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Monday, July 20, 2009

Drink the Kool Aid

Hey There Obama (Drink the Kool Aid) (this is a 3:39 video mocking Obama-worship)

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

SOME NAZI POSTERS: from the 1930s

John Ray (of "Dissecting Leftism" blog): SOME NAZI POSTERS: from the 1930s

John Ray: Hitler Was a Socialist

That Naziism (and Fascism, too) was "of the left" should not be news to those who have been paying attention.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Politician's Stone

Rick Darby: "... Stimulus has become the Politician's Stone, key element in an alchemical process for turning debt into gold. ..."

In case Gentle Reader is unfamiliar with the terminology, the phrase "Politician's Stone" is a play on "Philosopher's stone."

Demonomics: Joe Biden: ‘We Have to Go Spend Money to Keep From Going Bankrupt’

Some are temppted, of course, to call this "Obamanomics," but it's not simply Biden and Obama who think like this; such irrationality is endemic to the Democrat Party, and to "liberals" in general.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Divine Providence for the secularists

here: "[Progressivism supplies] all the delights of believing in Divine Providence without the nuisance of believing in God."

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Their Frenzies and Crusades

Gentle Reader may have noticed that I've linked to a few posts by Douglas Wilson. Gentle Reader will not be aware that I've considered linking to more than I have.

In this case, I'm both linking to the post and duplicating its content here.

Douglas Wilson: Their Frenzies and Crusades

Here is the text of the post:
One area of secular blindness (one of many) is their inability to see how religious they are being. Having defined religion quite narrowly as church buildings and altars, they are utterly incapable of seeing the all-pervasive and quite religious nature of their frenzies and crusades. The problem with invisible religions like this is that one cannot watch them to see if they are going bad. And so they don't.

They do not see Tetzel in carbon offsets. They do not see shuning in the treatment the neighborhood gives the guy who doesn't sort his garbage according to the dictates of the regulatory bishops. They don't see a fierce imposition of morality in their crusades for the sake of saving us all from climate change. They do not see blasphemy laws in thought crimes legislation. They do not see their religion in everthing they do, and this is because idolaters are blind.

There is less excuse for Christians -- who are not blind in this way -- for going along with any of it. If you have ever wondered how an ancient Israelite, who had been fed by manna from the sky, could possibly have been attracted to one of the Canaanite groves and high places, just look at the pressure you feel to flush the toilet less, to take shorter showers, to get a smaller car, and to go through any number of other gyrations to reduce your carbon footprint. This is what syncretism always feels like. The gravitational pull is always this strong. And this is not being said in order to make you empathize with that ancient Israelite who was going native. This is being said to stir you up enough to make a name for yourself the way Phineas did.

Here is a second and related post --
Douglas Wilson: Stewardship Schmoowardship

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

An Interesting Choice of Words

April, the Hyacinth Girl, has a little item about something Justice Ruth Bader Ginsgurg said recently: Excuse me?

Here is Ed Whelan's post on NRO's "the corner" blog, about which April is commenting: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sotomayor and Abortion for Undesired 'Populations':
2. Speaking of something that maybe “didn’t get out quite right” (but maybe did): As part of her broad-ranging discussion of abortion, Ginsburg offers this, er, interesting comment why the Court’s 1980 decision in Harris v. McRae, which ruled that the Hyde Amendment’s exclusion of nontherapeutic abortions from Medicaid reimbursement was constitutionally permissible, “surprised” her:
Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion. Which some people felt would risk coercing women into having abortions when they didn’t really want them. But when the court decided McRae, the case came out the other way. And then I realized that my perception of it had been altogether wrong.
Gee, Justice Ginsburg, would you like to tell us more about your views on those populations that “we don’t want to have too many of”?

Here is the New York Times Magazine article in which Ginsburg's interesting comment is reported: The Place of Women on the Court

Now, of course, none of this is *news;* none of this is something which we just didn't happen to know previously about the abortion regime. What's newsworthy is that Ginsburg slipped up and admitted the truth which we all knew. That's a serious "gaffe" in politics.

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Web Site Story

By way of John C. Wright: Web Site Story

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Huddle Up a Little Closer

One of the things I like about Mark Steyn is that he can lead me to consider thoughts which I haven't yet considered. Another thing I like about him is that he can express thoughts and convictions I may already hold better than I can express them.

For instance, I despise that poem (or, to be more precise, I despise the mindset it engenders) which has become attached, both figuratively and literally, to the Statue of Liberty.

Here is a recent comment by Steyn on that: Huddle Up a Little Closer
Mark (Krikorian), thank you for pointing me to that Roberto Suro column about Emma Lazarus's stinkeroo of a poem. Mr. Suro neglected to mention that Irving Berlin set "The New Collossus" to music: My kids had to sing it as part of the grade-school summer concert a couple of weeks back, and, although I was momentarily relieved that we'd be getting a three-minute break from all the generic sub-Disney power-ballad Obama Youth Corps pap about celebrating the circle of the power of the hope of changing the world together as one in uniteeeeeee that seems to function as a secular hymnal for today's educators, my heart sank. "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor" is one of the dreariest tunes Berlin ever composed. From the guy who wrote "White Christmas," "God Bless America," and "There's No Business Like Show Business," it's bizarrely formal and stilted — as if he read through Emma Lazarus's words and couldn't hear any music in them.

It was written for a 1949 Broadway musical called Miss Liberty, a fictionalized romance set around an approximation of the historical events. The show ends with the dedication of the statue, and the full company rising and singing "Give Me Your Tired . . . " — which, of course, never actually happened.

But it is striking to me how effective it's been as an act of cultural appropriation. The poem is used to invert precisely the meaning of the statue. The actual sculpture is called "Liberty Enlightening The World" and shows her holding a tablet marked "1776." In other words, it's not about importing people but about exporting American ideas. And, if you did that effectively, you wouldn't need to import huddled masses — or, at any rate, not on such a scale. Emma Lazarus has been used to subvert the Statue of Liberty.

By the way, Berlin thought he had another "God Bless America" on his hands with "Give Me Your Tired . . ." and was planning to set up a big foundation to direct all its royalties to charity. "This is the greatest goddamn idea anyone's ever had," he'd say to his friends, and then he'd sing the song, and they'd sit there not quite getting it. He blew it. He should have written one about liberty enlightening the world.

Give me your tired and your poor, but please, no Emma Lazarus poems.
Kathy Shaidle (of the "Five feet of fury" blog) summarized Steyn's comment as: "A bad poem on an old French statue is not an immigration policy."

On a related note, here is Steyn's essay on the song "America the Beautiful."

By the way, I hate that song ... though, it may be that I hate it mostly due to the tune. The lyrics seem to me to be sappy sentimental pap, and the tune vapid and insipid. Put them together and it generally comes across as both boring and whiney; it takes a really talented singer to make that song into something I want to hear.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Concrete and the Ideal

"Kristor," who comments at Lawrence Auster's blog (and who I wish had his own blog, that I might encounter his thoughts unfiltered), recently made an interesting observation about what differentiates the mindsets of conservatives and "liberals:"
Drawing the line

Lawrence Auster: No matter how conservative a person may think he is, if he does not believe in America as a concrete thing, but sees it only as a set of principles, then when it comes to Third World immigration he will almost automatically do a Benedict Arnold to the open borders camp in order to distance himself from "racism."

And this is the ground on which genuine conservatives must take a stand: If you only believe in America as a set of ideas and values, if you don't believe in America as a concrete historical nation, people, and culture, then you're not a conservative, and you're not on our side. You're on the other side.

People will say my position is extreme and fascistic. But it is no more extreme and fascistic to say that America is a concrete nation, and not just a set of ideas, than it is to say that a human being is a concrete person, and not just a set of ideas.

Kristor: Amen! Ideas can't have themselves. An idea can't be actual except as a formal aspect of a concrete actuality. There is no such thing, anywhere, as "just an idea." It follows inescapably that one can't form a loyalty to a mere idea. In practice, what we think of as loyalties to ideas--e.g., loyalty to Christianity or to Existentialism or to Democracy--is always in practice loyalty to concrete persons, if only to the persons we ourselves have so far concretely been.

Further, unless an idea can be carried into practice in individual lives--as in, e.g., voting, or joining the Army, or praying, or working--it will survive only as noise in the mind.

Thinking that ideas are concretely real is a basic error of thought. Bateson called it mistaking the map for the territory. Whitehead called it the fallacy of misplaced concreteness.

Those who avoid this error behave perforce with respect for the ontological momentum of their fellow creatures, in just the same way that the woodworker accommodates himself to his tools and materials, even as he uses the former to shape the latter. Thus those who remember that their loyalties are owed to particular, actual things--to families, persons, nations, churches, farms, enterprises, animals, and so forth--end by respecting their concrete reality. In the inescapable work of creating their lives, they behave so as to preserve such values as already exist in their fellow creatures. They don't play with people as if they were merely imaginary.

But playing with people as if they were mere ideas is almost the definition of the liberal. In his blithe inattention to things as they are in themselves, and to the dignity and moral weight that inhere in concrete fact, the liberal reverts almost instantly to treating persons (and other creatures generally) as means to his own ends. Should he persist in this course without any compromises, without any unprincipled exceptions, he will end as a murderous totalitarian tyrant, whether great or small.

Conservatism is a commitment to the concretely real. That is why conservatives are so often orthodox believers, committed to the traditions of a concrete, living social organism--i.e., to the ideas it has consistently embodied and carried into practice in ritual, dogma, and secular policy.

Liberalism is a commitment to the ideal. That is why liberals are so often gnostics, repudiating the world as it is, rejecting its history and traditions as worthless or evil, and interested to destroy its form and structure so as to replace it with something more perfect.

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Mark Steyn - Dependence Day

I well understand that those who have drunk the Leftist Kool-Aid cannot be swayed by facts, or reason, or experience, or by anything. But, just perhaps those who haven't yet drunk the Kool-Aid may be persuaded to put down the glass --

Mark Steyn: Dependence Day

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Friday, July 3, 2009

'The Last Superstition' by Edward Feser

I just got my hands on the book 'The Last Superstition - A Refutation of the New Atheism' by Edward Feser. Get a copy for yourself.

I tracked it down yesterday at the public library -- I'm currently unemployed, so I want to keep my spending down. I'm up to page 65, and I knew by page three that I'd want to buy a permanent copy (I plan to order it today).

Mr Feser blogs at "Edward Feser" and at "What's Wrong with the World."

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Violent Crime Comparisons By Country

Everyone *knows* that the USA is a more violent country than various socialist countries in Europe ... or Canada. Right?

Well, perhaps, once again, what "everyone knows" just ain't so, after all.

Here is an interesting news item in the online version of the British tabloid The Daily Mail: The most violent country in Europe: Britain is also worse than South Africa and U.S.

Assuming that one can trust *any* government's statistics (or that one can trust newspapers), here are the figures for violent crime as reported in the article --
1 UK .................... 2034/100,000 residents
2 Austria ............. 1677
3 S.Africa ............ 1609
4 Sweden ............ 1123
5 Belgium ............ 1006
6 Canada ............ 935
7 Finland ............. 748
8 Netherlands ...... 676
9 Luxembourg ..... 565
10 France ............ 504
?? USA ................. 466
?? Australia .......... 92

Various countries report crime differently (various jurisdictions within the US compile and report crime statistics differently). Some countries (or local jurisdictions within those countries) "solve" their crime problems by either decriminalizing certain behaviors ... or by simpy not recording some of the individual crimes.

My point is, these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. Unfortunately, we don't know how much salt to apply to any of these numbers individually.

By the way, this result is not a real surprise to me -- I have long known that what "everyone knows" in this regard is false. The only thing which mildly surprises me is the great distance between reported US violent crime and Canadian violent crime.

As a side point, if you'd like a view of how "liberals" will almost invariably react to these figures, check-out the responses to my posting of this.

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The Terrorism in Bombay

The blog "Gates of Vienna" links to a Channel 4 (sort of like a British version of PBS) documentary on the November 2008 terrorist attack on Bombay: Mumbai Revisited (48 minutes)

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

N.T. Wright Video Discussion

These videos of the Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright answering questions are from a single event, though the videos don't seem to flow directly one into the other.

N.T. Wright on Heaven 1

N.T. Wright on the Postmodern Movement 2

N.T. Wright on Satan and Evil 3

N.T. Wright on Debate about Homosexuality 4

N.T. Wright on Women in Ministry 5

N.T. Wright on Filming the End Times for YouTube 6

N.T. Wright on the Authority of the Bible 7

N.T. Wright on Darwin 8

N.T. Wright Responds to John Piper 9

N.T. Wright on the Importance of Reason 10

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