaciers were melting so fast that those in the Himalayas could vanish by 2035.

In the past few days the scientists behind the warning have admitted that it was based on a news story in the New Scientist, a popular science journal, published eight years before the IPCC's 2007 report.

It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was itself based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.

Hasnain has since admitted that the claim was "speculation" and was not supported by any formal research. If confirmed it would be one of the most serious failures yet seen in climate research. The IPCC was set up precisely to ensure that world leaders had the best possible scientific advice on climate change.

Professor Murari Lal, who oversaw the chapter on glaciers in the IPCC report, said he would recommend that the claim about glaciers be dropped: "If Hasnain says officially that he never asserted this, or that it is a wrong presumption, than I will recommend that the assertion about Himalayan glaciers be removed from future IPCC assessments."

But how did something like this happen? The IPCC is supposed to be the very highest level of trusted scientific expertise money can buy and its role is to advise world governments on an issue that may cost taxpayers like you and me trillions of dollars and perhaps change our lifestyle for ever. Back to the article, which makes them sound like the Keystone Cops.

"The IPCC's reliance on Hasnain's 1999 interview has been highlighted by Fred Pearce, the journalist who carried out the original interview for the New Scientist. Pearce said he rang Hasnain in India in 1999 after spotting his claims in an Indian magazine. Pearce said: "Hasnain told me then that he was bringing a report containing those numbers to Britain. The report had not been peer reviewed or formally published in a scientific journal and it had no formal status so I reported his work on that basis.

"Since then I have obtained a copy and it does not say what Hasnain said. In other words it does not mention 2035 as a date by which any Himalayan glaciers will melt. However, he did make clear that his comments related only to part of the Himalayan glaciers. not the whole massif."

The New Scientist report was apparently forgotten until 2005 when WWF cited it in a report called An Overview of Glaciers, Glacier Retreat, and Subsequent Impacts in Nepal, India and China. The report credited Hasnain's 1999 interview with the New Scientist. But it was a campaigning report rather than an academic paper so it was not subjected to any formal scientific review. Despite this it rapidly became a key source for the IPCC when Lal and his colleagues came to write the section on the Himalayas.

When finally published, the IPCC report did give its source as the WWF study but went further, suggesting the likelihood of the glaciers melting was "very high". The IPCC defines this as having a probability of greater than 90%.

The report read: "Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate."

However, glaciologists find such figures inherently ludicrous, pointing out that most Himalayan glaciers are hundreds of feet thick and could not melt fast enough to vanish by 2035 unless there was a huge global temperature rise. The maximum rate of decline in thickness seen in glaciers at the moment is 2-3 feet a year and most are far lower.

Professor Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University, said: "Even a small glacier such as the Dokriani glacier is up to 120 metres [394ft] thick. A big one would be several hundred metres thick and tens of kilometres long. The average is 300 metres thick so to melt one even at 5 metres a year would take 60 years. That is a lot faster than anything we are seeing now so the idea of losing it all by 2035 is unrealistically high.”

Notice that the IPCC was happy to trust a report from an advocacy group, the WWF, and did not bother to check the source. Note also that actual scientists who study glaciers did not even need to do any research in order to know the claim was ludicrous; in fact any informed lay person who studied glaciers as a hobby could have discerned that the claim was obviously false. Nonetheless, the IPCC was not able to do that or did not want to do that. Listen to the IPCC people and note their attitude:

"Some scientists have questioned how the IPCC could have allowed such a mistake into print. Perhaps the most likely reason was lack of expertise. Lal himself admits he knows little about glaciers. "I am not an expert on glaciers.and I have not visited the region so I have to rely on credible published research. The comments in the WWF report were made by a respected Indian scientist and it was reasonable to assume he knew what he was talking about," he said.

Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chairman, has previously dismissed criticism of the Himalayas claim as "voodoo science". Last week the IPCC refused to comment so it has yet to explain how someone who admits to little expertise on glaciers was overseeing such a report."

Well, there is voodoo science going on all right and it is being done by the IPCC. I'd say that their credibility is now completely shot. That last little dig by the Times is pretty devastating. The concluding paragraph in the article, however, is the corker (as the Brits say). It represents, I think, a sea change in the mainstream media's coverage of the whole AGW fiasco. Listen the barely concealed sarcasm, the type usually reserved for Sarah Palin or Intelligent Design.

"The revelation is the latest crack to appear in the scientific concensus over climate change. It follows the so-called climate-gate scandal, where British scientists apparently tried to prevent other researchers from accessing key date. Last week another row broke out when the Met Office criticised suggestions that sea levels were likely to rise 1.9m by 2100, suggesting much lower increases were likely."
I wonder if we will look back on this incident and this story and mark it as the point at which the whole AGW superstructure finally buckled and began to collapse.