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Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Year's Message for My Readers

There were probably many, many times this year when I may have.....

Disturbed You,

Troubled You,

Pestered You,

Irritated You,

Bugged You,

or gotten on your Nerves!! So today, I just wanted to tell you....

Suck it up Cupcake!!

Cause there

AIN'T NO CHANGES

Planned for 2011!!

I didn't write it; the whole thing was received as an e-mail from one of my relatives. But I do like it...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Again, There is No Such Thing as "Free Trade"

Phyllis Schafly gives an example of what actually goes on whilst people talk about "free trade":
Although China is called a major trading partner, it treats U.S. companies like suckers, cheating them coming and going. China even intimidates U.S. businessmen so they don't dare to criticize China's unfair trade tactics.

Take, for example, the attitude of CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt of General Electric, the company now laying off hundreds of U.S. workers and giving those jobs making light bulbs to Chinese workers. He won't comment about the current U.S. case in the World Trade Organization accusing China of giving illegal subsidies to Chinese wind-turbine makers.

A few years ago, GE caved in to the Chinese government's demand that it build a large wind-turbine factory in China. Since GE owns a crucial patent for wind turbines, this demand was based on the Chinese anti-free trade policy called indigenous innovation (which China expert James McGregor calls "a blueprint for technology theft on a scale the world has never seen before").

China then developed its own wind-turbine manufacturers and is now directing purchasers to buy from those Chinese firms instead of from GE. That's the reality in what free traders naively believe is the world's fast-growing market for U.S. goods.

China wants to be the world's biggest exporter based on stealing U.S. know-how and subsidizing local manufacturers. China blatantly violates international trade laws and has no plans to be a market for U.S. products; China's principal imports are and will continue to be U.S. jobs.

[snip]

Some people foolishly call our relationship with China "free trade." But there is nothing free or fair about it. It is trade war between an aggressively protectionist communist government and a U.S. that is shackled by foolish and out-of-date illusions about free trade.
I'll put it very succinctly, for the umpteenth time: there is no such thing as free trade, despite what some libertarian-leaning economists (You can scarcely get a libertarian to admit that the government has a legitimate power to tax at all, let alone get them to admit that tariffs are legitimate.) will tell you, despite what libertarians who would love for you to believe that free trade is a "bedrock conservative principle" will tell you. Other countries find ways to protect their markets. That's the reality.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tax Information

Overall, I haven't found Red State Uprising to be an exceptionally useful book. I am pretty sure that most people who keep up with, say, the Drudge Report, Townhall, and a few other websites would be at least slightly familiar with most of the material in it.

There is one section, though, that I wish everyone were familiar with. Some of its contents are familiar to anyone who's read The Fair Tax Book, but it's worth repeating here.
Despite our nation being founded out of a rebellion over taxes, with the cry, "Taxation without representation is tyranny," we've been saddled with more tyranny than what we threw off. England's taxation of the colonies was paltry compared to our current tax load.

When our nation was founded, the federal government spent the equivalent of about $3 million a year--about $1 per person. By 1910, after 120 years of operation, our federal government spent just over $600 million--about $6.75 per person. (There had been modest inflation in the intervening years.) But that's pocket change compared to today. By contrast, now the federal government spends $10 billion every day (almost $12, 000 per person per year). How did this come to pass?

[snip]

Taxation with representation has turned into a nightmare. Government is the "senior partner" in every American business, and its tax burden is the largest item in every working man's budget. Americans pay more for "being governed" than for food, clothing, and shelter combined. In 1929--the last year before massive federal expansion under Franklin Delano Roosevelt--federal, state, and local taxes equaled about 10 percent of our GDP. Today, combined taxes are over 26 percent of the economic earnings, but because governments are running such huge deficits, there is another 12 percent of our economy that the government is spending, which is essentially "deferred taxes" imposed on the next generation of young Americans. Total "current" plus "deferred" taxes were about 38 percent of the economy in 2009.

[snip]

Obama and other liberals would like you to believe that high-income earners in the United States are under-taxed and do not pay their "fair share." Obama's campaign promise was that he would increase taxes on couples earning more than $250, 000 per year and give tax breaks to those earning less. The reality is that the top 1 percent of taxpayers already pays almost 40 percent of all personal income taxes, and that share has nearly doubled over the last quarter-century. Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers pay less than 5 percent of federal personal income taxes.

[snip]

Shifting taxes to corporations is a fantasy. Businesses do not pay taxes; only people pay them. An increase in corporate income tax, for example, is paid by customers in the form of increased prices, employees in the form of lower wages and shareholders in decreased dividends. So we the people pay for the tax increase, but the politicians like it because the taxes are rendered less visible to us.

[snip]

Consider the fiscal problems of European countries such as Greece, Britain, and Spain these days. They have massive and growing piles of government debt even larger than our own (although we are heading in that direction). Yet every European country has income and payroll taxes, as we do, plus a Value Added Tax (VAT) that rakes in even more cash for the government. The average VAT rate in Europe--20 percent!--means that every purchase a European citizen makes hands a chunk of change over to the government, making everything at least 20 percent more expensive. History confirms that high taxes don't solve a deficit problem; they just encourage politicians to spend more money.

As Brutus, the Anti-Federalist writing during the debates on ratifying the Constitution, warned:
The power to tax, exercised without limitation, will introduce itself into every corner of the city, and country--it will enter the house of every gentleman, watch over his cellar, wait upon his cook in the kitchen, follow the servants into the parlor, preside over the table, and note down all he eats and drinks; it will take cognizance of the professional man in his office, or study; it will watch the merchant in the counting house, or any store; it will follow the mechanic to his shop, and in his work, and will haunt him in his family, and in his bed; it will be a constant companion of the industrious farmer in all his labor...it will penetrate into the most obscure cottage; and finally it will light upon the head of every person in the United States. To all these different classes of people, and in all these circumstances, in which it will attend them, the language in which it will address them, will be GIVE, GIVE.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Trust God and Tell the People

I spent waaaaaaay too long perusing this guy's archives the other night (you do know that most of my posts have been in the pipeline for several days before they see publication, don't you?) and ran across several posts involving tithing.

Now, for the handful of Christians who read my blog, let me say that you will never have an inkling what I give to the church. Ever. Think what you like.

The axe I have to grind on the subject is a very simple one: there is not, plainly and simply is not, any command anywhere in Scripture for Christians to give any specific percentage or amount to the church.

It

isn't

there.

Oh, I know that you believe it is. You've heard sermon after sermon on the subject, and you're convinced.

Well, not to be unkind, but I believe that you've heard sermon after sermon on the subject, and you've not had your critical thinking apparatus turned all the way up to "Max." I am not saying that you're stupid or undiscerning, but I am saying that on this subject (and a handful of others, most likely), you long ago stopped being a Berean and searching the Scriptures to see if these things are so. The situation is not unlike the way it is described here:
I've come to believe that many of the erroneous doctrines we are taught we easily believe them if they are taught "gently" and sincerely to us. Sometimes it is not until some bull-in-a-china-shop kind of preacher comes into our lives and kicks the doctrinal door down when we finally wake up and realize what we were taught all along was wrong.

Here are some excerpts from Croteau's preface that give a glimpse of how he started on his journey:
"I was driving to work in the fall of 1999 and listening to Christian talk radio. John MacArthur was in the middle of a sermon and he was explaining why the tithe was not applicable to Christians. I had never heard anyone actually challenge the applicability of the tithe before, so this took me totally by surprise."
Most of us in Baptist pews have been taught this doctrine as fact for so long, even by well-meaning and sincere preachers. We have not heard SBC preachers dare to consider that the Old Testament tithing laws do not apply to Christians under grace. Preachers at best take a hybrid approach: that yes, we are obligated to tithe, but the New Testament says we should do the forking over joyfully and not under compulsion - in fact we should give more than the tithe as proof of just how darned joyful we are. As someone who was saved in a Southern Baptist Church as a teenager in college, I know the tithe has always been an expectation. It is planted into the minds of preschoolers. The Malachi 3:8-10 application to Christian tithing was never, ever to be questioned. If you don't tithe, you're a God-robber, a cheapskate, plain and simple. No one dares question the doctrine.

[snip]

Bring up this topic in your Sunday School class. Tell your Sunday School class when you next discuss money matters, something like this: "Christians are not under the Old Testament law of tithing. Malachi 3 has been misused for decades by taking it totally out of context. We are to follow the New Testament model to be generous, but there is no prescribed percentage." Try it and see what happens.
I can tell you what happens in most churches: people just assume that you aren't giving anything! Never mind that you know, since the stats on Christian giving in the United States are not difficult to look up--indeed, those very stats are frequently cited in sermons on giving--that they are not likely to be giving any more than you are. The logic is apparently: this person doesn't believe tithing is commanded for the Christian, therefore he must not be giving anything. It's very strange thinking, but I know where they're getting it. It's from all those sermons on tithing they've heard, heard without checking them out.

I love the church. I really do. That is one of the reasons I hate hearing the teachings of men preached as the doctrines of God. There are, frankly, not many things that get me more worked up than people trying to hold me--or the rest of the church--accountable to commands that God has simply never issued.

And I must close by noting this: my pastor does not teach tithing. Oh, he says he does, but when you talk to him, you find that when he says, "Tithe," what he means is what others call "grace giving." That is, he'll tell you that the believer is supposed to give as God moves him and blesses him, and there is not any specific amount or percentage. Why he uses the word "tithe" when that is not what he means, I don't know.

Habit, I guess.

At any rate, the smartest thing I ever heard about the subject of giving was out of a former pastor, who said that he tried to follow this approach when there was a need:

"Trust God, and tell the people."

Amen, an' amen...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

But the Assertion is Utter Crap..

I'm not linking here, as I don't wish to hold the individual up to what may be perceived as ridicule, but I just ran across--at the time of writing, that is, by the time you see it, this post will have been in the pipeline for several days--a perfect example of how people can have the weirdest mixed bag of ideas, how they can be so smart on some subjects and so easily mislead on others.

It was one of the food bloggers, talking about why food prices are rising. Now, although I may be mistaken, I would say, overall, that this writer has what I might easily term a conservative temperament. I think she's a Christian, though that isn't the focus of her blogging. Certainly, as regards food and eating and agriculture, she's inclined to seek out and preserve the Old Ways. That may be partly why she seems to have accepted the idea that oil--petroleum--is scarce and getting scarcer in this world, and that hence, agriculture that relies on fossil fuels is partly to blame for food prices. That is an assertion that I typically associate with leftist environmentalists, but there it is in a person whose overall temperament seems quite conservative.

Now, I neither doubt nor disparage for an instant the idea that backyard gardening and local agriculture are great ideas and a tremendous help to a healthy, ecologically-sound table. So, in practical terms, I suppose that the following caveat would make no difference to either of us in terms of what we actually do. It's more a difference in why.

The reality is that Paul Erlich thought we would be out of oil by now, but the proven resources of oil have grown, not shrunk. There is enough oil available within the United States to power the country for a very long time. It is true that some of it is harder to get to than we would like, but it is by no means undoable, or even unaffordable, not in a world where oil prices routinely top eighty dollars a barrel. There is no reason to blame rising food prices on a scarcity of oil per se, but plenty of reason to blame a scarcity of available oil--and hence, rising food prices--on unreasonable energy and environmental policies. It may seem a subtle distinction, but it is important.

I probably sound like I'm rambling, and if so, I apologize. I don't offer up this example to kvetch, but to illustrate how difficult it is to pigeonhole people's thinking. Yes, it is true that it is possible to paint in broad strokes, to talk about liberals and conservatives in general, but when it comes to individuals, you have to be more careful. Most people simply aren't that easy to categorize.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Don't Just Assume Stupidity

I was explaining--what was I explaining? Kinda hard to put it into words, I guess--my general approach to life, the universe, and everything to a co-worker a week or so ago.

"My general thinking is that individual people and what they do may be stupid," I said, "but in general, the people as a group are wise, and you can usually count on this: if things have been done a certain way for a long, long time, there's a reason. I may not know what that reason is, but that doesn't mean there isn't a reason. And it's true that sometimes it turns out there isn't a reason, or the reason has been lost to the passage of time, or the reason may have been relevant a thousand years ago, but isn't anymore. But for the most part, people as a body are not stupid, and you're well-advised to at least consider the old ways thoroughly before discarding them. There may be more to them than you think."

I wouldn't have remembered that conversation, probably, but a blogpost concerning a particular martial arts technique that one noted individual had dramatically changed for his system reminded me of it. Y'see, I'd given, as an example of my thinking, my personal experience with taekwon-do and RyuTe.

I made it almost all the way to shodan--first-degree black belt--in taekwon-do. That was a fairly long time ago, and there were still plenty of taekwon-do teachers around whose teaching was not exclusively geared to sporting competitions. Not that I didn't learn tournament sparring--I did--but I also learned the old ITF hyung that were based on the Okinawan kata, and, overall, I'd say I learned how to hit pretty hard, not just how to score points.

Those old hyung always puzzled me. Why, I wondered, were we being told to "chamber" both hands like so before executing a double punch (or whatever)? Why were there "salutes" in the hyung? I never really got answers to those questions, and many like them, but I never doubted for an instant that there were perfectly good reasons we did those things. I just didn't know what the reasons were.

To me, it came down to a relatively simple question: were the people who made those hyung, those kata, stupid? If I wasn't prepared to assume from the get-go that they were stupid or ignorant--and of course, I had been told that the forms originated with masters long ago--then I had to assume that those not-stupid, not-ignorant people had reasons for what they did.

When I wound up with the opportunity to study RyuTe (then traveling under the name "Ryukyu Kempo"), I found the reasons. The movements did indeed have meanings. Stacked hands, like in a "chamber," meant something. There were effective techniques connected with such motions and positions. The old masters weren't dolts. Every "block," every strike, every motion and position of the legs, forward and reverse, has meaning and applications.

The fact that I didn't know they were there when I was studying taekwon-do didn't mean they weren't there. The fact that it takes more than a handful of repetitions to get good at them doesn't mean they aren't quick and effective.

Every so often, I'm glad I didn't decide, before I began to understand techniques a little better (I will readily admit that I still have much to learn), to just discard or modify the old ways and go on to something different in the name of modernity. Without wishing to seem critical, it seems to me that rather a lot of people have done that, not just in martial arts, but as regards life in general. The "noted individual" to whom I obliquely referred a moment ago may well have been a case in point, in that the dramatic change he made had a certain surface-level logic to it, but when he made it, he discarded countless applications that can only be correctly performed when the technique is performed--you guessed it!--the old way. Whether he understood this and chose to make the change in the name of simplifying things for his American students, or whether he didn't understand it and just thought the old masters must not have quite "gotten it," I don't know.

I just know I do my best not to make that mistake, again, not just in martial arts, but as regards life in general. The old ways have survived for a reason. It might be worth your time to determine what that reason is before discarding them.
Just my two cents. No disrespect intended. Not naming names is deliberate, as the idea here is to illustrate a point, not to make anyone feel bad or anything.

Mr. Buchanan on the Repeal of DADT

I know: I quote Pat Buchanan so often that y'all probably think I agree with everything he says.

I don't. But I do agree with the majority of what he says, and in this case, he was more or less channeling my thoughts. I'd quote the whole thing, but I'll restrain myself, give you just a taste, and strongly recommend that you go read the whole thing:
A Democratic Congress, discharged by the voters on Nov. 2, has as one of its last official acts, imposed its San Francisco values on the armed forces of the United States.

"Don't ask, don't tell" is to be repealed. Open homosexuals are to be welcomed with open arms in all branches of the armed services.

Let us hope this works out better for the Marine Corps than it did for the Catholic Church.

Remarkable. The least respected of American institutions, Congress, with an approval rating of 13 percent, is imposing its cultural and moral values on the most respected of American institutions, the U.S. military.

Why are we undertaking this social experiment with the finest military on earth? Does justice demand it? Was there a national clamor for it?

No. It is being imposed from above by people, few of whom have ever served or seen combat, but all of whom are aware of the power of the homosexual rights lobby. This is a political payoff, at the expense of our military, to a militant minority inside the Democratic Party that is demanding this as the price of that special interest's financial and political support.

Among the soldiers most opposed to bringing open homosexuals into the ranks are combat veterans, who warn that this will create grave problems of unit cohesion and morale.

One Marine commandant after another asked Congress to consider the issue from a single standpoint:

Will the admission of gay men into barracks at Pendleton and Parris Island enhance the fighting effectiveness of the Corps?

Common sense suggests that the opposite is the almost certain result.

Can anyone believe that mixing small-town and rural 18-, 19- and 20-year-old Christian kids, aspiring Marines, in with men sexually attracted to them is not going to cause hellish problems?

The Marines have been sacrificed by the Democratic Party and Barack Obama to the homosexual lobby, with the collusion of no fewer than eight Republican senators.
And you people who have never been in the military? Do be aware that I'm having a hard time understanding why I should take your opinion on the subject very seriously.

DadGUMmit, That's Not "Begging the Question!"

I write with the hair smoldering right off my scalp, which it always does when someone says or writes "That begs the question," when what they mean is "That RAISES the question."

To "beg the question" is not for a question to arise as a logical consequence of previous words. It is a specific logical error:
To "beg" the question is to ask that the very point at issue be conceded, which is of course illegitimate.

[snip]

Any form of argument in which the conclusion occurs as one of the premises, or a chain of arguments in which the final conclusion is a premise of one of the earlier arguments in the chain. More generally, an argument begs the question when it assumes any controversial point not conceded by the other side.
I know, I know: picayune stuff to get annoyed about, right? But I hear this one with some frequency, and dadgummit, people oughtta know better...

People do actually commit the error of begging the question, you know. Not so long ago, I witnessed it being done vis-a-vis the supposed right to homosexual marriage and the fourteenth amendment. It annoys me to hear someone talk about raising a question but saying "That begs the question," because when someone does actually beg the question and you point out the error, he just looks at you like you're a lunatic.

Monday, December 20, 2010

My General Experience with Liberals and Leftists

Brent Bozell notes:
Liberals like Walters always assume that if you're liberal, you're smart; if you're conservative, you're either evil or stupid. Or both.
There are, of course, exceptions. Not every liberal you meet is like this. But most of the ones I meet start our "relationship," such as it is, with a fairly obvious air of condescension, a fairly obvious assumption that I couldn't possibly have a clue what I am talking about. My appearance doesn't help, I suppose. I am almost always adorned with a worn-out ballcap, black jeans, and a Carhartt vest that make me the spittin' image of the average Oklahoma redneck. I guess I don't look like the studious type.

But oh, how the tables turn...

It is flatly amazing how few liberals have read our founding documents, yet have the nerve to pontificate on American politics. To my mind, if you haven't at least read The Federalist Papers, you ought to approach the subject with at least a little humility, or at least the presumption that just possibly, that ignorant-looking fellow in the ballcap might not be any worse informed than you are. This, liberals generally fail to do, and when they find out otherwise, that's when the "evil" part comes into play--that is, when they find out that they can't baffle you with BS, they start accusing you of being mean and evil-spirited and narrow-minded and judgmental.

For my part, I don't hold that liberals are necessarily either evil or stupid. My general feeling is that there are two camps, so to speak: some people are liberals and generally at least mean well, and some people are hard-core leftists, and do not mean well at all, and are just wolves in
sheep's clothing:
video
The problem with liberals is generally that they let their emotions and empathy run ahead of their thinking. The problem with leftists is that they want control over you and your money and are trying to get it under a faux cloak of compassion.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

One Reason Folks Like Sarah Palin

Here y'go:
I’m glad the Senate came to its senses and killed the omnibus spending monstrosity. That outrageous trillion-dollar pork buffet was an outright slap in the face to the American public’s expressed wishes in the last election. It was as if Congress was earning its historically low 13 percent approval rating before our very eyes. I applaud senators like Jim DeMint, John McCain, and others who fought this and stopped it.

However, the very fact that some lawmakers on Capitol Hill thought such reckless spending was even remotely acceptable is disturbing. We’re facing trillion-dollar deficits and a record national debt, but some people still want to continue spending like there’s no tomorrow. If the European debt crisis teaches us anything, it’s that tomorrow always comes. Sooner or later, the markets will expect us to settle the bill for the enormous Obama-Pelosi-Reid spending binge. We’ve already been warned by the credit ratings agency Moody’s that unless we get serious about reducing our deficit, we may face a downgrade of our credit rating. Even the lamest of lame ducks can’t ignore this reality.
Now, of course, some folks on the Left will immediately holler, "Of course we want to reduce the deficit! We've got to raise taxes!"

I think it was at the last Democratic National Convention that Neal Boortz was doing his radio show, and some big-wig Democrat mover-and-shaker came by, and to his credit, sat in for a while with the Talkmaster. Boortz asked him a question that he'd previously said he'd always wanted to ask some high-level Democrat.

"What is the maximum that any one person should have to pay in taxes?"

The answer came back, missing not so much as a heartbeat: "Not one penny more than is necessary to pay for essential governmental services."

It was slick, but it was a total non-answer. The debate immediately becomes over what governmental services are "essential." In effect, though possibly unintentionally, the man was admitting that if people came to regard enough governmental services as "essential," there might be no limit on the percentage of your income you'd have to pay in taxes.

Raising taxes to pay for bloated government is not the answer any more than putting more money into the grocery budget is the answer to obesity. However, since darn few, if any, governmental services will be admitted by the Left to be non-essential, in practical terms, it is the only answer they will consider.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

John Bennett on the "Winter Holiday" Crap

Yep--about what I think, it is:
Multiculturalism creates a neurotic and dishonest society.

This is seen very plainly during the Christmas season. Those of us who celebrate Christmas are told that we must rip the very core of this season out, and replace it with a phony, soulless thing called "Holiday" or "Winter." This is dishonest because nobody celebrates winter. "Holiday" is a shallow term to describe Christmas; the term abuses language to impose a false meaning on a reality that most of us cherish.

"Holiday" and "Winter" are weasel words used by cultural appeasers who are too ashamed of their own culture to say what everybody knows to be true. That is, that most of us are celebrating Christmas. Maintaining Christmas is part of preserving the culture that gave us almost everything that we have worth keeping. The whole name-changing charade is neurotic because it forces people to pretend that our majority culture is not what it actually is.

[snip]

Make no mistake about it, those who rip Christmas out of public life are duplicitous and exploitative, no matter what they claim their victim status to be, and no matter how noble their motives. It is duplicitous to attack the majority culture under the pretense of tolerance, when the outcome of the ostensible tolerance is to be intolerant of the majority culture. It is exploitative to use privileged victim status to enforce personal preferences at the expense of a profoundly important cultural and, yes, religious observance. There are few things more self-centered than using privileged victim status to erase part of the culture one finds themselves in.

[snip]

At root, this toxic tolerance and holiday madness is produced by blending multicultural appeasement with a thoughtless liberal notion of equality- not equality brought about by merit or based on majority norms, but equality brought about by government coercion, leveling, and betraying the majority culture.

[snip]

We in America, and in the West as a whole, need to stop apologizing for our culture. We –or more accurately those who came before us- have created something great, and that is why people leave their non-Christian nations to come here and to other Western nations. How dare anyone say they have a right to the benefits of our society while at the same time attacking the root of our culture?

The norm needs to be reinforced: At Christmas time, we are celebrating the birth of the historical figure who gave rise to our culture, Jesus Christ. We who celebrate Christmas should be vocal in saying that we are offended when Christmas is ripped out of public life. Those who do not celebrate can bloody well not celebrate. It is selfish and insulting to demand that the majority alter something sacred, simply for the convenience or comfort of an unreasonable minority.
"Those who do not celebrate can bloody well not celebrate." That works for me. You don't like the holiday, save the money, don't buy the gifts, don't waste your time at the parade. Go light a winter solstice bonfire or something, if you can find a place that's legal to do it. Don't act like a DARNFOOL and insist that the rest of the society you live in alter the holiday to suit your tastes and preferences.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Of Course It's Unconstitutional

At the risk of being called a "Tenther" by folks who give no indication whatsoever of having read The Federalist Papers and The Anti-Federalist Papers and possibly not even the Constitution itself, I must note that Henry Hudson's ruling that Obamacare's "individual mandate" is unconstitutional is something of a no-brainer for anyone who's actually read those documents.

I'm very serious. The issues involved are not complex, not hard to understand at all. You might want to start with, say, Federalist 41.

Anyone who tells you Obamacare is constitutional is either ignorant as, ah, aitch-ee-double-toothpicks or lyin' through their insertyourexpletiveofchoicehere teeth. Or possibly just dumber than a bag of hammers.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I Swear I Run into These People All the Time

Michelle Malkin describes a conversation (links in the original) the likes of which I've had, in person and electronically, waaaaaaay too many times. The sort of conversation wherein someone who thinks he knows something about Christianity and/or Christians does nothing so much as reveal what a buffoon he is.
Here’s the errrrrrudite liberal journo Richard Wolffe mocking Sarah Palin for citing famed, beloved Christian author, novelist, lay theologian, and apologist C.S. Lewis as a source of divine inspiration (via The Daily Caller):

Incredibly, Wolffe derides the author of “Mere Christianity,” “The Abolition of Man,” “The Screwtape Letters,” and so many other seminal works as merely a writer of “a series of kids’ books” in order to jab at Palin.

Fellow Palin-basher Chris Matthews tried to save Wolffe from himself by counseling him not to “put down” Lewis. Wolffe ignored him.

When I think of Wolffe and his smug media peers in the intellectual establishment, I think of Lewis’s brilliant musings on Men Without Chests.

He had them pegged.

[snip]

Brian Faughnan called Wolffe out on Twitter. Here was his response. Seriously:

She said “divine inspiration”. Not the traditional reaction to theological essays, even formidable ones by Lewis.

And here’s a reminder again of Wolffe said on MSNBC:

WOLFFE: “Look, divine inspiration from a series of KIDS’ BOOKS. I don’t think, um, C.S. Lewis really would want that.”

MATTHEWS: “But…I wouldn’t put down C.S. Lewis down…”

Wolffe sputters about Newsmax, which Palin says she reads, before again hitting at Palin for — gasp! — drawing religious lessons from a profoundly religious author.
Not to be uncharitable, but it certainly appears that Mr. Wolffe was completely unfamiliar with Lewis' philosophical and scholarly stature, apparently thinking of him "merely" as an author of children's books.

I can't tell you how many times I've seen crap like this.

People telling me this or that about the text or the canon of scripture--blissfully unaware, every one of them, that I've almost certainly read more on the subject than they are aware exists, and that assertions and arguments with which I'm not familiar are DARNFEW and almost certainly of no significance--that is, yes, I think I have at least a lay-level understanding of all the significant arguments. Darn near every one of them relying on pseudo-scholarship that has been discredited for decades (in some cases, for centuries). More than a few relying on half-remembered misinformation from authors that are regarded by more accomplished scholars as little more than bad jokes.

I had one "idiot"--actually, he was a friend of mine, and a fellow member of Mensa--tell me over and over again about the canon of scripture. I had never heard quite the theory he was spouting, and eventually, I asked him for the source. Turned out his wife--a wee snip of a girl probably not more than twenty at the time--had heard it in some college class on religion. Couldn't cite an author, couldn't cite any source, couldn't even remember the teacher's name. But shoot, he thought his wife's half-remembered, probably garbled, "information" from only-God-knows-who was authoritative. That kind of thinking is why I just referred to him as an "idiot," despite his demonstrably above-average I.Q.

I'll be blunt: the number of non-Christians I've encountered who have more than a blithering idiot's understanding of canonicity, textual criticism, textual reliability, sola scriptura, basic Christian theology, Christians, even religious history in general, is exactly zero. They gaily spout criticisms they found in the writings of some pop-culture dipstick as though they were Holy Writ, and never, ever, ever exert themselves to see if anyone has a comeback.

They have never read F.F. Bruce. Never even heard of him.

They have never read Van Til. Never even heard of him.

They have never read Norman Geisler on apologetics. Never even heard of him.

They have never read Webster and King. Never even heard of them.

They have never read Metzger. Never even heard of him.

They have never read Zacharias. Never even heard of him.

They have never read Schaeffer. Never even heard of him.

They have never read Kreeft, they have never read Augustine, they have never read Johnson, they have never read Morris, they have never read Morison, they have never read Kaiser, they have never read Luther, they have never read Calvin, they have never read Bunyan, they have never read Piper.

A few--darn few--will have heard of Josh McDowell, but if they've read a sentence he's written, it will be nothing more than his famous tract, "More Than a Carpenter."

Most of them have not even read the Bible and saying that they have only the most tenous grasp of what it says is being extremely charitable.

Oh, there are such non-Christians out there, non-Christians who've made themselves familiar with at least some of these, or other, authors. I am not saying otherwise. But the ones I meet? No. They are not familiar with these authors, indeed, with any authors critical of their hilariously misinformed and one-sided views of scripture, Christianity and Christians. They have not made the smallest effort to become familiar with them. They have not made the smallest effort to even find out if such people exist. Yet they expect me to take their opinions seriously.

Anymore, though, I don't spend a whole lot of time trying to disabuse those folks of their quaint little notions. I don't generally recommend books anymore. I just tell them what the Bible says. I have come to see, per the first chapter of Romans, that these folks' problem is analogous to the sighted man who goes outside and says he doesn't see a sky.

He knows it's there. He can see it. Everybody can see it. It's obvious, so obvious that when he denies it's there, nobody bothers to try to convince him otherwise. Nobody tries to argue for the sky's existence from the evidence. They just look at him as though he's deranged and go about their business.

People that don't believe in God are like this. They know He's there. They can see it. Everything in creation points to His existence. It's obvious. You can try to argue with them all day long, but it's pointless. Their problem isn't the evidence, which is abundant and clear. Their problem is that they don't want to see.

Hey, man, don't blame me. I got it from Paul, who got it from God.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Diana West on the Value of Wikileaks

I am not happy about the material that was leaked to Julian Assange. I am no legal scholar and am not prepared to offer an opinion as to whether the actions of those involved amount to espionage. I am not even prepared to offer a firm opinion about the nature of the damage that was done to this country by these leaks. I have read more than one opinion from conservative authors, some holding that the leaks fatally compromise other countries' confidence in our ability to keep secrets, others suggesting that the leaks demonstrate the folly of having homosexuals in the military, others saying that the leaks reveal only what everybody probably already knew or suspected anyway.

Diana West, delightfully independent and incisive thinker that she is, offers some of the most interesting commentary, of which I provide a small sample:
One running theme that emerges from the leaked cables is that the U.S. government consistently obscures the identity of the nation's foes, for example, depicting the hostile peoples of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States as "allies." It's not that such hostility is a secret, or even constitutes news. But the cables reveal that our diplomats actually recognize that these countries form the financial engine that drives global jihad, or, as they mincingly prefer to call it, "terrorism." But they, with the rest of the government, keep the American people officially in the dark

[snip]

Whether such information was originally "classified," the body politic should be electrified by the fact, as revealed by the leaked cables, that nations from Pakistan to Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia are regularly discussed as black holes of infinite corruption into which American money gushes, either through foreign aid or oil revenue, and unstaunched and unstaunchable sources of terror or terror-financing. If this were to get out -- and guess what, it did -- the foreign policy of at least the past two administrations, Democrat and Republican alike, would be unmasked as a colossal failure.
Now, again, for those who wonder: I am not at all opposed to fighting terrorism. My main concerns have been that we ought, before fighting wars, to declare them in the constitutionally prescribed fashion, and that we not try fighting terrorism by trying to change a centuries-old culture to which millions upon millions of people are devoted. It is not at all realistic to suppose that we will secure freedom from terrorism by turning nations and peoples that have never shown any interest in government as the protector of the God-given rights of all men--believer and non-believer alike--into American-style representative republics. That is a fool's errand. Like it or not, American-style representative government is based squarely on a Judeo-Christian worldview, and its originators said repeatedly that it would not work without a people devoted to such a view (a state that we are too close to achieving, in my view). There is not the proverbial snowball's chance that it is going to work in Dar al Islam, but making it work there is the basis of much of our foreign policy.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why Sarah Palin Worries So Many People

I've read so much awful stuff about Sarah Palin lately, both from the Left and the Right (you would not believe how many people putatively on the Right absolutely despise Sarah Palin). After reading so much of that stuff, folks can be forgiven for wondering exactly what it is about the woman that results in Palin Derangement Syndrome. I've written on this before, but let me lay it out in a nutshell for you, in case you were wondering:

It has relatively little to do with whether or not she's going to run for president. It's the population segment she appeals to. The woman's exactly like millions upon millions of what were once considered perfectly normal Americans. Liberals and Leftists and certain Elites that mostly hang out with their buddies that think, act, and speak just like themselves have a hard time accepting this. Confronted with Sarah Palin's popularity with millions of Americans--yes, I know about the polling, about even numbers disapprove and approve, those that strongly disapprove are about double those that strongly approve, all of that is irrelevant to the point that I'm making--those Liberals, Leftists, and Elites are left going, "Holy Crap! There's a buttload of those people, and they all think we're full of crap and they're sick of our...schtuff! What are we gonna do?"

It's hard to run roughshod over millions of people, not that the attempt won't be--or isn't being--made. Sarah Palin's popularity forcibly confronts some people with a hard reality that they don't want to face--namely, that, no, the American public isn't anywhere nearly as solidly on their side as they would like to pretend to themselves, that a rather large segment of the population thinks they're full of bovine fecal matter.

There you have it. Just my two cents.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Listen, Dumb Mass...


The title, of course, is not universally applicable. But if the foo--ahem--wear it.
Y'know, I really do pity some people. They think they live in a world where Republicans routinely champion big business and Democrats routinely favor the little guy. They think that Republicans are warmongers and Democrats are peacemakers. They think that Republicans are censorious and Democrats favor freedom of expression.

The reality is considerably more complex.

I'd love to say that there is such a thing as a "pure" conservative or a "pure" liberal. It'd sure as thunder make political blogging a lot simpler. But there probably hasn't been a "pure" conservative since Edmund Burke, and even he might not qualify by some people's definitions, and when you have the likes of flaming, hell-bent-for-leather, far left Ted Rall screaming that Barack Obama is just another right wing warmonger, it ought to be getting clear to you that finding a "pure" liberal isn't easy, either.

Shoot. I'm tired tonight. But let me spell it out for you, ye who see no further than Democrats good, Republicans bad. I'll try to use small words.

In the real world, all political parties, especially the big ones, and most especially the main two, the Republicans and the Democrats, are simply coalitions of people with widely--widely!--disparate interests. They band together to promote candidates and policies, and all those candidates and policies are, at best, compromises between those disparate interests, with the end result being that the candidates each party runs are often only mildly less repugnant to any given party member than the candidates the opposition runs.

No Republican represents the thinking or behavior of all Republicans. It can't be done.

No Democrat represents the thinking or behavior of all Democrats. It can't be done.

What do you do with the guy who's into Far Eastern martial disciplines and is moving steadily toward growing more vegetables, learning about canning, drying, and preserving nutrient-dense whole, traditional foods--and is simultaneously a Southern Baptist, free-market, anti-free-trade, Constitutional constructionist?

What do you do with a different guy, another one who's into Far Eastern martial disciplines, likes guns, thinks his oncologist son-in-law deserves to make potloads of money, and favors universal health care?

What do you do with the conservatives that are anti-war, America-firsters?

What do you do with the liberals and neocons that are agitating for war--or at least a show of force--vis-a-vis North Korea?

What about the pro-free-market, pro-choice Republicans?

What about the Pink Pistols?

What about the Log Cabin Republicans?

What about the anti-illegal-immigration union members?

What about the--admittedly rare--pro-life Democrats? What about pro-life, pro-universal-health-care Democrats?

What about the big agribusinesses that actually welcome increased regulatory burdens because they have the effect of killing off smaller competitors--competitors that, incidentally, are often responsible for a lot of the locally-grown, naturally-raised foods that--allegedly--more liberal types favor? Lord have mercy, there are people in this world simple enough to believe that a vote against more government regulation of the food business is necessarily a vote against food safety.

What about the likes of Monsanto? Have you heard or read about them and soybeans? If not, google it--and then ask yourself whether being against that sort of thing is being anti-big-business or pro-free-market-competition.

Have you ever heard of veggie libel laws? If not, google that--and then ask yourself whether such things are anti-libel or anti-First Amendment.

What about homeschoolers? Are they Christian zealots or are they just trying to avoid being indoctrinated by "the man?"

God knows--only God knows--what the modern Democratic Party would do with the likes of Andrew Jackson. Only God knows what the modern Republican Party would do with the likes of Abraham Lincoln.

It is a darn weird world when Blacks persistently vote against the party that was anti-slavery, and when the party that tolerated "Sheets" Byrd for decades lambasts its opposition as "racist."

There are conservatives who think they're libertarians, libertarians who claim to be conservatives, FDR-style-big-government Republicans who publicly profess an attachment to small government, socially-conservative union activists, and so forth. The reality is that the political world is one heckuva lot more complex than Democrats good, Republicans bad (or vice versa), and to my mind, one of the hallmarks, one of the distinguishing characteristics, of the true Dumb Mass is the persistent attempt to paint it more simply than it really is.