Saturday, April 30, 2011

Obama is a One-Termer and Even He Knows It

Speculation about Obama's re-election chances, particularly in the left-dominated media, is hopelessly optimistic about his re-election chances. He is done and everybody who understands the numbers knows it. If he really thought he could be re-elected, he would have tacked to the center by now.

Dick Morris explains why Obama is turning left with all his class warfare rhetoric in the last few weeks.
Two months ago, Washington was abuzz with speculation that Obama was going to follow Bill Clinton's reelection strategy and move to the center, forsaking the liberal agenda that cost him control of the House in 2010. Now it is evident that he has decided to come down hard left and wage his reelection fight from his liberal bunker, firing shots at Republican cuts in Medicare, pushing tax increases on the rich, and attributing the gas-price increase to speculators.

Very possibly the decision to tack to the left was not entirely voluntary. With the Republicans constantly confronting him with budget cuts and spending reductions, Obama cannot portray himself as a centrist. Every day, he is on the defensive against proposals for Republican attempts to rein in federal outlays. Against a backdrop of repeated confrontation, he cannot move to the middle. Indeed, there is no middle. His budget compromises with Boehner are not middle ground, they are partial surrenders, grudging acceptances of budget cuts he would never otherwise allow.
This is a key insight. Obama is not able to portray himself as a centrist without alienating his leftist base. The mood of the country is against his high-tax, high-spending agenda yet he cannot abandon it without cutting into his own base. He needs to tack right but there isn't room.

The problem with a leftist strategy is that the vote share a Democrat can attract with it has a very low ceiling - in the low 40s. Economic populism just doesn't play that well outside of the Democratic left.

The key to this electoral model is, of course, turnout. Obama made it work in 2008 by adding the votes of new, younger voters, increasing the African-American and Latino turnout and playing on the unique economic panic of the times. But, absent a big increase in liberal turnout, the appeal of class warfare and populist rhetoric is sharply limited.

Will Obama be able to replicate his turnout model of 2008 in 2012? With high unemployment, inflation and gas prices, it's very unlikely. His problem, more probably, will be to animate his base and breathe it back to sufficient life to give him any chance at all.
The key is in the last line "to give him any chance at all." After the November mid-term elections there was a lot of talk of him "pulling a Clinton" and tacking to the center and many people tried hard to interpret every possibly centrist act as evidence for such a strategy. But the February budget proved that he only agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts under extreme pressure - much of it from within his own party - and not out of centrist convictions. His failure to come up with an alternative to the Ryan plan and his decision to resort to shameless demagoguery instead shows that he isn't really moving far enough to the center to have a real shot at re-election. America is a center-right country and Obama has scared the moderate middle of America with his economic irresponsibility. That, coupled with high unemployment and no economic growth is simply too high a mountain to climb.

The Democrats are grasping at straws by pointing to the "weak" GOP field of presidential candidates. They are living in "La La Land" when they imagine that the Republican will nominate Donald Trump or Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachman to run against Obama. They will play a role, but it won't be as the nominee.

I honest think there are 4-6 different Republican candidates who could easily beat Obama - Pawlenty, Huckabee, Daniels, and Romney for sure and likely Santorum and Gingrich as well - and even the Republicans won't be stupid enough not to nominate one of them. But if Ryan or Christie were to run they would be superior candidates to any of the above and it could easily turn into a rout. If say Romney or Daniels wins, Marco Rubio would be a vice-presidential candidate who could rally the base. If Pawlenty, Gingrich, Santorum or Huckabee wins, Paul Ryan would be a superb choice for vice-president.

Personally, I would like to see a Pawlenty-Rubio ticket or a Santorum-Ryan ticket. But that is not the point. The point is that the chances of the Republican Party nominating an unelectable candidate is almost nil.

Obama is currently polling under 50% against a generic Republican. He is extremely vulnerable. If he holds his base he can keep it close long enough to raise money and lose without being embarrassed while hoping for a miracle. If he loses his base he risks becoming the biggest loser in American history. That is why he is turning left instead of right and that is why he cannot win.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Quick Takes From Here and There

Stuff You Can't Make Up
Meet Kim Il Jong's answer to Baghdad Bob. Only Jimmy Carter could visit an antiquated Stalinist dictatorship and find a way to blame America for the suffering of its people.

Just so you know, it is now politically incorrect to call companion animals "pets." I think it is still OK to call your hubby your "pet," but don't quote me on that.

The Canadian Election
Stephen Harper rightly warns that the realistic alternative to a majority Conservative government is a socialist-dominated coalition. Are Canadians really going to stampede off this cliff?

Lorne Gunter is keeping the faith. Let's hope he is right.

Bay Street is nervous about the NDP surge. Now why do you suppose that would that be?

Obama's Re-election Bid
Deal Hudson and Matt Smith explain why Obama is facing some challenges with regard to Catholic voters this time around. Was any of this not entirely predictable and, indeed, predicted?

It's doubtful this will help with the Catholic vote - or the Evangelical vote or any of the Christian vote at all.

Having called a press conference to release his birth certificate, Obama proceeded to scold the media for being distracted by "silliness" and "sideshows" before having to leave early to be on Oprah.

John Paul II - Defender of Truth

William Oddie has an excellent article on John Paul II on the occasion of the beatification of the former pope in The Catholic Herald. He begins:

"We have short memories; we take our recent history too easily for granted. Few people, it seems – at least among those who imply that the problems we still face as a Church were actually Pope John Paul’s fault – remember the state of the Catholic Church at the end of the reign of the unhappy Pope Paul VI, during which forces of disintegration were unleashed within the Church which brought it to the edge of losing all credibility as a defender of basic Christian orthodoxy.

This work of darkness was brought about, not by the Council itself, but by some of those, certainly, who had attended it. It was certainly not the work, as some still confidently claim, of a liberal pope: for if Pope Paul was such a convinced liberal, what about Humanae Vitae? What happened during his pontificate was clearly far from his intention. At a homily he preached in 1972, he is reported as saying, now famously, that he had “believed that after the Council would come a day of sunshine in the history of the Church. But instead there has come a day of clouds and storms, and of darkness … And how did this come about? We will confide to you the thought that … there has been a power, an adversary power. Let us call him by his name: the devil. It is as if from some mysterious crack… the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”

He was speaking particularly about the liturgy: but just as disastrous was the unchallenged rise during his pontificate of the so-called “alternative magisterium” of Küng, Schillebeeckx and the rest of their malign brood. It was a time of great destruction; and to destroy is always easier than to rebuild. Recovering from the aftermath of the Council will take 100 years. But Pope John Paul began the fightback: he set the barque of Peter, and the Church with it, firmly back on course."

- - - snip - - -

That is why I was elated at the news of his beatification: because of his re-establishment of the simple fact of the Church’s authority to declare the objective truth of Catholic doctrine (Veritatis Splendor, The Catechism of the Catholic Church and on and on), I had been enabled at last to come home, to escape finally from a Church in which there was absolutely no means of coming to a mind about anything, a Church which actually requires of its clergy no more than a formal acceptance of the creeds – not as declarations of beliefs held to be actually true, but as what the C of E sanctimoniously calls part of a “heritage of faith”. That is why I was at first so depressed by the hostility in some quarters, even within the Church, to the announcement of Sunday’s beatification. I had thought, in Pope John Paul’s final years, that we had moved beyond all that.

Read it all here. For me, it was not so much "the re-establishment of the Church's authority to declare the objective truth of Catholic doctrine" as it was the courageous and powerful reaffirmation of the existence of objective truth of doctrine! Pope John Paul II will be remembered for many things, but Evangelicals will always honor him for his stand for truth against relativism and liberal compromise.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Socialist Exegesis and Cheap Grace

Lawrence O'Donnell is a liberal political commentator on MSNBC who in this clip functions as a liberal televangelist. He is a false prophet who, like his master the Devil, expertly twists Scripture to make it sound as if the Bible said the opposite of what it obviously does say. It is enough to make one sympathetic to the calls to get religion out of politics. The real problem is not that orthodox Christians get involved in politics, the problem is that unorthodox liberals are already there doing damage day in and day out.

Don't be put off by the fact that this clip happens to contain an attack on Rush Limbaugh for Rush is incidental to my point here. Plenty of people other than Rush Limbaugh find the liberal Scripture-twisting that obscures the Gospel and co-opts Jesus for some kind of neo-Marxist political agenda to be pernicious. O'Donnell is really attacking all conservative Christians, that is, he is saying that all non-socialist Christians are not real Christians. I confess that Rush Limbaugh is not my idea of a great Scripture scholar, but O'Donnell manages to make Rush look like a veritable John Calvin by comparison.

What makes this clip especially galling is the smug complacency and self-assurance with which O'Donnell speaks. I think he really believes what he is saying and is not in the least ironic or deliberately deceptive. He thinks his lame attempts at exegesis are absolutely knock down arguments that we conservatives never heard before and cannot answer. He reminds me of Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion taking three whole pages to refute Thomas Aquinas' arguments for the existence of God - just think, three whole pages!

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Limbaugh said that the left is happy to co-opt Jesus as the first socialist and use him to justify their agenda of state control of everything, but that is the only use they have for Jesus. They are not interested in hearing Jesus on other topics and they twist his words on this topic. Rush is completely correct in this, as we shall see.

Limbaugh replies to the current propaganda slogan being advanced by the Soros-funded, former Evangelical Jim Wallis that the real question is not "What would Jesus cut?" but rather "What would Jesus take?" implying that the socialists are pitting Jesus against the Eighth Commandment and the New Testament against the Old Testament, which they always do. The Socialists think it is fine to break the Eighth Commandment so long as it is done by majority vote and so long as it is done in the name of their great idol: Equality.

Give O'Donnell this much credit: he knows Limbaugh is shooting holes in his whole socialist agenda and he knows it is absolutely crucial to discredit Limbaugh's arguments. He is right about that; the problem is that Limbaugh is right and he is wrong. But since when did that ever stop heretics?

Let's look at the exegesis one passage at a time.

First, we have the story of the rich young ruler. O'Donnell points out that in Mark 10:21 Jesus tells the man to go and sell all his possessions and give to the poor. He then claims that this verse is an answer to the question of how much the government should tax us. Jesus, he says to Limbaugh, "takes" it all - 100%.

Well, how many holes are there in this sophistry. For one thing, Jesus gave the man a choice, something that socialist governments never give citizens. Jesus used no coercion; he called for a free commitment of the will. This is basic to human dignity and moral responsibility. Socialism infantilizes people and deprives them of their basic freedom to act morally by determining what their behavior must be and coercing them into doing whatever the State deems correct.

For another thing, Jesus was not talking about giving all you have to the control of the Government. Jesus is Lord, not Caesar. Jesus wants our commitment but we don't follow Jesus by voting socialist and submitting to the dictates of a socialist government; we must follow Jesus only.

O'Donnell stresses that this means "give all of your wealth to the poor, not just some." So this is what he claims the Bible teaches. Fine. Has he given all his wealth to the poor? Has Barack Obama? Joe Biden's income tax return last year showed that he gave 1% of his income to charity. (Obama did a bit better by giving 14% to charity, but he made over 1.7 million!) John Kerry won't even pay the taxes on his yacht let alone sell it and give it to the poor. What blatant hypocrisy and cunning double talk!

Socialists like O'Donnell are people who want the government to take money from other people and give it to the poor. They could just follow their interpretation of the Bible and give their wealth away - but they don't. Instead they want the government to confiscate your wealth and redistribute it while they continue to live the good life.

O'Donnell twists Jesus' words (at 2:25 in the video) saying to sell all that you have and give to the poor into Jesus endorsing a 39.6% income tax rate for those making over $250,000 annually! How does he get that out of the call to evangelical poverty? Wouldn't the people making over $250,000 who paid 39.6% still be "rich?" How, exactly, does remaining rich equal selling everything and giving it to the poor?

O'Donnell then quotes Luke 14:33 where Jesus says that anyone who does not give up everything cannot be my disciple and then says "That means you, Rush." He does not say: "That means me and that is why I have sold all my possessions and given everything to the poor." No, it only applies to conservatives, not to socialists. Confused? Don't be, you are just hung up on Aristotelian logic and need to embrace the Marxist dialectic in which "two legs bad, four legs good."

O'Donnell next continues his little trip through the NT by claiming that Jesus was the first advocate of the progressive income tax! His basis for this? It is Mark 12 and the story of the widow's mite. O'Donnell claims that Jesus saying that she gave more because she gave out of her poverty than those who gave out of their abundance means that the government should make her tax bracket zero and tax rich people at a high rate. Is that what Jesus meant?

Again, she gave voluntarily, which is what made it meritorious in Jesus' eyes. The progressive income tax is not voluntary. And under O'Donnell's socialism, she could not have earned praise from Jesus because she would be classified as a victim and supported by the nanny state. In welfare state liberalism and social democracy private charity dies out. This is by design. Yet, Jesus' words of commendation are twisted into meaning the opposite of what they actually mean. For Jesus, private charity is good; for socialists like O'Donnell it is an evil to be stamped out.

O'Donnell then makes Jesus into a Marxist by saying (4:25) "What would Jesus take? Obviously, he would take from each according to their ability to pay. That is the clear, Christian, philosophical basis of a progressive income tax." Rush is right: Jesus is being co-opted by the Left and people who don't know the Bible very well may well be taken in.

Then at the 6 minute mark, O'Donnell begins reading the parable of the sheep and the goats from Matthew 25 and then he basically consigns Limbaugh to hell unless he repents and turns to socialism. And here I thought Marxists didn't even believe in the after life or God or Divine Judgment or hell. I guess they will pretend to believe in anything if they think it will be a useful rhetorical trick to manipulate their audience. They are Sophists and Socrates had them figured out 2,500 years ago. And Jesus would have no time for their hypocrisy. He didn't come to make Caesar Lord. He came to be Ceasar's Lord.

But what is really intriguing about this altar call is that he calls Rush to abandon his opposition to the welfare state and socialist principles. He doesn't single out John Kerry or Obama's Hollywood actor supporters or any other rich Democrat and call them to sell all that they have and give it to the poor. Why not? Well, for O'Donnell they are already saved. They vote Democrat. That is it. That is all you have to do.

I challenge Lawrence O'Donnell to walk the talk and emulate the Rich Young Ruler by selling all that he has and giving it to the rich. When he does that, I will believe that he is at least sincere in his wrong-headed biblical interpretation.

But O'Donnell doesn't think he needs to do that in order to be a follower of Jesus. Being a follower of Jesus means supporting the Left politically and the latest Party edicts will inform you from time to time what this means you must do. Jesus says "Sell it all and give to the poor" but as long as you refrain from attacking the Democratic Party, that is close enough.

This is cheap grace. Break all the Commandments you like. Fornicate, abort, lie, cheat, covet and manipulate. You can even evade taxes! It doesn't matter. All you need to do do is vote the right way and never criticize Socialism or the Great God Equality.

If Rush just switched to supporting the Democratic Party, he could keep his fifty million dollar fortune and O'Donnell would be fine with that. You don't hear O'Donnell naming Oprah or Soros in his altar calls, do you? Want to be filthy rich and still go to heaven? Just get a party card.

Grace doesn't get any cheaper than that.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Will We Have a Socialist Prime Minister in Canada Within Weeks?

No one saw this coming. With a week to go, Canada stands in mortal danger of electing a socialist prime minister dedicated to wild spending on every left-wing special interest group imaginable.

The National Post and Globe and Mail are both reporting on new polling numbers released today that show that the socialist NDP has, for the first time ever, passed the Liberal Party and now stands in second place. The Conservatives have dipped a bit and are projected to win a reduced number of seats (around 130) and the NDP may win up to 100 with half coming from Quebec. The Bloc is dropping into oblivion and could win as few as 14 seats.

But it is the Liberal Party of Canada that is in shocking shape. Michael Ignatief, the Liberal leader, has been campaigning from the left in this election and voters have apparently bought his ideas (i.e. billions of dollars in spending promises) but concluded that the NDP is a more credible party for implementing them.

If the current numbers held, the NDP would end up with 95-100 seats, the Liberals with 65-70 and the Conservatives with approximately 130-135. In our Parliamentary system the party with the most seats gets to try to form a government first. If it fails because no party has a majority and it cannot find a coalition partner, then one of the other parties might be allowed to try. And so, if the NDP got the support of the Liberals, then Jack Layton would become Prime Minister. The Bloc would not be part of the coalition, but it would have 50-60 seats from Quebec in it.

What would this mean for government policy?

1. Well, for starters, the NDP, never thinking it would ever have a chance at power, has made expensive spending promises to every left-wing special interest groups imaginable - 29.5 billion dollars worth in fact. This has the making of a fiscal disaster.

2. NDP foreign policy would shift to outright and blatant support for those forces working for the destruction of the State of Israel. Radical Islamists everywhere would relax and watch the Canadian government throw Israel under the bus and loosen ties with the US on many issues.

3. The NDP is full of true believers in global warming and the new environmentalist religion - pantheistic Marxism. An NDP government would likely work to reduce Canada to third world living conditions while transferring as much wealth as possible to the UN, third world socialist leaders and the big corporations which stand ready to profit from cap and trade.

4. On social issues, euthanasia would be pushed and maybe become legal during the life of an NDP-Liberal coalition government. There would be no chance of limiting or eliminating the Orwellian-named "Human Rights Commissions" that do so much to limit human rights, especially free speech.

Is there any hope of averting this catastrophe?

The only potentially silver lining in this situation is the fact that the polling numbers became public with a week to go. That may give Canadians time to sit back and think twice as to whether or not they really want to elect a socialist party to power.

If the Conservatives respond with hard-hitting attack ads targeting the radical agenda of the NDP and ask Canadians if a radical shift in fiscal policy is wise at this time, they may succeed in stopping the momentum. But they also need centrist Liberal voters to shift Conservative in hopes of stopping the NDP. This may present an opportunity for a Conservative majority by destroying the Liberal Party with its left wing going NDP and its right wing going Conservative. We just have to hope that the Liberal vote collapses in Ontario, especially in the GTA.

But nobody knows at this point. We are truly in uncharted waters.

The Track Record of Apocalyptic Environmentalism

Here are the Top 5 Environmental disasters that didn't happen. Very helpful as context for the global warming scare.

Rex Murphy asks: "Does Environmentalism rot the mind?"

The Great Rex Murphy has his say on the recent attempt to create a worldwide religion built on anti-Capitalism and the worship of Mother Earth in a piece entitled: "Excuse me sir, that cockroach has rights."

"Does environmentalism rot the mind? I am beginning to believe that the more feverish and agitated greens are suffering from a morbid condition. There is, it appears, no intellectual folly to which they are immune, no frenzied leap off the pier of reason they will not joyfully execute, in their reliably bizarre efforts to horrify the rest of us into supporting their cause.

It was only a few months ago that I read an endearing article entitled “Was Genghis Khan history’s greenest conqueror?” on something called The Mother Nature Network. The article noted the “widespread return of forests after a period of massive depopulation,” which arose, of course, thanks to Genghis Khan’s hordes slaughtering 40-million people. An upside to ethnic cleansing?

And just this week, Bolivia’s president, Eva Morales, hailed national legislation that would enshrine the “rights of Mother Nature” — human rights extended to earth itself. Pause to marvel at the powers of the Bolivian legislature. May we note that Morales is a James Cameron fan? I think we may."

After noting that the new law is described by the Bolivian vice-president as being based on "a resurgent indigenous Andean spiritual world view" Murphy comments dryly:

"Remember this the next time someone says that the science of global warming is “settled,” for many environmentalists are inspired not by science, but by spirituality — Andean and otherwise."
Then he really cranks up the rhetoric (you can tell he is having fun!) and writes:

"What does the new Bolivian law mean? It means that tics that suck the blood, the choking sulphur pits of volcanic vents, the indestructible cockroach, the arid desert wastes and the bleak frigid spaces of the planet’s poles — everything from the locusts that despoil, to the great mountain ranges, the earth and all that is in it, are to have … rights. (About the other planets, Morales is silent.)

With Macbeth, let us lament: “O judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their Reason.”

The proposal combines the decayed anti-capitalism of Marxism with a veritable litany of new-age twaddle and camp spiritualism — paganism in the age of bluetooth and Twitter. Yet it more than just inane. It is Orwellian, in that it would summon into being something called the Ministry of the Earth, which will provide our planet with an ombudsman, “whose job is to hear nature’s complaints as voiced by activist and other groups, including the state.”

Why can’t the old hag, Mother Earth I mean, get her own ombudsman? And shouldn’t that really be, in this context, ombudsperson? I notice, too, how the earth’s “complaints” are to be those voiced by activists and the state, an always convenient ventriloquism."

It is pleasant to mock such ridiculous nonsense in the name of reason and common sense, but the Orwellian element ought not be missed. People with a lot of power take all this twaddle very seriously and we ignore it at our peril.

The Rise of Panthiestic Marxism

It appears that Christians are asleep at the switch as a dangerous mutation takes place in the anti-Western, anti-Capitalist, and anti-human culture of death. Western Marxists and neo-pagans from around the world are joining together to give Marxism a religion: pantheism.

Its atheism has undoubtedly been one of the great weaknesses of Marxism in its bid to gain a hold on the human mind. Atheism is unnatural to the human condition and Western atheism has always been little more than a reaction against Christianity but not a permanent option for the masses. Atheism is a way station to a completely non-Christian religion. Pantheistic Marxism will be the next great challenge to Christianity - and maybe the last before the return of Christ.

Fay Voshell at American Thinker reports:
Bolivia's president Morales, having achieved the establishment of pantheism as his country's official religion, has taken his religious agenda to the UN, which has acceded to his wishes by establishing April 22 as Mother Earth Day, thus establishing the worship of the goddess Pachamama (known as Gaia in other circles).

Normally, one would react to a UN resolution giving goddess Mother Earth the same rights as humans with a yawn. But Morales, his Green supporters, fellow globalists, believers in liberation theology and the Marxist dialectic take the resolution quite seriously, as the UN is seen as an international vehicle for accomplishing goals long in the making.

One would suppose the UN would be committed to cultural and religious diversity, eschewing the establishment of a global religion, given the fact it has representatives from countries around the world. But as it turns out, the UN has long had an interest in a global government and universal religion.
The Guardian reports that global warming is being used as the excuse for why government regulation and control of, well, everything, is absolutely necessary to protect Mother Earth.
Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said Bolivia's traditional indigenous respect for the Pachamama was vital to prevent climate change. "Our grandparents taught us that we belong to a big family of plants and animals. We believe that everything in the planet forms part of a big family. We indigenous people can contribute to solving the energy, climate, food and financial crises with our values," he said.

Little opposition is expected to the law being passed because President Evo Morales's ruling party, the Movement Towards Socialism, enjoys a comfortable majority in both houses of parliament.

- - snip - -
Bolivia is struggling to cope with rising temperatures, melting glaciers and more extreme weather events including more frequent floods, droughts, frosts and mudslides.

Research by glaciologist Edson Ramirez of San Andres University in the capital city, La Paz, suggests temperatures have been rising steadily for 60 years and started to accelerate in 1979. They are now on course to rise a further 3.5-4C over the next 100 years. This would turn much of Bolivia into a desert.

Most glaciers below 5,000m are expected to disappear completely within 20 years, leaving Bolivia with a much smaller ice cap. Scientists say this will lead to a crisis in farming and water shortages in cities such as La Paz and El Alto.

Evo Morales, Latin America's first indigenous president, has become an outspoken critic in the UN of industrialised countries which are not prepared to hold temperatures to a 1C rise.

You can see how the typical global warming alarmism, taken for granted by The Guardian, is used as the excuse for the establishment of a new religion. Just below the surface is a rabid anti-capitalism and under that is a rejection of all historical monotheisms and the whole concept of the fall into sin and the need for Divine redemption. With pantheism, there is no original sin, just sins, which can be atoned for and corrected by social conditioning and bureaucratic management of behavior.

At first it was called "Earth Day" but the name used by the United Nations has now been changed to "Mother Earth Day" so as to personalize and deify the Earth itself. See the UN Declaration of Mother Earth Day 2011 here. For an example of the alliance of Western left-wing activists working with the UN, Bolivia, and various Marxist and environmental groups, take note of this report:

Canadian activist Maude Barlow is among global environmentalists backing the drive with a book the group will launch in New York during the UN debate: Nature Has Rights.

"It's going to have huge resonance around the world," Barlow said of the campaign. "It's going to start first with these southern countries trying to protect their land and their people from exploitation, but I think it will be grabbed onto by communities in our countries, for example, fighting the tarsands in Alberta."

Long before she was an "environmentalist" Maude Barlow was a leading socialist agitator and feminist in Canada. There is a flowing together of the feminist, neopagan, Marxist, and environmentalist movements into what is quickly becoming a new religion - one which could aptly be named "Pantheistic Marxism.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

If Good Friday is the holiest day of the Christian year, Easter is the most joyful. Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

And in doing so we also celebrate the fact that we who have been joined with him in his death have also been joined with him in his resurrection. We have eternal life because what He has done!

Blessings on you as you celebrate the greatest event in history so far - the beginning of the conquest of death.

"Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here but has risen."
Luke 24:5-6

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Left Keeps on Attacking Trig Palin and Proving How Depraved They Actually Are

Yet again, a left-wing website has attacked one of the Palin children. This time it is baby Trig, the Downs boy who recently turned one and the culprit was the left-wing site Wonkette, which mocked Trig hatefully and cruelly.

But this time outraged conservatives used Twitter and other forms of social media to turn up the heat on sponsors of this website. According to The Daily Beast:

Starting with Papa John’s Pizza, the companies began to run. It grew from there. As of Friday afternoon, the list was 30-some strong, and includes brands like Huggies, Vanguard Group, Nordstrom, Bob Evans, and StarKist Charlie—the tuna mascot. [See the list of Wonkette’s remaining advertisers.]

As the outrage gained steam on Wednesday afternoon, Stuef updated the original post with an apology, but later Wonkette’s Layne made the decision to pull the post entirely.

Both actions would come too late. The group wasn’t stopping until every one of Wonkette’s advertisers had left, and they were dedicated to posting the proof—screenshots of the company’s tweets like the pixilated scalps of fallen brands.

“I’m flabbergasted,” writes Nolte when asked about the effectiveness of the campaign over email. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Moe Lane at Red State has a good analysis of this whole incident:

It’s actually very entertaining to watch The Daily Beast try to offer a ‘balanced’ look at the Trig Palin situation. The short version of said [situation], for those who missed it: one of Wonkette’s more unhinged writers said a variety of disgusting things about Trig Palin; and in response, the Internet took Wonkette out into the alley and administered a curb-stomping made all the more entertaining by the obvious, nervous need of various liberals to join in. The Left is starting to realize just how bad Trig Trooferism looks, you see. The not totally brain-dead portions of it don’t want this issue getting any more press any more, particularly since it will complicate any sort of ‘look at the crazy Birthers’ narrative. So… suppress the Trig Troofers now, and keep them suppressed.

Which is the primary reason for The Daily Beast’s damage control efforts, of course. You see, The Daily Beast recently hired Andrew Sullivan away from, and Andrew Sullivan is easily the most notorious Trig Troofer out there.

Read it all here.

Can you believe that the Left spent three weeks lecturing and hectoring conservatives about civility after the tragic shooting of Gaby Giffords? They were so sure that the key to avoiding violence was civility and maintaining an elevated "tone." I guess that three weeks was as long as they could keep up the pretense.

As of Apr. 16, Paul Krugman of the New York Times entitled his blog post: "Civility is the Last Refuge of Scoundrals." I'm reminded of the Communist Parties in various countries routinely doing 180 degree u-turns in the the Cold War era according to the latest orders from Moscow. The Left is capable of contradicting itself routinely in its propaganda. It doesn't seem to bother them since they have a view of truth that is, shall we say, flexible.

It is really funny except when it is disgusting.

Climate Science Predictions Never Come True - Now Why Would That Be?

Patrick Michaels has some more reflections on the failure of the UN's prediction of 50 million climate refugees by 2010 in an article in Forbes entitled: "Voodoo Economics? How About Voodoo Climate Science?"

When will our greener friends at the UN learn that it’s just not a good idea to make definite predictions about certain disasters?

This time they have been called out on their 2005 prediction that by now there would be 50 million “climate refugees”—people choosing to emigrate because of bad weather. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) even came up with a global map showing precisely where people would migrate from.

Pretty much every forecast about climate change or its effects should be viewed as a hypothesis rather than a fact. After all, as Firesign Theater once noted, “the future’s not here yet”. But the UN named a specific year (2010) which allows for an actual test of their prediction.

Census takers around the world have inadvertently adjudicated the UN’s forecast. It was dead wrong. Pretty much every recent census reveals that populations are growing rapidly precisely where everyone was supposed to be migrating from. (And where is the story that global warming causes babies?).

Folks were supposed to be streaming away from low-lying tropical islands because of worse and more frequent hurricanes. The population of the Bahamas, which catches about as many tropical cyclones as any place on earth, is up 14% since 2000. The Solomons, up 20%. Sychelles: 9%.

Michaels discusses the fact that, while predictions may often by off in science, it is somewhat suspicious that all the mistakes seem to be in one direction. After discussing six failed predictions from the IPCC report, he says:

Is all of this due to chance?

Scientists, as humans, make judgemental errors. But what is odd about the UN is that its gaffes are all in one direction. All are exaggeration of the effects of climate change. In each case, the IPCC was relying upon scientific literature that was not peer-reviewed in the traditional sense. No one has found analogous errors in the other direction (which would be an underestimation of climate change based upon the “grey” literature), and you can bet that people have been looking very hard in an effort to exonerate the UN.

In an unbiased world there should be an equal chance of either underestimating or overestimating the climate change and its effects, which allows us to test whether this string of errors is simply scientists behaving normally or being naughty.

What’s the chance of throwing a coin six times and getting all heads (or tails)? It’s .015. Most scientists consider the .050 level sufficient to warrant retention of a hypothesis, which in this case, is that the UN’s climate science is biased.

The IPCC is not about science, but about politics. Some people are getting rich out of the global warming scam and the socialist/world government activists are using it as a way to work toward the erosion of national sovereignty and giving the UN world taxation powers. Some of the momentum is due to neo-pagan earth worship. But whatever drives the agenda in any particular case, it all has very little to do with science.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

No blogging today as it is the holiest day of the year for Christians. Let us meditate on our sins today instead of reading (or writing) blogs about the sins of others. It is because of today that we have any hope whatsoever in this life and the next.

We read Psalm 22 in church this morning:

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Why art thou so far from helping me,
from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but thou dost not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.

Yet thou art holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In thee our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
To thee they cried, and were saved;
in thee they trusted, and were not disappointed.

But I am a worm, and no man;
scorned by men, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me,
they make mouths at me, they wag their heads;
"He committed his cause to the LORD; let him deliver him,
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!"

Yet thou art he who took me from my mother's womb;
thou didst keep me safe upon my mother's breasts.
Upon thee was I cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me thou hast been my God.
Be not far from me, for trouble is near and there is none to help.

Many bulls encompass me, strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax, it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
thou dost lay me in the dust of the earth.

Yea, dogs are round about me;
a company of evildoers encircle me;
they have pierced my hands and feet---
I can count all my bones--they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my raiment they cast lots.

But thou, O LORD, be not far off! O thou my help, hasten to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion,
my afflicted soul from the horns of the wild oxen!
I will tell of thy name to my brethren;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee:

You who fear the LORD, praise him!
all you sons of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you sons of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
and he has not hid his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.

From thee comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the LORD!
May your hearts live for ever!

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD;
and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.
For dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.
Yea, to him shall all the proud of the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who do down to the dust,
and he who cannot keep himself alive.

Posterity shall serve him;
men shall tell of the LORD to the coming generation,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
that he has wrought it.
(Psalm 22)

Here is the Gaither Vocal Band with "It is Finished."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why the UN Reminds Me of the Jehovah's Witnesses

Here is a snippet from Wikipedia about the latest in a series of revisions the Jehovah's Witnesses have had to make to their date-setting for the beginning of the Millennium:
From 1966, Witness publications and convention talks built anticipation of the possibility that Christ's thousand-year reign might begin in late 1975[64][65][66] or shortly thereafter.[67][68][69][70] The number of baptisms increased significantly, from about 59,000 in 1966 to more than 297,000 in 1974, but membership declined after expectations for the year were proved wrong.[71][72][73][74] Watch Tower Society literature did not state dogmatically that 1975 would definitely mark the end,[75] but in 1980 the Watch Tower Society admitted its responsibility in building up hope regarding that year.[76]
(I don't normally quote Wikipedia, but this info is available easily on the web from many independent sources.)

The Jehovah's Witnesses' have had a long problem with date-setting for the Millennium. The Founder, Charles Taze Russell started it by claiming that the Millennium would start in 1914. Instead we got World War I. Oops!

But they have been slow learners and, as you can see, were still at it a century later.

They are not the only goalpost movers and they are not the only slow learners. There is another apocalyptic cult operating today and it has far more money, far more adherents and far more potential to ruin your economic outlook than the poor old Jehovah's Witnesses. I refer, of course, to the First International Church of Climate Change (formerly the First International Church of Global Warming). The headquarters is in the UN's International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and it is now old enough that the old problem of date-setting is now beginning to cause PR problems.

Greg Halvorson explains:
They predicted 50 million "refugees" by 2010, but not only have they failed to materialize, those areas that were supposed to be submerged by rising seas or made desert have increased in population.

The U.N.'s response? Move the goalpost!

Indeed, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Cristina Tirado, an environmental researcher, warned - again! - of 50 million climate refugees, thinking perhaps that no one would notice the absurdity. At any rate, the new target year for climate victims to again start wandering the wastes of Africa is 2020.
Well, that should solve the problem for another 8 or 9 years. Maybe the IPCC and the JW's have the same PR company.

Fundamentally Transforming America

President Obama is off and running on his 2012 re-election campaign 19 months before the election and barely into the 3rd year of his term. Apparently, running the United States is not important enough to interfere with the most important priority in the world, namely, getting himself re-elected.

Central to Obama's campaign is is his theme of needing to raise taxes on "millionaires and billionaires" in order to reduce the budget deficit. This theme makes him appear to be concerned about the deficit even though raising taxes on the rich to rate of 100% would hardly put a dent in the deficit. In other words, he is using class warfare to demonize and scapegoat one group of society so that the majority can rally around him and thus be distracted from the very real economic problems he is ignoring. Obama demands that the rich pay "their fair share."

An article in the Washington Examiner takes a look at the question of whether or not the rich are paying their fair share of taxes. The facts are inconvenient for Obama and they reveal what his real agenda is.

First of all, in 2008 the top 1% of households with the highest incomes paid 38.6% of all income taxes and the top 10% of households paid 70% of all income taxes, while the bottom 50% of households paid just 2.7%. So, the article reasonably asks,
"what would it take for liberals to be satisfied that the rich are paying their fair share? Should the top 10 percent pay 90 percent of the taxes? Should the bottom 50 percent pay zero income taxes?"
This is the question that Obama needs to be asked. Will a tame media ask him the tough questions? Not unless there is a major turnaround from the last campaign.

Based on his own statements so far, here is what I think his strategy is. If he can get more than 50% of the population to be paying no income tax, then he has a potential majority of voters whose own self-interest appears to be (not actually is; I'll come to that point later) to vote for ever higher tax rates for "the rich" (i.e. everybody who makes more than me). Then he can turn the screws tighter and tighter on the minority who still pay income taxes.

The point here is not so much about tax policy and government revenue as it is to create a permanent voting majority for the Democratic Party. By dividing America into classes (the tax paying class v. the entitlement class) the Democrats can create a permanent voting majority consisting of a permanent entitlement class with a Manichean worldview in which the tax paying class (known as "the rich") are the forces of evil and the entitlement class (known as "the people") represent the forces of good.

Obama's problem, however, is that because America never had Europe's class divisions the idea of class warfare has never taken root in America. Upward social mobility is common in America and wave after wave of immigrants have done what socialist ideologues claim is impossible: they have risen from the working class into the middle class and made a better life for their children. So Americans are instinctively suspicious of class warfare rhetoric and they don't aspire to be part of a permanent entitlement class; they aspire to succeed in life and get ahead by hard work. This is why they know that "soaking the rich" means soaking them should they happen to attain their dreams and so they resist demagoguery.

Going back to tax rates, the Examiner article also shows that tax rates on the rich are no lower today then they were under Clinton, despite the Democratic demonizing of Bush as giving tax breaks to the rich. Why? Well, the fact is that the Bush tax rate reductions applied to all income levels, not just the higher ones. The IRS data shows that higher income Americans paid a progressively higher rate of tax than lower income Americans. The truth is that the American tax system is already one of the most genuinely progressive systems in the world.

So, if Obama is so unhappy with the current system,
it makes you wonder what he would be satisfied with.

I think the whole "tax the rich" meme is not serious policy. Obama knows that America's finances are on a collision course with reality and he knows that the Republicans are supported by the voters in wanting the deficit reduced and the debt dealt with. But he is ideologically rigid on entitlement programs and refuses to even consider scaling back the rate of growth of programs like Medicare and Medicaid, let alone cutting them. His socialist ideology makes him prefer that everybody be poorer if that is the only way to make everyone more equal in income. The "tax the rich" theme is not a solution to the problem; it is a distraction from thinking about the problem.

He was not kidding when he said a few days before the 2008 election that his goal is to fundamentally transform the United States of America.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Human Fathers, Our Heavenly Father and Atheism

I teach a seminar course for upper level students in which the topic changes from year to year. This year's topic was "The New Atheism in Historical Perspective" and we read Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion and Christopher Hitchens' God is not Great. We also read Dinesh D'Souza's What's So Great About Christianity in parallel with Hitchens and Scott Hahn's and Ben Wiker's Answering the New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkins' Case Against God in parallel with Dawkins. But the most of the course time was spent on Edward Feser's The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism.

I decided to offer this course because I was curious about the whole "New Atheism" phenomenon and wanted to investigate it systematically. But I was disappointed by the low caliber of the writing and thought of these people. Dawkins is an embarrassment to Oxford University and Hitchens seems to have written his book while drunk. They have no intellectual seriousness whatsoever. Dawkins, for example, spends a total of three pages (!) refuting the proofs for the existence of God summarized in the Summae Theologia and thinks that Thomas was stupid enough not to have thought about the problem of infinite regress. His most profound thought is that it does not good to posit God as the Creator because then the problem is who created God?

Anyway, the only interesting question is why people spouting such nonsense can sell a million copies of such bad books and the answer has to do with what kind of society we have become in late modernity. Whatever motivates people to tell pollsters that they are "No Religion" or self-identify with the "New Atheists" it has nothing whatsoever to do with reason or logic. For answers to why so many people are interested in atheism, we must look elsewhere.

I offer this theory: broken families and children growing up
fatherless causes an increased rate of atheism in society.

I think there is a profoundly important relationship between fatherlessness and child abuse (actually, abandonment is really a form of abuse in itself) and atheism. As divorce rates rise and fathers increasingly leave the home, as parents don't even marry in the first place, and as single women or lesbians seek to have children by sperm donation without even intending to have a father in the home - children in our society are increasingly growing up without fathers. The hard left feminist ideology that says that fathers are optional is itself abusive and harmful to children and society in general. It is an antisocial idea that ought to be rejected and scorned by anyone concerned for children and their well-being.

God has made humans very helpless when we are first born and we depend on our parents for a long time before we are sexually mature and able to go off on our own. During this long period of 12-18 years our identity is formed at first almost exclusively and progressively less exclusively by our parents. The parents get the first and foundational shot at influencing a child's outlook on life, sense of security, identity and relationship to God.

Parents form and shape children's mental health, physical health, moral health, and spiritual health. Parents contribute powerfully to the sense of overall well-being a child has as a turbulent and then as a fully-mature adult.

Fathers play a unique and crucial role in the development of children. They represent security, protection and discipline and children crave and need the approval of their fathers. If children do not get these things from their fathers they will suffer the consequences. Often a child's first image of God is that God is like a father - but not just any father - his or her father. God's intention is that a child experience love, protection, approval, discipline, intimacy and joy from their human fathers as a step toward coming to know their Heavenly Father.

But if the human father is a self-absorbed, bullying, inconsistent, abusive father, this natural process is short-circuted. And when a father is absent, it is even worse. Even the worst fathers often have some redeeming characteristics but the absent father is not even a bad father, he is no father.

I believe that children who are abused by inadequate, sinful and selfish human fathers have a much harder time trusting God than others. And I believe that absent fathers in particular contribute to a child growing up finding it difficult to trust God.

There is very little actual atheism in the world. Most so-called atheists are actively rebelling against the God they supposedly don't believe in! Most so-called atheists hate the God the don't believe in - how can such atheism be taken at face value? Much of what our society calls "atheism" or "secularism" is actually people in rebellion against God or angry at God. And since their image of what God is like has been formed and shaped by abusive, angry, selfish or absent human fathers their atheism is understandable and predictable.

I believe that atheism is bound to grow more and more in a society in which the family is being shaken to its foundations by cultural Marxism, second-wave feminism and the hedonistic individualism that characterizes the Left. Atheism is not the problem per se; it is a symptom of the problem and it is a sad testament to the misguided quest for freedom from restraint in the name of a romantic, Utopian individualism that is so dominant in our culture.

Quick Takes From Here and There

Because I don't have time to blog about everything that I find interesting, here are some quick takes from here and there . . .

Go here to vote on the nominees for this week's "New Tone Nominees for the Week of April 9-16. Chris Matthews gets my vote.

If an Evangelical had said this, the Left would be screaming about Theocracy, the Inquisition and Crusades.

Charles Lewis says that Secularists could learn a lesson in tolerance from the Sisters of Life.

On the Global Warming Alarmism Prediction Watch, Repair Man Jack wants to know where those 50 million global warming refugees forecast for 2010 are anyway. If Hal Lindsey is discredited because his predictions of the Second Coming happening within a generation of the founding of the State of Israel didn't come true, will the Church of Global Warming - High Priest Al Gore - be held accountable for its apocalyptic predictions that fail to come true?

Bill Ayers still isn't sorry about being a domestic terrorist in the 1960s. Here him explain why to Larry Elders here. Joke: What is the difference between the 9/11 terrorists and Bill Ayers? Technical competence.

Sun News Network signed on for the first time yesterday promising "hard news and straight talk." Word is that they don't want to be known as "Fox News North." Instead they want Fox News to be known as "Sun News South."

Now the nanny state is getting downright mean. New York State says that games at summer camps like "Capture the Flag," "Kickball," "Red Rover" and "Freeze Tag" are "dangerous." Seriously. But as with all government regulations, you don't need to worry because: "There will be flexibility in how the law is implemented." I feel better, don't you?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

We Need a Plan That Will Prevent a Debt Crisis

Here, on the other hand, is a serious man with a plan. Congressman Paul Ryan is interviewed here by David Gregory, who obviously disagrees with his approach. But what a difference! They actually have an actual conversation (debate?) about ideas, facts and numbers.

Congressman Ryan's plan may not be perfect, but it is the only serious option on the table right now. When the Democrats had control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency last year they failed to pass a budget. That is how confident they were that their economic ideas would be embraced by the American people in the November mid-term elections. Obama's budget in February just called for spend, spend, spend like there is no tomorrow.

The Democrats practically dared Ryan and the Republicans to put their cards on the table and tell the American people what they proposed to do about the debt crisis. So they did. And the American people were not happy about all the spending cuts, but for the most part they appreciated being talked to honestly as if they were adults. The White House was so spooked that they sent Obama out to give a speech claiming that he has a "plan" to deal with the budget too. He apparently came up with it between February and now. Maybe they did one on a napkin while reading polling numbers. It has lots of slogans like "win the future" and "we must invest" and it tries to pass off 2 trillion in tax increases as "spending cuts." How stupid does he think his fellow citizens are? Oh, that stupid I guess.

The Left has nothing but slogans from the 1930s and it has no principles, no plan and no real hope to offer. America (and the world) needs an adult in the White House. I sure hope someone can lean hard enough on Paul Ryan or Chris Christie to run against Obama.

We Just Need to Invest!

Here is an entertaining interview. The left-wing congresswoman being interviewed is full of slogans, banalities, platitudes and cliches. They tumble out of her like logs coming down the Ottawa River. Neil Cavuto patiently tries to get her to engage in thought and debate but it is like walking through mud.

Like Obama in his speech the other day, she has no ideas, no plans and no way to deal with reality. She is so sure that the rich folk are just hiding the money and there actually is an endless supply of cash for all the goodies she is used to handing out to her constituents that she can't engage with facts and numbers. This is the anti-intellectual, unrealistic Left at its finest.

Monday, April 18, 2011

US Receives Debt Warning from Standard & Poors: The Debt Crisis Begins Sooner Than Expected

Conservatives have been warning everyone who will listen that the orgy of spending that started under G. W. Bush and accelerated under Barack Obama cannot go on forever and that the piper will eventually need to be paid. Rep. Paul Ryan actually has a plan to deal with the crisis. But all Obama wants to talk about is taxing the "rich" and death panels. He must be the most inept and unserious president in the history of the Republic.

A few hours ago a bombshell fell on the playground of New Deal-Great Society Democrats and the fanatical partisans of tax and spend liberalism. Standard & Poors issued a debt warning to the US. Reuters reports:

Standard & Poor's threatened to downgrade the United States' prized AAA credit rating on Monday unless the Obama administration and Congress find a way to slash the yawning federal budget deficit within two years.

S&P, which assigns ratings to guide investors on the risks involved in buying debt instruments, said the move signals at least a one-in-three chance that it could eventually cut its long-term AAA rating on the United States within two years.

A downgrade, which would leave Germany and France with a higher rating, would erode the status of the United States as the world's most powerful economy and the dollar's role as the dominant global currency.

Read the rest here. If Obama merely seeks to spin this as an excuse to raise taxes and does not take seriously the absolute need to cut spending, the US is in big trouble and that means the rest of us are in big trouble too.

So it begins . . .

Why Do They Demonize Paul Ryan's Budget?

In its analysis of the intellectual foundations of Paul Ryan's budget, the Economist recently snifffed rather haughtily at his anti-Keynesian thrust. To question Keynes in certain circles is like questioning whether the ban on cannibalism in civilized societies is really a good thing. This got me to thinking about why this is so. Here is my theory.

Keynesian economic theory says that in an economic downturn the government should borrow money to spend on infastructure projects to put people to work and stimulate the economy. Then, when the business cycle turns upward and the economy is growing the government should pay off the accumulated debt by running budgetary surpluses. This cyclical debt is harmless and actually helpful in smoothing out the highs and lows of capitalism for ordinary people who would otherwise be battered by the boom and bust cycle necessary for any economy in which profit and loss provides the necessary discipline for growth and productivity (and the accompanying increase in the standard of living) to occur. All this sounds pretty good in theory. Of course, politics never happens just in theory.

Keynes proposed his theories in the 1930s and prior to that point, debt had been a dirty word for responsible business and government leaders. But as Keynes ideas caught on, debt became more and more thinkable and defensible.

The socialists smelled an opening here - a chink in the capitalist armor - and decided to exploit it. Since capitalists in the first half of the twentieth century were worried about how to contain Marxist radicalism and keep the working classes from revolution, and since deficit spending could help accomplish this goal, Keynes' theories were widely accepted.

Or, rather, they were half-accepted. At the same time as Keynes' ideas became popular the progressive elites who had been part of Wilson's "war socialism" were drooling about the prospects for implementing a Bismarkian welfare state idea in America. FDR's New Deal was the attempt to accomplish this goal by not letting a crisis go to waste. (In other words, use the crisis as cover to implement the agenda you had prior to the crisis.)

Keynes' argument for deficit spending in low economic times was just the rationale needed for creating huge entitlement programs for wealth redistribution during the Great Depression. Under the guise of "fighting" the Depression, the New Dealers used the Great Depression as cover to advance their essentially socialist welfare state ideas. It was creeping socialism without revolution.

The problem was that a key aspect of Keynes' theory was not implemented. That would be the part about the spending being only temporary. Keynes envisioned the government spending money on building bridges, paving roads, renovating schools etc. This type of spending could be turned off and on like a spigot. As soon as the economy recovered the government could turn off the spending spigot and increasing tax revenues due to increased economic activity would soon produce surpluses and allow the debt to be paid down.

But what if the spigot could never be turned off? What if the spending was not on bridges and roads but on social security and other entitlement programs that were designed to permanently redistribute wealth?

When the Republicans sound the alarm about the out of control budget deficits that threaten to destroy the US economy, what do the Democrats always say? They say that if you cut government spending during a fragile economic recovery you will harm the economy and increase unemployment. They act as if they were Keynesians and all these entitlement programs and unfunded pension liabilities due to irresponsible deals made by politicians in the past with public sector unions in order to get elected were just temporary spending designed to smooth out the recession.

But this is fundamentally dishonest. What Paul Ryan is on about has nothing to do with Keynesianism at all. He is not talking about temporary stimulus packages, but about on-going liabilities incurred by federal and state governments that are beyond the ability of government to fulfill. He is talking about the drive to ruinous, European-style, socialism under the cover of Keynesianism.

Paul Ryan is not against a modest welfare state with a basic social safety net for the needy; in fact, he wants to save the safety net by reforming and making sustainable the welfare state. What he is against is universal government programs designed, not to protect the needy, but to redistribute wealth according to the preferences of a cultural elite committed to a Marxist ideal of equality.

One of the ironies here is that Obama's plan will hurt the poor far more than Ryan's will because Obama's plan bankrupts the nation and that means the destruction, or drastic scaling back, of the social safety net. Ryan is trying to protect that safety net. Of course, the total spending goes down: that is the whole point. But the truly needy don't receive less; only the rich and the middle class do. It is not balancing the budget on the backs of the poor and the sick, but on the back of universality. And Democrats care more about universality than they do about the poor. It is the ideal that they worship.

The Democrats bang on about how the Republicans only care about helping the well to do. But the Republicans are asking: "Why should the millionaires and billionaires get welfare?" Instead of increasing their taxes and then exempting your cronies from paying those taxes via loopholes, why not reduce taxes and eliminate loopholes?

The Democrats want higher taxes so they can have government control of the lives of citizens. Helping the poor is just the excuse. It is that behind which they hide their true agenda. Their true agenda is social engineering and income redistribution in the name of romantic and Utopian ideals of equality. Paul Ryan's true sin in the eyes of the cultural elites is to challenge those sacred cows.

The Real Problem with Universalism

We are having the same old universalism discussion again right now because some mega-church pastor has discovered that it sells books. Let me try to come at this question from a completely different angle.

I propose the thesis that the main theological problem with popular ideas of universalism is that they ultimately make our relationship to Christ something less than the most important issue we face in life.

Why do I think this is so?

Typically, the line of debate goes like this: Well, maybe I can accept that bad people like Hitler might be in hell, but what about Ghandi? What about my grandfather who was not a Christian but was a good family man, hard-working and decent? What about the guys at Rotary Club? What about - and the list goes on.

Think about what is being said here. Hitler is bad so he is in hell. Grandpa is good so he can't be in hell. The criterion for who is in hell and who is not is now who lived a good life. If this theology is acceptable than the Pharisee in Jesus' parable of the Pharisee and the Publican was hard done by at the hands of Jesus. (Luke 18:9-14) Jesus must have been some sort of extreme fundamentalist in condemning such an upstanding, religious man.

Is living a comparatively good life - for your day and age and society - and maybe a bit of moral heroism sprinkled in here and there enough for salvation? What happened to Rom. 1-3? What happened to "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God?" (Romans 3:23) Why did Jesus bother to come and die anyway?

Usually, when this problem becomes apparent to would-be universalists who don't want to lose their Evangelical audiences completely, the next step is to begin speculating on the possibility of hell being eventually emptied by the love of God drawing everyone to Himself.

What this does is to make life basically unserious: "Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we don't exactly die, we just move on to a stage in which it will make a lot more sense to be religious than it does in this life."

Is this life really where issues of eternal destiny are settled? The whole Bible seems to think so and the Church has always operated on this premise. To operate on any other seems to me to be basically dangerous and unserious.

But that is what universalism is about: making this life and our relationship with God into a lifestyle choice, an option, something we can take or leave. That is the real problem with universalism. It makes faith in Christ less than the most important issue we face.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Why Not Just Tax the Rich?

From the few clips of his show that I have seen Bob Schieffer of ABC's "Face the Nation," the host is not a complete shill for the Left like a Chris Matthews or a Rachel Maddow or a scary and angry demagogue like Ed Shultz.

But he asked Paul Ryan the same question everyone in Washington and the mainstream media is asking these days: "If we have such a serious deficit problem, why not tax the rich?" At least he framed it as a question, rather than as a demand. And at least he asked the right guy.

Ever since Obama's much-touted speech the other day in which he attempted to arrest the momentum away from Ryan and re-focus the debate on his own preferred talking points, everybody in the media has hammered away at the same themes: "Tax the rich, tax the rich, tax the rich - and all will be well." Don't worry your head about the problem, just repeat after me "Tax the rich, those millionaires and billionaires, tax the rich and our problems will go away."

Some sincere souls who don't understand much economics and only knows what they hear in the media ask the question sincerely. What would be so wrong with taxing the rich?

I don't have much hope of getting anywhere with the left-wing ideologues (they already know what I'm about to say and simply don't care), but I do think that honest questions deserve honest answers. Why not tax the rich to take care of the budget deficit?

First, references to "wealthy corporations" and to "millionaires and billionaires" are demagogic class warfare rhetoric designed to divide the country into the "good guys" (us) and the "bad guys" (the rich). The reality is that the interests of all Americans are intertwined to a much greater degree than the tired, old, Marxist, class warfare rhetoric allows.

The reality is that many of these supposedly "wealthy" people own small business or are self-employed professionals. They need to be encouraged to hire people, since most new job creation comes from small businesses. And high tax rates discourage job creation, the growth of small businesses and increased tax revenue. So they actually prevent a solution to the budget crisis.

Second, there is not enough wealth in the hands of the really well-off to solve the kind of budget deficits that America faces. So even if the government confiscated all the income of the "millionaires and billionaires" it would still face a shortfall. And how many times can you take it all away? Kings, parliaments, dictatorships and all forms of human government down through the ages have faced this problem: if you eat the sheep where will the wool come from next year?

Third, when you put the first two points together, you realize that Obama is being disingenuous when he tries to get you on his side against the "wealthy" today. He is using democracy in the worst possible manner to cobble together a coalition that is held together by a compact by the majority to fleece the minority.

The long range socialist goal always has been to get the majority of the voters to be net recipients of government goodies at the expense of the minority and then to convince the majority to vote for those politicians who will keep the minority in line and the goodies flowing. This is democracy manipulated for self-interest rather than used to pursue the common good. It is in the self-interest of the beneficiaries of government entitlement programs and it is in the self-interest of the politicians and the bureaucratic class of experts who run the government and engage in social engineering.

But if you are part of the middle class, you ought to realize that if fleecing the rich produces insufficient revenues (and it must be so for government appetite for spending is insatiable) and if you support a high tax policy that results in a stagnant economy, what inevitably comes next?

Anyone with any common sense can look at Greece or Spain or Portugal and see the long term effects of increasing government spending coupled with cripplingly high tax rates. The standard of living of all must decrease and the mechanism of this decrease is higher and higher taxes on the middle class.

Obama has consistently promised that he won't increase taxes on households making under $250,000 but what people need to grasp is that his policies on spending, entitlement reform, and tax reform (not to mention his penchant for environmental regulations and his unwillingness to address unsustainable public sector union benefit programs that are a ticking time bomb for state governments across America) - all this make his promise impossible for future presidents to keep.
Yes, the word is impossible.

Rationing in health care and perpetually higher and higher taxation are the only plans Obama (and the Left generally) has for addressing the deficit. This week in Washington made that abundantly clear to anyone who did not already know it. The future of such policies is economic decline, higher taxes, a declining lifestyle for all American and the erosion of the social safety net for the poor, the handicapped and the elderly.

Why not tax the rich? The real answer is because it is bad for all of us.

Capitalism is a system that works on the basis of enlightened self-interest. It treats people as responsible adults who know what they want better than government bureaucrats do and allows people to work as hard or as little as they like. It is not a system based on greed but on individual freedom, which is a very different thing. Capitalism allows people maximal freedom to pursue their own priorities and their own self-interest and yet allows them to weave their own individual life projects into a tapestry in which the needs of all are met. Capitalism is not meant to address the problem of those who cannot work: that is what private charity and a modest, means-tested, government social safety net are for.

But the fact is that taxing the rich more and more (endlessly, in fact) is not in our enlightened self-interest. It is far better for us that more wealth be created, that more jobs be created and that more and more middle class people join the ranks of the wealthy because the more this happens the better off all of us will be. Social mobility and the absence of a European-style class structure have been among the most appealing features of America ever since its beginning.

The rich are the entrepreneurs who create jobs, wealth and who do pay taxes already. The corporate tax rate in the US is 35%, which is among the highest in the world. We need to respect entrepreneurs, not treat them like pariahs or milking cows for our use. These days, the only way rich people can avoid being treated like pariahs in progressive circles is to beat their breasts and call for higher government taxes and more government programs for the poor. Then, in exchange for being class traitors they typically get tax loopholes and the public gets stuck with higher deficits. This system of crony capitalism is inherently corrupting and contrary to the rule of law. There is a direct connection between the high tax rate and the high number of loopholes and simply increasing the tax rate will not help this problem. In fact, Doug Saunders, in The Globe and Mail, offers a rationally compelling case for abolishing corporate taxes.

When the government regulates everything it controls everything and true capitalism is destroyed. When business is forced to prostitute itself to government it means that we have socialism by other means. And the result is economic stagnation because the government does not create wealth - as any honest Marxist will tell you - it only redistributes it. As the pie shrinks due to misguided government interference in the economy, the individual slices shrink too. Everyone's energy is then directed toward fighting for a slightly bigger share rather than on creating a bigger pie.

Obama and the Left would rather everybody be poorer if that meant more relative equality. That kind of philosophy creates a Cuba and a North Korea and Greece. It does not create a United States of America. But it has the potential to destroy any nation that embraces it fully.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Tea Party Goes to Washington to Create a New Center

To hear the Democrats tell it, the Tea Party is "extreme." They even agreed in caucus to all use that word over and over again and no doubt their supporters in the mainstream media were instructed to hammer away at the label continuously too. The goal was to try to separate Independents and Moderates from the Tea Party by painting the Tea Party as extreme - which is what Independents and Moderates don't want to be. Many Independents and Moderates are basically confused about politics and illiterate about economics. They just want jobs and stability and not too many wars, although when there is a war they want to win it decisively and quickly.

So the Democratic strategy is clear: paint the Tea Party as extreme and hope to discredit "wild eyed and extreme" ideas such as balancing the budget by cutting spending and slowing the rate of growth of big government. The problem is clear, however, for the Democrats. Most Americans (upwards of 70%) don't think such ideas are "extreme." In fact, they think they are as American as apple pie and motherhood.

Thus, despite Democrats' (and their media and cultural elites allies') best efforts, we get polls like yesterday's CNN poll, in which 50% of Americans said that the Tea Party's influence is positive. (HT John McCormack at The Weekly Standard)

Let's look a little closer at the Tea Party phenomenon. What is it about? It seems to be centered on a belief in limited government and maximal individual freedom. I don't get the sense that the majority in the Tea Party want to completely dismantle the social safety net, but I definitely get the impression that they want to limit the future growth of the welfare state and roll back some entitlement programs, perhaps by means testing them. They don't want to see handicapped, elderly and sick people go without help, but they don't think that helping those truely in need requires or justifies endless multiplication of government bureaucracy, skyrocketing public debt or a government that costs higher and higher percentages of the GDP.

Now, I don't find any of this particularly extreme. It is a different choice than Europe has made. Clearly, it is the repudiation of the European social democratic welfare state and it is a uniquely American vision of government and society. The Democrats view Europe as "normal" and anything that fails to measure up to that vision as somehow inadequate. But anyone who actually dissents from acknowledging Europe as the obvious end goal is not just inadequate or a dissenter - such a person is "extreme." To be skeptical that we can get there immediately is all right, but to disagree on the destination in principle - especially on the basis of principle - is utterly beyond the pale for Democrats.

Within the Democratic party there is a spectrum that runs from the left - which is ideologically socialist and views European social democracy as too mild - to the center - which views European social democracy as immediately achievable - to the right - which supports moving incrementally and cautiously as far toward European style social democracy as is feasible. This third group comes from red states where their task is to get elected by voters, a majority of whom do not like the ideology of the Democratic Party. These are the so-called "Blue Dogs." For them the recent health care reform was too close to socialism for electoral comfort and many of them paid the electoral price for voting for it.

For the entire 20th century there has been a socialist party in America. It has, like the NDP in Canada, exercised influence far beyond its numbers. At certain points in the century the socialists have been separate from the Democratic Party and at other points they have worked within the Democratic Party. Right now, the socialists form the left wing of the Democratic Party. This is the New Left, which emerged in the 60s after the public acknowledgment of the crimes of Stalin did so much to discredit the Old Left. Having lost at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the New Left decided to get involved in the party at local and state levels and has wielded huge influence ever since.

Today, the Congressional Progressive Caucus is co-chaired by Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (AR) and Keith Ellison (MN) and includes one senator (Bernie Sanders of VT) and 74 members of the House of Representatives (out of 193 Democrats - 38%). Although the November election resulted in a net gain of 63 for the Republicans, most of the Progressive Caucus members were returned because they come from the deepest blue states on either coast and in university towns. Thus, the House (and Congress as a whole) is much more conservative, but the Democratic congressional caucus is more tilted toward socialism than before.

The Tea Party is evolving into a party within a party much like the socialist leaning wing of the Democratic Party. The Tea Party Caucus, which began on July 6, 2010 with Rep. Michelle Bachman as chair now has 59 House members and 4 Senate members. A number of high-profile Tea Party favorites, such as Senators Marco Rubio (FL), Pat Toomey (PA) and Ron Johnson (WI), have declined to join the caucus, apparently because they still entertain hopes of taking over the Republican Party as a whole instead of functioning as an interest group within it. Whether they are justified in their goal or not remains to be seen.

I think that the Tea Party movement, unlike the Democratic Socialists of America, is a genuinely grass roots movement that represents the majority of Americans. The main role of the Tea Party caucus will be to balance out the extremes of the New Left in the Democratic Party and force the centrists of both parties to work together to avoid gridlock.

But this will not be easy because of the vast influence the New Left has within the Democratic Party. Like conservative Republicans, who hope to gain control of the entire Republican Party, they are working to make democratic socialism the center of the Democratic Party and to brand all limited government, libertarian, traditional conservative and social conservative ideas as "extreme."

In this environment, the Tea Party is a necessary bulwark against extremism and an authentically American populist movement that stands for continuity and tradition. Contrary to what the spin doctors would have you believe, the long term effect of the Tea Party on American politics will likely be to prevent the moving of the center of American politics to the left and even to nudge it back a bit toward the right. This would place the Socialists, not the Tea Party, outside the mainstream and make the status quo the center, conservatism the right and European-style social democracy the left.

This may not sound dramatic, but it will have huge, global effects if it happens.

1. It will save America from a sovereign debt crisis like the EU is currently experiencing.
2. It will likely prevent the implementation of homosexual marriage.
3. It will likely end the current abortion extremism by ensuring that a conservative Supreme Court throws it back to the States to regulate.
4. It will ensure that American military power does not decline and this will mean peace and stability instead of war and revolution for great swaths of the globe.
5. It will likely mean that Israel will survive instead of being annihilated in war.
6. And, finally, it will likely mean that as Islam overruns Europe, America will stand firmly as a place where Christians experience freedom and the ability to maintain institutions of higher learning and missionary outreach.

The Tea Party drives progressives crazy, not because it is extreme, but because it exposes their own extremism and their fundamental disconnect with mainstream American voters.