July 31, 2010

Right Reason,

From Idea Of A University, by John Henry Newman. (Thanks to Carl Olsen)
Right Reason, that is, Reason rightly exercised, leads the mind to the Catholic Faith, and plants it there, and teaches it in all its religious speculations to act under its guidance. But Reason, considered as a real agent in the world, and as an operative principle in man's nature, with an historical course and with definite results, is far from taking so straight and satisfactory a direction.

It considers itself from first to last independent and supreme; it requires no external authority; it makes a religion for itself. Even though it accepts Catholicism, it does not go to sleep; it has an action and development of its own, as the passions have, or the moral sentiments, or the principle of self-interest. Divine grace, to use the language of Theology, does not by its presence supersede nature; nor is nature at once brought into simple concurrence and coalition with grace. Nature pursues its course, now coincident with that of grace, now parallel to it, now across, now divergent, now counter, in proportion to its own imperfection and to the attraction and influence which grace exerts over it.

And what takes place as regards other principles of our nature and their developments is found also as regards the Reason. There is, we know, a Religion of enthusiasm, of superstitious ignorance, of statecraft; and each has that in it which resembles Catholicism, and that again which contradicts Catholicism. There is the Religion of a warlike people, and of a pastoral people; there is a Religion of rude times, and in like manner there is a Religion of civilized times, of the cultivated intellect, of the philosopher, scholar, and gentleman. This is that Religion of Reason, of which I speak. Viewed in itself, however near it comes to Catholicism, it is of course simply distinct from it; for Catholicism is one whole, and admits of no compromise or modification.

Yet this is to view it in the abstract; in matter of fact, and in reference to individuals, we can have no difficulty in conceiving this philosophical Religion present in a Catholic country, as a spirit influencing men to a certain extent, for good or for bad or for both,–a spirit of the age, which again may be found, as among Catholics, so with still greater sway and success in a country not Catholic, yet specifically the same in such a country as it exists in a Catholic community. The problem then before us today, is to set down some portions of the outline, if we can ascertain them, of the Religion of Civilization, and to determine how they lie relatively to those principles, doctrines, and rules, which Heaven has given us in the Catholic Church.
Posted by John Weidner at 3:19 PM


Warren Meyer, Forbes.com:

...My training is not in economics, but in business and management. Perhaps I am biased by my background, which includes 15 years of strategy and planning at large corporations and 10 years running my own business. But my framework for economic growth is a simple one: For growth to occur, someone has to make an investment.

When I use the term "investment," I am using it rather broadly. Clearly building a new steel mill is an investment. But hiring an additional employee and paying his or her salary ahead of any new revenues is an investment too. Quitting one's job and giving up a regular salary with a large company to start a new business represents an investment as well.

Here is my first law of economic growth: When we encourage more investment, and ensure this investment is being channeled to the most productive uses, growth will follow.

For all the talk about fiscal stimulus and jobs creation at the federal and state level, almost no one in government is doing anything about reducing the roadblocks to investment. For example, millions of people are newly unemployed, and in past recessions a large number of these folks have eschewed looking for a new corporate job and have started businesses of their own. Unfortunately, such prospective entrepreneurs will face a tangle of registration, regulatory and licensing hurdles, many of which have been backed by established businesses that want to avoid just this kind of new competition. Even steps like the extension of unemployment benefits tend to discourage such entrepreneurship by increasing the opportunity cost of working for oneself.

No one in government, that I have heard, has even suggested any sort of regulation holiday as a potential economic stimulus program....[my emphasis]

I really like his broad-brush use of the term "investment." Most of what the "financial sector" does is not investment, it is selling capital to the person who is making an investment. Capital always has to be paid for, just like labor and materials.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:05 AM

July 30, 2010

Keynesian economics 101...

I liked this little story, posted by Doug Brady, at C4P....

Shortly after class, an economics student approaches his economics professor and says, "I don't understand this stimulus bill. Can you explain it to me?"

The professor replied, "I don't have any time to explain it at my office, but if you come over to my house on Saturday and help me with my weekend project, I'll be glad to explain it to you." The student agreed.

At the agreed-upon time, the student showed up at the professor's house. The professor stated that the weekend project involved his backyard pool.

They both went out back to the pool, and the professor handed the student a bucket. Demonstrating with his own bucket, the professor said, "First, go over to the deep end, and fill your bucket with as much water as you can." The student did as he was instructed.

The professor then continued, "Follow me over to the shallow end, and then dump all the water from your bucket into it." The student was naturally confused, but did as he was told.

The professor then explained they were going to do this many more times, and began walking back to the deep end of the pool.

The confused student asked, "Excuse me, but why are we doing this?"

The professor matter-of-factly stated that he was trying to make the shallow end much deeper.

The student didn't think the economics professor was serious, but figured that he would find out the real story soon enough.

However, after the 6th trip between the shallow end and the deep end, the student began to become worried that his economics professor had gone mad. The student finally replied, "All we're doing is wasting valuable time and effort on unproductive pursuits.

Even worse, when this process is all over, everything will be at the same level it was before, so all you'll really have accomplished is the destruction of what could have been truly productive action!"

The professor put down his bucket and replied with a smile, "Congratulations.You now understand the stimulus bill."
Posted by John Weidner at 9:39 AM

July 27, 2010

Unreal deaths...

CBS's Lara Logan, responding to Katie Couric,..

...Well, the issue of civilian casualties is a major one and the U.S. has taken a lot of criticism because of this. However, what's interesting to note that is according to the documents, 195 Afghan civilians have been killed. But also according to the documents, two thousand Afghan civilians have been killed by the Taliban, which is more than ten times the number said to be killed by U.S. and NATO forces. And very little is being made of that. The coverage would indicate that it's more of an issue for the U.S. to kill Afghan civilians than it is for the Taliban to do so....

This just puts a finger on what I keep saying, that to most leftists, the world is not real, except for the US and Israel. Even if the Taliban slaughter millions, it won't be of any concern to them. The only real thing is their interior psycho-drama, as they desperately strive to cobble up excuses to avoid their duty to God and country, and avoid confronting the interior vacuum.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:54 AM

July 25, 2010

Why does God create?

Fr. Robert Barron, "God does not need us"


Posted by John Weidner at 7:32 AM

July 23, 2010

Something is happening here but you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?

Cedra Crenshaw...

Posted by John Weidner at 2:28 PM

Ah Watergate . . . I remember it well...

I'm put in mind of this, from Isaac Asimov's memoir, In Joy Still Felt: The Autobiography of Isaac Asimov 1954-1978 ...

...From that point on, I took to combing the Times from cover to cover every morning, skipping only the column by Nixon's minion, William Safire. I sometimes bought the New York Post, so that I could read additional commentary. I listened to every news report on the radio.

I read and listened with greater attention and fascination than in even the darkest days of World War II. Thus my diary entry for May 11, 1973, says, "Up at six to finger-lick the day's news on Watergate."...

My turn! Ha ha. Life is tough right now, but boy am I enjoying the slow but inexorable unravelling of foul leftist lies resulting from the exposure of e-mails, both the Climategate and now the Journolist revelations.

JournoGate Continued: Pouncing On Palin - IBD - Investors.com:

Media Bias: Ever wonder why 2008 VP candidate Sarah Palin was so ridiculed before much was known about her? Turns out liberal journalists engaged in a coordinated smear campaign to aid the Democratic ticket.

When we talked with Alaska's then-governor in the summer of 2008 about plans to develop her state's energy resources, she came across like most other Alaskans we've met — frank, down-to-earth, colloquial, but more than technocratically knowledgeable about the energy field.

The issue then for Gov. Palin was how to balance the development of Alaska's bountiful resources with its near-pristine environment. She also wrestled with how to create a healthy business climate in a state with a history of political corruption involving oil companies.

We detected a sense of duty as Palin spoke of bringing natural gas to the Lower 48, and we were impressed with the way she spoke authoritatively about Alaska's polar bear population and compassionately about the well-being of native Alaskans. We also interviewed longtime nonpolitical Alaskan bureaucrats who raved about working with the governor and praised her executive ability.

Sound like the Sarah Palin you read about when she was chosen as John McCain's running mate that fall? Hardly.

Suddenly Palin became a backwoods Christian fundamentalist hillbilly with five kids who couldn't possibly be who she said she was. Her intelligence was attacked, her accomplishments belittled, her verbal slips ridiculed, her family's privacy invaded and her clean record smeared with accusations of corruption, all of which proved false.

Now it's clear what was really going on. On Thursday, the Daily Caller published exchanges from a private forum called JournoList that showed how 400 top mainstream reporters and their activist buddies conspired in an attack against Palin the minute she entered the presidential race....

You're busted, animals. Oh, and this is right-on, by Jennifer Rubin:

... The angry white men and the hate-filled political marionettes aren't on talk radio. They're on Journolist....
Posted by John Weidner at 12:45 PM

July 22, 2010

do ya think they are capable of learning?

Jay Tea, Hey, Young Voters!:

...You voted for Obama in overwhelming numbers, didn't ya? How's that working out for you?

When Congress was getting ready to raise the minimum wage, a lot of us said that this would kill the job market for youth. Because, quite frankly, young workers aren't worth $7.25 an hour. The businesses that traditionally take on the newest members of the work force have very low expectations and, usually, very low profit margins. When the minimum wage shot up, most of them they didn't just bump their payroll proportionately -- they simply made do with fewer workers.

Further, when the economy started tanking, a lot of us noted that this would result in workers taking lower-paying jobs. This had the effect of shifting the workforce down the pay scale -- and the people at the bottom would just get shoved off. Teenagers seeking out the traditional jobs find themselves now competing with applicants in their 20s, 30s, even 40s and up.

And when given a choice between an 18-year-old rookie and someone older, with more experience, maturity, and skills, employers more often than not do the smart thing.

So, kids, can't get a job flipping burgers because Uncle Bob beat you to it? Landscapers ain't interested in someone who hasn't been doing it for several years? Movie theaters choosing Mom and Dad instead of you to sweep the aisles?

That's what you voted for, kids. Elections have consequences...
Posted by John Weidner at 2:09 PM

July 19, 2010

A too-easy out..

I don't have time to do it justice, but this comment on Romney's religion speech is very much in tune with my thoughts. I felt something similar recently when Nikki Haley indignantly rejected comments on her Sikh upbringing. What she should have said is that she's proud of her parents, and that their religion has many virtues that are very compatible with Christianity. And that she welcomed scrutiny!

It's from a good piece by Kenneth Anderson at The Volokh Conspiracy, Mormons in the Financial Times.

...What Romney's religion speech did was to take the tack adopted by some Muslim intellectuals and their defenders, but it has lots of antecedents among minority religions in American debates over politics and the public square — to challenge any demand to have a reasoned discussion of tenets of the faith as racism. Romney put his religion out of bounds — all of it — on roughly the same grounds. That can't possibly be right, and anyone in Romney's camp who thinks that it is should ask themselves whether they would accept that for a moment when, say, a Muslim says that this or that is required by God — honor killing, for example, or stoning an adulterous woman — end of discussion. Obviously it could be any religion or really any belief system; my point is to pick one where a conservative Republican is unlikely to agree on the grounds of moral relativism that, however, Romney's speech at a couple of crucial junctures demands. However inconvenient for Romney having to answer at least some questions as to the demands of his faith, that is what an engagement with reasoned toleration — rather than multiculturalism or relativism — demands in a liberal society. The rest of the article sets out criteria for what should be available for question and what not....

...It is a crucial mechanism that the United States has to get right(er), and avoid the ways in which Europe has got it wrong, if it seeks to have the traditional American resolution of religion and public life as Muslims, Mormons, and other faiths seek a place within the demos and the polis. For this reason, I would certainly urge Romney's advisors to do a fundamental re-think of his too-easy out last time around. ...
Posted by John Weidner at 7:41 AM

July 18, 2010

Weigel on Chesterton... "The sense of sacramentality"

This is by George Weigel, in Letters to a Young Catholic. A book I recommend. It's from a chapter of Chesterton quotes, with his thoughts on them...
On Small and Large Infinities

The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason . . . his mind moves in a perfect but narrow circle. A small circle is quite as infinite as a large circle; but, though it is quite as infinite, it is not so large . . . There is such a thing as a narrow universality; there is such a thing as a small and cramped eternity . . . the strongest and most unmistakable mark of madness is this combination between a logical completeness and a spiritual contraction.
[GK Chesterton]
What's wrong with the way many skeptical moderns "see" the world? They see the world as a narrow infinity because they've lost the sense of sacramentality. As GKC put it, the modern materialist skeptic—the modern gnostic—"understands everything and everything does not seem worth understanding." Catholicism offers a different kind of infinity: a larger infinity, in which reason is enriched by imagination and imagination is disciplined by reason. As I already suggested, in the Catholic sacramental imagination, we "think" with our brains, our senses, and our emotions. Thinking with only or brains gives us a headache; it also gives us an aching soul. The deepest longings within us—for communion with others, wisdom, joy, accomplishment, love—annot be satisfied by reducing the world to syllogisms. Human beings were made for a wider infinity, for a more ample eternity.

(The Chesterton quote is from Orthodoxy. It's available on the Web here.)


Posted by John Weidner at 2:22 PM

July 16, 2010

More skin in the game...

I liked this guy's ideas. 6 simple steps to fix the financial system, By Allan Sloan...

...1. Demand more skin in the game. Any reform plan worth its salt should greatly increase capital requirements -- the amount of money that stockholders have at risk, relative to an institution's assets -- for financial institutions. This is what people mean when they talk about reducing leverage. Lower leverage would make institutions less likely to fail, and any bailout of them less expensive.

Our most recent financial crisis, in which a relative handful of U.S. mortgages metastasized into a worldwide financial cancer, started with loans in which borrowers had nothing or almost nothing at risk. Neither did the companies that made the loans and sold them to other companies that bundled them, turned them into securities, and sold the securities to investors. At the end, these players walked away at little or no cost to themselves from the mess they had created, and stuck investors -- and society as a whole -- with a huge cost.

The fix? First, require any institution that turns loans into securities to keep at least 5% of each issue in its portfolio. Second, require a cash down payment from the homebuyer's own resources of at least 10% for any mortgage that's sold as part of a security or package of loans. (Lenders could make and hold lower-down-payment loans, but not sell them as securities.)...

...2. Increase the Fear Factor. If any financial institution fails or needs extraordinary help from the government, the government should be able to claw back five years' worth of stock grants, options profits, and cash salaries and bonuses in excess of $1 million a year. That would apply to the 10 top executives, current and former, with a five-year look-back period. It would also apply to board members, present and past. (People brought in by regulators for rescues that ultimately fail would be clawback-exempt.) ...

These are basically ideas that work by giving people very good reasons to police themselves. Instead of creating more bureaucrats to police them. They are a sort of marketplace-type incentive.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:57 PM

July 13, 2010

We must try harder not to pre-judge...

Charlene found this comment at Bookworm Room...

Charles Martel:
It's a sad state of affairs when we automatically suspect jihad whenever somebody with a Muslim-sounding name runs into a group of pedestrians, or accidentally sprays bullets in a mess hall, or detonates himself at an airport.
Posted by John Weidner at 6:04 PM

July 11, 2010

Non-Rovian political horse sense...

This piece captures something I hadn't clearly focused on. She's not aiming for a "coalition that is created by pitting American against American." Her point is that any commonsensical American should agree with her, and all are welcome on the bandwagon. Dave Gaultier on Sarah Palin's video, Mama Grizzlies:

...The strategy was as simple as it was effective. Rove calculated that by pitting Southerners against Northerners, rural Americans against urban Americans, and churchgoers against non-churchgoers, basic math would put his man on top. And he was right. But a clearinghouse of interest groups only lasts so long, as does a coalition that is created by pitting American against American. Such a coalition is bound to collapse, and it did.

Ironically, the woman who was selected by McCain to be a voiceless cultural icon in service to the Rove strategy is becoming the candidate who may have found her voice and is using it to move the Republican Party forward. There is nothing Rovian about "Mama Grizzlies." Look closely at the women that are represented as Palin's fellow Grizzlies. These women don't represent some single niche of America. There is no subtle hint that these women are from the South, or are evangelical Christians, or are blue collar gals who hang with Joe the Plumber on the weekends. To the contrary, they represent the Everywoman. Some may live in the cities, others in the suburbs, others in rural areas. Some may be from Alabama, and others from New York. Some may be religious and others, non-religious. They aren't pigeonholed by race or class or any other factor. The only thing that all of these women have in common is that they're all Americans, and they're all mad about the direction in which our country is headed...

... Given that she comes from a modest background and is pretty much entirely self-made, we can infer that her political skills come naturally to her and are not the consequence of, say, being a member of a political dynasty. In fact, Palin's combination of charisma, charm, and political horse sense remind me a lot of another self-made politician that no one could seem to take down, Bill Clinton....

...It now becomes clear why Palin insisted that the McCain campaign attempt to win Michigan back in 2008, instead of ceding it to Obama in favor of the red states, a strategy that epitomized the hopeless, hapless Republican establishment in the waning Bush years. My guess is that Nominee Palin would run a national campaign, aimed at turning states like Wisconsin and Michigan from blue to red...

...There's still a long way to go but I'm beginning to wonder if anyone in the Republican field can truly stop a fully operational Palin campaign. Her political skills at first glance appear to be eons beyond most of her competitors. That's something money can't buy. And she's up against a series of retreads, none of whom seemed particularly interesting the last time around. Democrats may be presently gleeful at the prospect of facing her. They shouldn't be. The last time a self-made political natural went up against a cerebral, embattled, sitting president was in 1992. And we all remember how that turned out....

Here's the video itself...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:50 PM

Bible facts you may not know #2

I wrote a previous post on various historical facts that can help make the Bible intelligible. (Read it here.) Here are some more...

Talent. The thing to keep in mind was that a Talent was a LOT of money. When Jesus told the story of the man giving his servant ten Talents to invest, (Matthew 25:14-30) it was probably like us saying ten million dollars! People would have smiled at the humor of it (and remembered the story because of it). No ordinary person would see such an amount in their whole life.

6,000 Greek Drachmae (or the equivalent Roman Denarius or Jewish Half-Shekel) made a silver Talent. One Drachmon was a very good day's wage. You could hire a mercenary for that. If you figure six work-days a week, then a silver Talent was over 19 man years! Ordinary people would have been thinking in terms of silver—a gold Talent was worth ten times as much.

The coin shown is a Greek Tetradrachmon coin, (four Drachmae) owned by my son the classicist. It's about the size of a nickel.

The name "Jesus." It's a Greek version of Jeshua, or Joshua. It is not some alien imposition. Palestine was embedded in the Greek-speaking world, and many Jews of the time also had Greek names or used alternate Greek versions of their Hebrew names. Something similar happens now. My kids have a friend named Sam, but he is also named Schmuel. There's no ambiguity because everyone knows both his names and what context they are used in.

Did Jesus speak Greek? Of course he did. My take is that the situation was similar to immigrant Jewish communities in America in, say, 1900. You spoke Yiddish in the neighborhood, but if you were a person of any smarts or ambition you needed to speak English too.

Joseph the carpenter. The word translated as carpenter is the Greek word "tekton." But this could also mean a builder or mason or even a tentmaker. Joseph might have been a very humble village carpenter making yokes and plows. But he could equally have been the master of a workshop. Or what we would call a contractor, employing workers. Nazareth was about four miles from Sepphoris, the largest city in Galilee. Sepphoris was destroyed by the Romans in 4BC, and was perhaps being busily re-built in Jesus' youth.

It is very possible that Nazareth was the equivalent of an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood today, with men going out to work among the gentiles, but returning to a small pure stand-offish community afterwards.

Bethlehem is about six miles south of Jerusalem. It was the birthplace of King David, and the place the Messiah was expected to come from. Archeologists say it was a very small place. Maybe a hundred houses. (And caves!) There would have been no inn, a visitor would have lodged in someone's house. Despite what "scholars" aver, it is historically likely that Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem. Why? Because people in a small pre-modern village would remember every happening or visitor. And certainly every kinsman, which Joseph was said to be. The Gospel of Luke came out a generation after Jesus, and the many enemies of the new Christians could easily have verified the story. Plus the Roman census records would still exist.

Dead Sea nearby. One of the interesting things I discovered when we went to Israel was how small the region is. And especially, how close the Dead Sea, the mouth of the Jordan, and the fortress of Masada are to Jerusalem. You could walk there in a day. My mental picture had been of places far far out in the desert, and I wondered why people would bother to go so far. No so. Also, these were places one typically went down to in the winter to escape the cold and wet of the Judean highlands. If you had money, it was sort of like Florida.

Slavery in classical world. It was very different from what we had in America. It was not chattel slavery. Think of it as a really obnoxious labor contract. There was no racial element, and the typical slave could expect to be freed if he worked out his time obediently. There was no permanent stigma; it could happen to anyone who was captured in war, or who fell into debt.

Jesus as peasant. "Scholars" love to take Jesus down a few pegs below their exalted level by referring to him as a peasant. But the word is fairly ambiguous. For instance a medieval English peasant might be a substantial village landholder with peasants working for him! (Good book: Life in a Medieval Village.) Likewise, being poor meant something different in a society where almost everyone was poor by our standards. Most of the priests for instance needed regular jobs to support them when they were not taking their turn serving in the Temple. The same with many a famous rabbi, and many of the prophets. Most of them could be called "peasants" by sneering academics.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:09 PM

July 10, 2010

"key element of this new consciousness"

...This new age will have the merit of discarding that hypocrisy by which the modern world evoked the forms, without the substance, of Christianity. In so doing, the post-Christian man will have to come to terms with the fact that to live without Christ is a hard choice with serious, even brutal, consequences.

The believer too will be faced with the increasingly inescapable realization the faith itself is a hard choice. On the one hand, this brave, new, post-Christian world will have little place in it for him. On the other hand, he will discover in all their fullness the demands his faith makes upon him, when he has to live it without the external affirmations afforded him within a Christian culture. He may indeed discover for the first time, as Guardini suggests, what it really means to be a Christian....

.....At the same time, it may well be that "the massive failure of Christendom itself", as Percy puts it, is already creating the only conditions, in the West at least, within which a genuine renewal of faith can take place. During a conversation I had with Walker Percy a few months before his death, he commented that, in his judgement, the Church is in a better position today than she has been in centuries. He thought the identification of culture and faith was disastrous for the Church in many ways.

He cited Kierkegaard's observation that it is almost impossible to become a Christian in Christendom. That is, people within a Christian culture are inclined to believe they automatically become Christians simply by virtue of having been born into that culture. Today people can see that no such identification exists and that a choice must therefore be made. He believed a new consciousness is emerging; and thus, the realization that the Church and the culture are at odds is a key, perhaps even the key, element of this new consciousness. As a result, the Church is on the firing line and that, as Percy saw it, is exactly where she properly belongs....
    -- From The Church and the Culture War, by Joyce A. Little, 1995


Posted by John Weidner at 6:20 PM

July 9, 2010

R.I.P. Seablogger

Blogger and poet Alan Sullivan has died; I have quoted him often here. Charlene and I once had lunch with him and his partner Tim Murphy in Fargo, ND! She and I will both miss reading him. He was always so open about his life and feelings that I feel closer to him than one normally would with an Internet acquaintance. Also, he came to Catholic faith not very long after I did. That was something that astonished and delighted us...

This is the last stanza of Alan and Tim's translation of Beowulf...

High on the headland         they heaped his grave-mound
which seafaring sailors         would see from afar.
Ten days they toiled         on the scorched hilltop,
the cleverest men         skillfully crafting
a long-home built         for the bold in battle.
They walled with timbers         the trove they had taken
sealing in stone         the circlets and gems
wealth of the worm-hoard         gotten with grief
gold from the ground         gone back to Earth
as worthless to men         as when it was won
the sorrowing swordsman         circled the barrow
twelve of his earls         telling their tales,
the sons of nobles         sadly saluting
deeds of the dead.         So dutiful thanes
in liege to their lord         mourn him with lays
praising his peerless         prowess in battle
as it is fitting         when life leaves the flesh.
Heavy-hearted         his hearth-companions
grieved for Beowulf         great among kings,
mild in his mien         most gentle of men,
kindest to kinfolk         and keenest for fame.

Some old posts that mention Alan... Link, link, link, link, link, link.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:53 PM

Lefties must destroy Haitians in order to save them...

Green Menace — The American, A Magazine of Ideas:

...The peasant groups are indigenous in theory, but not when it comes to money, as they rely on U.S. donors for funding. Corresponding sympathetic demonstrations were held in the United States. Groups marched on the Gates Foundation in Seattle (the group is not properly mortified by biotechnology, hence the protests); protesters burned genetically modified seed in Chicago and organized a march in Missoula, Montana; and the Organic Consumers of America sent out 10,000 emails protesting Monsanto's magnanimity.

Doudou Pierre, whose title is the "national coordinating committee member for the National Haitian Network for Food Sovereignty and Food Security," explains the protests this way: "We're for seeds that have never been touched by multinationals." The idea of local seed is driving the protests, as writer Beverly Bell explains: "Haitian social movements' concern is not just about the dangers of the chemicals and the possibility of future GMOs imports. They claim that the future of Haiti depends on local production with local food for local consumption, in what is called food sovereignty."

Hybrid seeds will increase yields over open pollinated seeds, whether purchased fertilizer is applied or not. This is why U.S. farmers adopted hybrids a generation before the widespread availability of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. One in four Haitians is hungry and, even before the earthquake, the average caloric intake in the country was far below United Nations-recommended levels. But that, of course, is of no consequence when compared to the importance of planting seeds untouched by multinational hands. Better starvation than accepting gifts from a company as evil as Monsanto...

Just another in the long list of liberals killing people in service of their ideas. Usually niggers in distant places that can't be seen from San Francisco or Ann Arbor...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:33 AM

July 7, 2010

Mitt's Hope n' Change in action...

I doubt if any RJ readers are believers in Obamacare, but but this piece is well worth reading...

Joseph Rago: The Massachusetts Health-Care 'Train Wreck' - WSJ.com:

...President Obama said earlier this year that the health-care bill that Congress passed three months ago is "essentially identical" to the Massachusetts universal coverage plan that then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed into law in 2006. No one but Mr. Romney disagrees.

As events are now unfolding, the Massachusetts plan couldn't be a more damning indictment of ObamaCare. The state's universal health-care prototype is growing more dysfunctional by the day, which is the inevitable result of a health system dominated by politics...
...An entitlement sold as a way to reduce costs was bound to fundamentally change the system. The larger question—for Massachusetts, and now for the nation—is whether that was really the plan all along.

"If you're going to do health-care cost containment, it has to be stealth," said Jon Kingsdale, speaking at a conference sponsored by the New Republic magazine last October. "It has to be unsuspected by any of the key players to actually have an effect." Mr. Kingsdale is the former director of the Massachusetts "connector," the beta version of ObamaCare's insurance "exchanges," and is now widely expected to serve as an ObamaCare regulator.

He went on to explain that universal coverage was "fundamentally a political strategy question"—a way of finding a "significant systematic way of pushing back on the health-care system and saying, 'No, you have to do with less.' And that's the challenge, how to do it. It's like we're waiting for a chain reaction but there's no catalyst, there's nothing to start it."

In other words, health reform was a classic bait and switch: Sell a virtually unrepealable entitlement on utterly unrealistic premises and then the political class will eventually be forced to control spending. The likes of Mr. Kingsdale would say cost control is only a matter of technocratic judgement, but the raw dirigisme of Mr. Patrick's price controls is a better indicator of what happens when health care is in the custody of elected officials rather than a market.

Naturally, Mr. Patrick wants to export the rate review beyond the insurers to hospitals, physician groups and specialty providers—presumably to set medical prices as well as insurance prices. Last month, his administration also announced it would use the existing state "determination of need" process [Why does this ring a bell? Din't somebody use the term "death panels?"] to restrict the diffusion of expensive medical technologies like MRI machines and linear accelerator radiation therapy.

Meanwhile, Richard Moore, a state senator from Uxbridge and an architect of the 2006 plan, has introduced a new bill that will make physician participation in government health programs a condition of medical licensure. This would essentially convert all Massachusetts doctors into public employees. [Would Lenin have disapproved?]

All of this is merely a prelude to far more aggressive restructuring of the state's health-care markets—and a preview of what awaits the rest of the country....

Anyone with half a brain can see that Romneycare and Obamacare are intended for the expansion of government into the most vulnerable points of our lives. Who will want to publicly fight against big government when their mother or their child is "under review" for some life-saving procedure? Review by government employees, who are always highly politicized? Ugh! Remember what happened to Joe the Plumber...

I'm the oddball here because I think the real goal is the destruction of souls. The real goal is to have people living in a world where tough choices are made for them, where they are encouraged to be passive and let others think for them. This advances the goal of socialism, obviously, but the goal of that is to make the world a place where it is comfortable to be a nihilist. Which is what increasing numbers of people are.

If you believe in nothing but yourself, you are in a perilous position —your "self" is a bloodthirsty god. You will not want to think about the implications. Unconsciously your every decision will tend towards not thinking clearly about your situation. So, you will tend to eliminate anything that points to or symbolizes belief in things higher than the self. You will hate the the Pope, the Church, America, Israel, Jews, and Sarah Palin.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:02 AM

July 5, 2010

Good book on Lincoln...

I'm reading a book I very much recommend, Lincoln at Peoria, by Louis E. Lehrman.

This section reminded me of exactly what I hate about the Civil Rights Movement. That is, that it was an orgy of self-righteousness and smugness and the insidious pleasure of feeling superior to other people. And that that has been the template for almost all leftist agitation ever since. We see today exactly the same attitude in the promoters of same-sex "marriage." Anyone who opposes them is a bigot, and deserves no respect. Likewise with those notable "civil rights" campaigns protecting our ancient hallowed right to kill unborn babies, or for women to behave like the worst men, or the right of the state to force people to build handicapped access stuff, regardless of need or expense.

...At Peoria, Lincoln remarked that though he hated slavery, he would not condemn the slaveholders of the South. He held both North and South to be complicit in America's peculiar institution and therefore did not speak of the South with the contempt that characterized many abolitionists and other anti-slavery politicians. Lincoln rarely affected a patronizing superiority. In his first major, recorded speech of the 1854 campaign—The Bloomington Pantagraph reported that Lincoln "declared that the Southern slaveholders were neither better or worse than we of the North, and that we of the North were no better than they. If we were situated as they are, we should act no better than they..." (page 241)

Posted by John Weidner at 6:00 PM

July 3, 2010

Atheists in church? Too cool...

From an exceedingly interesting piece (to me at least), Elaine Howard Ecklund, Ph.D.: What Scientists Think About Religion:

...Almost a quarter of Americans think scientists are hostile to religion. But what do we really know about how scientists think about morality, spirituality and faith?

From 2005 to 2008, I surveyed nearly 1,700 natural and social scientists on their views about religion, spirituality and ethics and spoke with 275 of them in depth in their offices and laboratories. It turns out that nearly 50 percent of scientists identify with a religious label, and nearly one in five is actively involved in a house of worship, attending services more than once a month. While many scientists are completely secular, my survey results show that elite scientists are also sitting in the pews of our nation's churches, temples and mosques.

Of the atheist and agnostic scientists I had in-depth conversations with, more than 30 percent considered themselves atheists; however, less than six percent of these were actively working against religion. Many atheist and agnostic scientists even think key mysteries about the world can be best understood spiritually, and some attend houses of worship, completely comfortable with religion as moral training for their children and an alternative form of community. If religious people better understood the full range of atheistic practice -- and the way that it interfaces with religion for some -- they might be less likely to hold negative attitudes toward nonreligious scientists. The truth is that many atheist scientists have no desire to denigrate religion or religious people....

Fascinatin'. Among many reasons, because I've often thought about my Catholic faith, that scientists should dig this stuff. Christianity is actually very scientific, in the broader sense of the word. (and I'm myself very much scientific, in all senses of the word, and my reaction to discovering the Church Catholic was, like, wow. So cool!

The immense prestige of the natural sciences caused people in the 19th Century to start applying the word "science" only to the study of the natural realm. But actually science means, by my dictionary, "a systematically organized body of knowledge on a particular subject : the science of criminology." Myself, I'd define the word science as "disciplined truth-seeking within a particular field of knowledge." One could be a scientific pasty cook.

I noticed especially the line about atheist scientists being "comfortable with religion as moral training for their children," because commenter AOG mentioned that he was doing much the same thing. And he's a respect-worthy thinker. I'd say that AOG's on the right track, but not yet thinking things through clearly. A great scientist named Blaise Pascal pinned all this question down about 350 years ago. (Link, link.)

One of his points was that God can not be discerned by the senses. There's never going to be "scientific evidence" for the existence of God. A fact he regretted as much as we do. But, there is another instrument we can use, and that is the heart. (Not the pump in your chest, of course, but an inbuilt faculty we have for perceiving things in the realm of God.) And you calibrate the instrument... how? By not being hard-hearted. As the operator's manual says, "If today you hear his voice, harden not your heart."

If there is a Creator God, then the realm of God is the larger context which contains the natural realm which is the study of the natural scientist. So the scientist, if he is an intellectually bold chap, ought to be delighted to expand his horizons into a larger sphere. Especially since the Judeo-Christian God (at least in the Catholic view; I can't vouch for Protestant deviants) is the source of that lawfulness of creation upon which natural science is based.

Alas, there's that problem of hardness of heart.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:45 PM

July 2, 2010

Charlene's calling the Gulf an impeachable offense...

I'd say probably yes. Won't happen, but it's nice to think about...

She especially recommends this post by Gateway Pundit...

It’s Day 73 of the Gulf Oil Spill Disaster–
There is now clear evidence that the negligence by the Obama Administration caused the destruction of the Gulf coastline.

** The feds only accepted assistance from 5 of 28 countries.
** It took the Obama Administration 53 days to accept help from the Dutch and British.
** It took them 58 days to mobilize the US military to the Gulf.
** The feds shut down crude-sucking barges due to fire extinguisher concerns.
** The Obama Administration ignore oil boom manufacturers that have miles of product stockpiled in their warehouses.
** They only have moved 31 of 2,000 oil skimmers to the disaster area off of Florida.
** Florida hired an additional 5 skimmer boats to operate off its coast due to federal inaction.
** There are no skimmer boats off the coast of Mississippi.
** The massive A-Boat skimmer won't be allowed to join the cleanup effort until the Coast Guard and the EPA figure out whether it meets their standards.
** The feds shut down sand berm dredging off the Louisiana coast.
** The president continues to hit the golf course, ball games, hold BBQ’s and party while the crude oil washes up on shore.

Now there’s this… Obama Administration lied about cleanup efforts of Gulf oil spill.
CNS News reported:

Billy Nungesser, president of New Orleans' Plaquemines Parish, sensed that a chart showing 140 oil skimmers at work — a chart given to him by BP and the Coast Guard — was "somewhat inaccurate." So, Nungesser asked to fly over the spill to verify the number.

The flyover was cancelled three times before those officials admitted that just 31 of the 140 skimmers were actually deployed.

The incident is detailed in a report released Thursday by Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Republicans say the report provides evidence that the Obama administration misrepresented the assets devoted to the cleanup, misrepresented the timing of when government officials knew there was an oil spill and misrepresented the level of control the government had over the matter. It also claims the Obama administration seemed more interested in public relations than cleaning the mess and plugging the hole.

The report, which relies on interviews with several local officials in Louisiana, goes on to quote Nungesser, who had been on local and national television enough so that the White House became concerned. Two White House officials visited him on Father's Day and said, "What do we have to do to keep you off TV?" His answer was, "Give me what I need."

You could add lax supervision of BP, which just happened to give more donations to Obama that to any other politician. And the lies about the engineers report to justify shutting down drilling in the Gulf, which will kill about 120,000 jobs. And threatening criminal prosecutions to the very BP people who are tasked with fixing the problem. (sort of like threatening a surgeon during an operation.)

Any other suggestions?

Posted by John Weidner at 7:56 PM

Multa novit vulpes, verum echinus unum magnum...

[This is something I posted back in 2003. You could plug it into 2010 without much difficulty. The title is Erasmus's latin for "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." ]

What thou lov'st well remains, the rest is dross
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee ...
    — Ezra Pound

Orrin Judd recently wrote...

..It is often thought that ideology makes people inflexible, unable to face new situations they've not thought about before. In fact, given how seldom a situation truly is new, a well thought through set of ideas will serve in any circumstance that arises and so may give such folk--Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and George W. Bush are the paramount recent examples--a suppleness that those whose minds function in a more ad hoc way will lack. The latter--men like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton--may be paralyzed into inaction, because they have to analyze things afresh and then worry over whether they've come up with the right decision. It is the difference that Isaiah Berlin wrote about in his famous essay, The Hedgehog and the Fox.

Conservatives tend to be people who find the past appealing, thrilling, alive. You might think that would make them uncomfortable dealing with the future, but just the opposite is true. The things you love you will absorb, they will soak in, they will become part of you without the need for laborious study. And if you absorb, for example, things like the story of Gideon, you may be more ready for life's crises than the theorist who has read a hundred books...And if you absorb histories of Sam Houston or Lord Fairfax or Abigail Adams or Epaminondas, you will not be alone when the crisis comes...

I suspect our country has flourished partly because, at times of testing, hedgehogs often appear. (And if you find the accusations of stupidity heaped on Bush by the foxes to be a bit much, go back and read what they said about Lincoln. Or Jackson, or Truman...)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:53 AM