September 30, 2011

I'm looking forward to seeing conservatives driving Volvos, with Palin stickers...

It's surprising—and very pleasing—how often one hears these days of wisdom coming from odd corners of the planet. It gives me a sort of "world turned upside down" feeling. My belief is that the US will catch up, once the zombie corpse collectivism currently stomping about here has toppled into the dust. Say, maybe, around January 20, 2013. If there's hope for the Swedes, there's hope for us!

(In honesty, I don't really think there's long-term hope for Sweden, because Sweden has no purpose. No higher cause, no dream, no ennobling philosophy. No vocation. You can't go very far on a dream of just muddling through without too many problems.)

The American Spectator : Free Market Sweden, Social Democratic America:

...Facing severe economic stagnation, Sweden began implementing several rather un-social democratic measures in the early 1990s. This included curtaining its public sector deficit and reducing marginal tax-rates and levels of state ownership. Another change involved allowing private retirement schemes, a development that was accompanied by the state contributing less to pensions.

These reforms, however, proved insufficient. In the early 2000s, according to James Bartholomew, author of the best-selling The Welfare State We're In (2006), more than one in five Swedes of working-age was receiving some type of benefit. Over 20 percent of the same demographic of Swedes was effectively working "off-the-books" or less than they preferred. Sweden's tax structure even made it financially advantageous for many to stay on the dole instead of getting a job.

But with a non-Social Democrat coalition government's election in 2006, Sweden's reform agenda resumed. On the revenue side, property taxes were scaled back. Income-tax credits allowing larger numbers of middle and lower-income people to keep more of their incomes were introduced.

To be fair, the path to tax reform was paved here by the Social Democrats. In 2005, they simply abolished -- yes, that's right, abolished -- inheritance taxes.
But liberalization wasn't limited to taxation. Sweden's new government accelerated privatizations of once-state owned businesses. It also permitted private providers to enter the healthcare market, thereby introducing competition into what had been one of the world's most socialized medical systems. Industries such as taxis and trains were deregulated. State education and electricity monopolies were ended by the introduction of private competition. Even Swedish agricultural prices are now determined by the market. Finally, unemployment benefits were reformed so that the longer most people stayed on benefits, the less they received.

So what were the effects of all these changes? The story is to be found in the numbers. Unemployment levels fell dramatically from the 10 percent figure of the mid-1990s. Budget-wise, Sweden started running surpluses instead of deficits. The country's gross public debt declined from a 1994 figure of 78 percent to 35 percent in 2010. Sweden also weathered the Great Recession far better than most other EU states. Sweden's 2010 growth-rate was 5.5 percent. By comparison, America's was 2.7 percent.

Of course Sweden's story is far from perfect. Approximately, one-third of working Swedes today are civil servants. Some of the benefits of tax reform have been blunted by Sweden's embrace of carbon taxes since the early 1990s. That partly reflects the extent to which many Swedes are in thrall to contemporary Western Europe's fastest growing religion -- environmentalism.

High unemployment also persists among immigrants and young Swedes (25.9 percent amongst 15-25 year olds). This owes much, Bartholomew observes, to "the high minimum wage imposed on the various industries by the still-powerful unions. Those who cannot command a good wage are not allowed to work for a lower one." On the income side, average Swedish wage-earners in 2009 still took home less than 50 percent of what they cost their employer. The equivalent figure for Britain was 67 percent....
Posted by John Weidner at 9:11 PM | Comments (0)

September 27, 2011

Schadenfreude strikes deep. Into your life it will creep...

snowy bear

I hope candidate Palin acknowledges that Obama has accomplished one good thing...

Planet Healer Obama Calls It: In 2008, he declared his presidency would result in 'the rise of the oceans beginning to slow' -- And By 2011, Sea Level Drops! | Climate Depot:

...President Barack Obama can take a bow. As Obama struggles with poor polling numbers, persistent high unemployment, the possibly of a primary challenge within his own party and a stagnant economy saddled with massive deficits and debts, one area where he can claim success is his prediction that he would slow sea level rise.

Obama -- in similar fashion to baseball legend Babe Ruth calling his home run during the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series -- called it successfully on sea level rise.

Obama declared in a June 8, 2008 speech, that his presidency will be "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal." Obama's prognostication occurred during his victory speech in St. Paul for the Democratic Party nomination.

Climate Depot can now announce it is official. Earlier this month, the European Space Agency's Envisat monitoring, global sea level revealed a "two year long decline [in sea level] was continuing, at a rate of 5mm per year."

In August 2011, NASA announced that global sea level was dropping and was "a quarter of an inch lower than last summer." See: NASA: 'Global sea level this summer is a quarter of an inch lower than last summer'...

To see the AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) hoax unravelling is sweet sweet sweet. Alas none of the lefties will re-think. Al Gore will flip, from one day to the next, to warning about the apocalyptic dangers of Global Cooling, and all the little Chumskys will all flip with him. And all condemn those wicked capitalists and Republicans who are failing to pump enough Carbon into the atmosphere...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:15 PM | Comments (6)

September 26, 2011

Those dwarfs are just marking time. This opera doesn't start 'till Snow White sings...

Star Parker, Why the presidential debates aren't serious | -- Washington Examiner:

The presidential debates are looking more like symptoms of our problems than they do like part of the solution.

Maximum style, minimum substance. Focus on sizzle, forget about the steak.

These events are supposed to be about quality information, raising the bar, and producing a thoughtful, informed electorate. But they are being produced to provide entertainment, and we are barely getting that.

Technology doesn't take the place of substance. YouTube and real-time polling are not substitutes for thoughtful, provocative questioning.

Can it really be, after all the heat he has taken on Social Security, that Rick Perry was not pushed on how specifically how he would reform it?

Can it be, as expert after expert has laid out the long list of failures of Romneycare in Massachusetts and its unquestionable similarities to Obamacare, that Mitt Romney was not called out on his sidestepping and denials?

Can it be that, on a day where the stock market in our country dropped 3.5 percent and in China by 5 percent, that candidates were not asked what they think is wrong with the global economy?

Can it be that, when many experts agree that government meddling in housing and mortgages was central to the recent financial collapse, there has not been a single question on why Fannie and Freddie are still standing, propped up by government, and untouched?...

Sara Palin with dead caribou

Posted by John Weidner at 6:04 PM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2011

Momentum...

There are times I look around at my fellow American Catholics, and think, "Nah, give it up, guy. We're toast." But the crazy flawed contraption that Jesus fudged-up has been sputtering long for 2k years, and you'd be hard-pressed to find any other institutions that last more than 200 or maybe 300 years. so I'll stick with what works, and let other people go in for "experimental art."

...There Is not, and there never was on this earth, a work of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic Church. The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of human civilization. No other institution is left standing which carries the mind back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, and when lions and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheater. The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. The republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of life and useful vigor.

The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustin, and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila. The number of her children is greater than in any former age. Her acquisitions in the New World have more than compensated for what she has lost in the old. Her spiritual ascendancy extends over the vast countries which lie between the plains of the Missouri and Cape Horn, countries which a century hence, may not improbably contain a population as large as that which now inhabits Europe. The members of her communion are certainly not fewer than a hundred and fifty millions; and it will be difficult to show that all other Christian sects united amount to a hundred and twenty millions. Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the governments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished in the temple of Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigor when some traveler from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Pauls....

      --- Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1840

I put in this picture of the great Pope Leo XIII just for fun, because I just learned today that Pope Benedict wore a stole belonging to Leo when he visited Westminster Abbey. (Check it out here.) This is hilarious (and of course is a serious bit of honesty and clarity) because it was Leo who settled a big question by declaring that Anglican Orders were invalid. And also it was he who made Newman a Cardinal.

So, *ahem*, atheists! We got jokes that play out over the course of centuries. What do you got?


Posted by John Weidner at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2011

How to prevent people from thinking about your product...

This is something that just totally bugs me. The epic STUPIDITY of giving products awkward names that are hard to remember or use. A few years ago we were looking at cars, and we looked at a CRV and an RAV and an MDX!. All of which started to blur together in my mind almost immediately. (We bought a 2001 Honda CRV, which we love! Recommended.)

Or go to amazon.com and look at digital cameras. You see names like Samsung EC-ST65, or Casio EX-S200SR. STUPID. How long are those names going to stick in your head? Probably the people who own those cameras don't remember their names.

But this new phone truly takes the prize. (I'm not knocking the product, just the name. It sounds like a pretty cool machine. I wish my iPhone had such a big screen.)

Sprint Epic 4G Touch review — Android Central:

...It's time to add fast to those superlatives. OK, how about faster. That's really the bottom line with the Samsung Galaxy S II, Sprint Epic 4G Touch. That's its entire, official name, punctuation and all, depending on who you ask. It's a little ridiculous, to be sure. But a big, fast phone perhaps deserves a bombastic name.

The SGSIISE4GT, which is how we're abbreviating it at least one time, is the first version of Samsung's Galaxy S II to be released in the United States....

What was the very first thing Steve Jobs did when he returned to Apple? He simplified the product line, and simplified the names. I remember scratching my head over choices like Performa 5300 and Performa 5400 and Performa 6300. Bigger numbers did not mean newer or more powerful, so it was perplexing. And frustrating.

Jobs slashed the Mac line to just four things. One each consumer and pro desktops, and consumer and pro laptops. (The laptops were called iBooks and PowerBooks, two all-time great names.)

You would think other companies would learn this trick, wouldn't you?

"Samsung Galaxy S II, Sprint Epic 4G Touch." A name to conjure with! A sexy name. A name that rings like a bell. A name that stirs our deep subconscious longings for romance and poetry and adventure...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:55 PM | Comments (2)

Styles, fashions, body language... We give ourselves away

Andrea writes:

I have only one thing to say about this Elizabeth Warren person: for God's sakes woman will you do something about your hair? That flattened thing with the part in the middle and that inane flip at the bottom looks good on no one above the age of twelve. You look like a female Emo Phillips. You look like you can't bear to cut your hair completely short because deep in your hind-brain there's a little voice telling you that women with short hair look like dykes. Let me give you some advice: women of a certain age should cut their hair short. No one will think you're a lesbian — they'll think you're a mature woman who has accepted her age. Middle-aged women who cling to little-girl hair fashions make other people uneasy. They sense — and rightly — that they're having a little problem coming to terms with reality. No "compassionate" liberal who is currently drooling over your bland and unoriginal pronouncements because it echoes what they believe will tell you any of this, and you work no doubt among other females in your academic milieu who are just as delusional as you are, which is why you've been allowed to go through life with no one pulling you aside and saying "Honey, I need to tell you something." Fortunately for you, I'm here to help. Cut your hair.

I was going to pummel Warren's snippet of thought, then a whole bunch of people beat me to it. But since I'm *ahem* here at the topic... There are two things obviously wrong with what she said. One, it's a straw man argument. Nobody's objecting to taxes to pay for roads or police or national defense. We conservatives are objecting to government growing into an all-consuming monster that tries to control every aspect of our lives. (And destroy souls; that's the underlying plot.)

The other thing is, yes it's true that the factory depends on things like rule of law, and roads, and fire departments... But, those governmenty things are also all dependent on the factory. None of them would exist without the wealth and technology produced by the private economic sector. You might say it's a chicken/egg question. Well, the theory that underlies our country is that the people came first, and then formed a government to serve them. If what Warren is saying, or rather sort of just assuming, has become our principle, then in a real way America no longer exists. My answer is government should be the servant, not the master.

(The "theory" of the typical European state is exactly the opposite. The state came first—maybe growing out of some Medieval kingdom—and it then allowed allowed the people various rights and privileges, which it can take away.)

But I think Andrea's point is the gravamen. "Middle-aged women who cling to little-girl hair fashions make other people uneasy." We do, and I suspect we feel uneasy for deep and important symbolic reasons. Something is more wrong here than just bad fashion sense. This woman is a major figure in the government of the most powerful nation in history, and she is running for the dignity of the US Senate. And yet she is giving off "I don't want to grow up" vibrations. Something's very off.

* Update: I also suspect that this is a painful example of how our academic institutions have decayed. The poor girl may have become a full "professor" at Harvard without ever having a stiff argument with a conservative colleague--because none are allowed in. (This is called "Academic Freedom," as in freedom to not think.)

Posted by John Weidner at 10:48 AM | Comments (1)

Scientific revolutions... mockery is the best remedy

"We don’t allow faster-than-light neutrinos in here," said the bartender.

A neutrino walks into a bar.

(From Michael Potemra , at The Corner)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:33 AM | Comments (1)

September 22, 2011

I have to agree with Mr Drum on this one...

The Great $16 Muffin Myth | Mother Jones:

...So did DOJ really pay $16 for muffins? Of course not. In fact, it's obvious that someone quite carefully calculated the amount they were allowed to spend and then gave the hotel a budget. The hotel agreed, but for some reason decided to divide up the charges into just a few categories instead of writing a detailed invoice for every single piece of food they provided. 

This is unremarkable. In fact, I'm here to tell you that this happens All. The. Time. I've been involved in what feels like a thousand conferences of this kind, and I'd be shocked if it happened any other way. Hell, I'm surprised DOJ even got that much of a breakdown. Far more commonly, your event person negotiates what kind of refreshments you'll get, and the invoice ends up looking something like this:

Refreshment table (bev/morn/aft) — 5 days....................$39,500...

Yeah. I never go to conferences, but I know enough to know how it works. If you ask the hotel to provide refreshments, they don't just bring out a bowl of muffins. There's a sort of buffet, with coffee and tea and OJ and cream cheese and fruit and cookies and bagels... etc etc. And there's at least one staff person refilling the coffee urns. And extra work done in the kitchen putting it together. And people have to clean up the mess. And supervisors drop in to check up, and also spend time talking to the conference organizers. And you are using hotel equipment, the cost of which you are partly paying.

That's all paid for in the "cost of refreshments."

Posted by John Weidner at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

You are what you DO

Charlene recommends this piece by Richard Fernandez, Bayes and Nice People:

...Peretz, Brooks, and Noonan are intelligent, well-educated people. Nobody has seriously suggested they are either perverse or evil. Now they see the truth. But once upon a time they didn’t have a clue. So the disturbing question is: how did they get it wrong? Setting aside for a moment the fact that someone slipped past, the most pressing problem is to determine why the system failed. Because as someone at Andrew Klavan’s blog said, “the republic can survive a Barack Obama; it is far less likely to survive the multitude of fools who made him president.”

The fact they are now getting it right is a good thing. John Maynard Keynes once wrote, “when the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, sir?”  But Keynes was not not quite correct.  What he should have said was that “when new information comes to light, I change my opinion about what I saw. What do you do, sir?”

The first person to rigorously understand how this process worked was Thomas Bayes....

Fernandez thinks that people like Brooks were fooled by Obama, and Edwards, because they are "nice" people who don't come into contact with con-men and sharps. That's probably a lot of it. Charlene, for instance, deals with plaintiff's lawyers every day. She was totally not taken in by that slime-animal Edwards. She's seen those pretty boys a thousand times.

I was armored against the wiles of Obama in various other ways. One of them is the old battles I had concerning President Bush. So much of what was said about him was simply stupid, and I kept butting my head against the wall trying to explain it. The principle is very simple. You are what you DO. Not what you say, or hope, or aspire to, or dress like. (Bush, for instance, acted as president almost exactly as he did as governor of Texas. And his Texas business life was much of a piece with that. So the people who said that he was a preppy Ivy-Leaguer type were being brain-dead stupid.)

My dad, who was a very smart guy about life and people, once said to me when I was young, "By the time a man is 40, he is where he wants to be in life." It seemed like an odd and severe judgement to me at the time, but I haven't encountered any exceptions.

I remember telling people, "Obama has never accomplished anything. He's not going to change at his age." I was right.

I'll give you my piece of sage advice—take it, you're welcome, no extra charge—which I took from NRO's Jay Nordlinger: "You pretty much know all you need to know about a person if you know their positions on abortion and Israel."

Oh, and here's another guy who was right...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:12 AM | Comments (4)

September 21, 2011

Why bother?

Evelyn Gordon, What Incentive Does Netanyahu Have to Make More Concessions?-- Commentary Magazine:

Yesterday, I asked why Israel should keep signing agreements with the Palestinians if the world won't enforce previous ones? This question has an important corollary: Why should Israel keep making concessions if it gets no credit for previous ones?

A recent New York Times editorial demonstrates the problem in microcosm. While various parties share blame for the Israeli-Palestinian impasse, it opined, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "has been the most intractable, building settlements and blaming his inability to be more forthcoming on his conservative coalition."

In reality, Netanyahu is the only prime minister in Israel's history to impose a 10-month moratorium on settlement construction, a move even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared "unprecedented." Indeed, there has been less construction in the West Bank – and East Jerusalem – during his term than under his predecessors. But he gets no credit for this; instead, he's the premier who obstructs peace by "building settlements." So what incentive would he have to make further such gestures?

As for being insufficiently "forthcoming," Netanyahu, like all his predecessors, has repeatedly expressed willingness to cede most of the West Bank; what he's refused to do is cede the entire territory in advance. By contrast, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hasn't yet agreed to cede anything Israel wants (settlement blocs, the "right of return," recognition as a Jewish state, etc.), but the Times omits him entirely from its list of parties who share the blame. So Netanyahu, who has already ceded most of the West Bank, is "intractable," but Abbas, who has ceded nothing, is blame-free. Given this, what incentive does Netanyahu have to make further concessions?...

"from its list of parties who share the blame." Well, that's easy to explain. The Times does not consider Palestinians to be human beings, so they cannot be expected to be rational or moral actors. They are just trained animals in the nihilist circus, they exist only to express Jew-hatred.

Do you consider this extreme? Well, think about it. Suppose you cared about someone. And they were committing acts of extreme immorality and violence. Would you not strive to persuade them to act differently? For their own good? Would you not be screaming "Stop!"?

Then suppose you did NOT care about this person. You might be blithely indifferent when this someone, say... oh, blows up pizza parlors where families with little children are having parties. That's exactly the NYT and the "liberals" who read it.

If western "liberals" actually cared about the Palestinians, they would have been leaning on them to the advantage of Netanyahu's 10-month freeze on settlement construction, begging them to make some concessions of their own, in search of peace. But the sort of people who are always joining "peace" movements and "anti-war" movements have not the slightest interest in peace in Israel.

Friend of Israel emblem

Posted by John Weidner at 8:00 AM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2011

Blog update....

I've (very belatedly) updated my Movable Type blogging software to the latest version. Or rather, the job's been done for me by Ed Burns of blogrescue.com I recommend his services!

One frustration is that my old version was so far behind that comment spammers seem to have mostly given up on targeting it. My new install was instantly attacked. It has more spam-fighting tools included, which I'm starting to learn how to use. Hopefully I'll end up on top, but expect a lot of rubbish in the comments for a while.

"Nemo Me Impune Lacesset" (No one wounds me with impunity)

Posted by John Weidner at 10:36 AM

September 18, 2011

Book recommendation; best we've read this year...

Lightning strike at Edwards AFB

Charlene and I are both reading How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too), by David P. Goldman (who is the columnist called "Spengler.") It is really really good. And scary.

Even we, who have been following demographic news, and have read America Alone, by Mark Steyn, are flabbergasted by Goldman's stats on the many many countries in demographic (and spiritual) collapse. I've heard many times, for instance, that Palestinian birthrates are going to swamp Israeli Jews. Not true; the rates are now about the same, with Jewish Israelis still rising, and Palestinian rates still falling. (With current trends, by the end of this century Israel will have more men of military age than Germany!)

The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Goldman, which will give you a bit of the flavor of the book. But the book is about far more than Islam's problems...

Spengler -- Erdogan Has Good Reason To Be Crazy ..

...The New York Times' Thomas Friedman blames Israel for not apologizing to the Turks. But one doesn't want to apologize to Erdogan. You don't want to talk to him. Don't make eye contact. We New Yorkers learn that on the subway. It seems mad to take on Washington, Brussels, Moscow, as well as Jerusalem, all in the same week. What is driving the Turkish prime minister round the twist?

The Arab world is in free fall. Leave aside Syria, whose regime continues to massacre its own people, and miserable Yemen, and post-civil war Libya. Egypt is dying. Erdogan's "triumphal" appearance in Egypt served as a welcome distraction to Egyptians — welcome, because what they think about most of the time is disheartening. What's on the mind of the Egyptian people these days? According to the Arab-language local media, it's finding enough calories to get through the day.

Egypt imports half its caloric consumption, the price of its staple wheat remains at an all-time high, and most Egyptians can't afford to buy it. The government subsidizes bread, but according to the Egyptian news site Youm7 ("The Seventh Day"), the country now faces "an escalating crisis in subsidized flour." Packages of subsidized flour are not reaching the intended recipients, in part because the Solidarity Ministry hasn't provided the promised shipments to stores, and in part because subsidized flour and bread are diverted to the black market. A small loaf of government-issue bread costs 5 piasters, or less than one U.S. cent, but it can't be found in many areas, as the Solidarity Ministry, provincial government, and bakers trade accusations of responsibility for supply problems. Poor Egyptians get ration cards, but flour often is not available to card-holders. Rice, a substitute for wheat, also is in short supply, and the price has risen recently to 5.5 Egyptian pounds per kilo from 3.75 pounds.

Most Egyptians barely eat enough to keep body and soul together, and many are hungry. That is about to get much, much worse: The country is short about $20 billion a year. The central bank reports that the country's current account deficit in the fiscal year ended July 1 swung from a $3.4 billion surplus in the fiscal year ended July 2010 to a deficit of $9.2 billion in the fiscal year ended July 2011. Almost all of the shift into red ink occurred since February, suggesting an annualized deficit of around $20 billion. Egypt's reserves fell about $11 billion since the uprising began in February. Who's going to cough up that kind of money? Not Turkey, whose own balance-of-payment deficit stands at 11% of GDP and whose currency is collapsing, as shown in the chart below:

Not the U.S. Congress, for that matter, nor the hard-pressed Europeans, who have their own problems, nor the Saudis, who can be counted on for a few billion here and there, but not $20 billion a year. I reiterate: Egypt will make Somalia look like a picnic.

It doesn't occur to liberals that there are problems for which solutions might not exist; the notion that cultures and countries may suffer from tragic flaws does not enter into consideration, because if that were true, there would be no need for liberals. That is why Friedman, the bellwether of liberal opinion, sounds stupider than anyone else when he describes Israel as "alone and adrift at sea." If only Netanyahu had offered his own peace plan, complains Friedman...to Hamas? A news analysis in the Times meanwhile reports the Obama administration's consternation that every pillar of its foreign policy is crumbling at once.

If the Obama administration and the New York Times are pulling their hair out over the disintegration of Arab society, consider how Tayyip Erdogan must feel. His economic boom is about to come to a crashing end, and his country is doomed demographically to split up when Kurds outnumber Turks not long from now, as I argued here recently. And his ambitions for Turkish hegemony in the Muslim world have run directly into an existential crisis that is long past solution. That would make anyone crazy. Don't think of the Turkish leader as an outpatient who lost his meds. In the spirit of political correctness, we might call him "existentially challenged. "...
Posted by John Weidner at 8:06 PM

"The most childlike thing about a child..."

GKC:

The devil can quote Scripture for his purpose; and the text of Scripture which he now most commonly quotes is, 'The kingdom of heaven is within you.' That text has been the stay and support of more Pharisees and prigs and self-righteous spiritual bullies than all the dogmas in creation; it has served to identify self-satisfaction with the peace that passes all understanding.

And the text to be quoted in answer to it is that which declares that no man can receive the kingdom except as a little child. What we are to have inside is the childlike spirit; but the childlike spirit is not entirely concerned about what is inside. It is the first mark of possessing it that one is interested in what is outside. The most childlike thing about a child is his curiosity and his appetite and his power of wonder at the world. We might almost say that the whole advantage of having the kingdom within is that we look for it somewhere else.
--- What I Saw in America (1922).

(Borrowed from The Hebdomadal Chesterton)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:27 PM

September 16, 2011

Well, Valhalla is a fit home for warriors...

Charlene was thinking that one of these Hand Carved Viking Style Drinking Horns might perhaps be a Christmas present for one of our sons, who's interested in Nordic stuff. There is, however, a very curious delay mentioned on the web site....

...ATTENTION: Custom orders will be closed through October 15th, 2011 due to a large order for the Navy SEALs.

Please email me at CustomDrinkingHorns@gmail.com to be notified when custom orders re-open or placed on the waiting list for an order....
Posted by John Weidner at 7:58 PM

Judenrein--You watch, it will perfectably acceptable for our fake liberals.

PLO Ambassador: No Jews in New Palestinian State -- Commentary Magazine:

According to this report in USA Today, the Palestine Liberation Organization's representative in Washington has declared there will be no place in any future Palestinian state for Jews. There are several ironies.

Turkey and perhaps European countries as well are maybe on the verge of recognizing the first state since Nazi Germany to propose a judenrein policy. There are several ironies: First, Israel, whose Arab Christian and Muslim minorities—perhaps 20 percent of the population—have full rights, but is lambasted by the cocktail set as racist. Second, when the Netanyahu government proposed recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, many diplomats—including those in the State Department—balked. But to propose a Jew-free state? That's okay.

Yes it will be perfectly acceptable with our "liberals" and academics and journalists. Likewise, our "pacifists" and fake-Quakers never object when Palestinians teach kindergarten children to be suicide bombers.

Why? Because the Palestinians are fulfilling the secret desires of most of the Left (and a few on the Right). It's no longer fashionable to be openly anti-Semitic, but Jew hatred is just as common as it was in the 1930's. The difference is that now we pay the Palestinians to be our proxy Jew killers. The US, for instance, pays them 600 million dollars a year, in "foreign aid."

Jew-hatred is part of the thinking of losers. If you are going nowhere, you turn to hating the Jews. This is because the people who are going somewhere, who have a future, always believe that there are things in life more important than they are. Jews symbolize our duty to God. And this duty is echoed in many lesser symbols, all of which involve belief in something higher and more important than our little selves.

Therefor the person who has a servant heart towards one of the lesser symbols, such as loving country or family or truth, is, on a deep level, serving God. And the weird paradoxical thing is, those people are the ones who tend to become stronger, and bolder, and who grow towards the future. ey have a future. They are not losers." (I think of the word in the American slang sense, such as, "I hope she doesn't marry that guy. He's such a loser.)

Whereas the people who sign on to one of the human-centered philosophies, one of the men-will-be-like-gods confections... those people shrink! We see it all around us, if we we dare to open our eyes. For instance our mad unending proliferation of safety regulations--a left-liberal obsession.. That's not what people do when they are feeling Promethean! It's what you do when you are afraid. Same with obsessing over clean water and clean air. San Francisco has delightful tap water, brought direct from the high Sierras, near Yosemite. But lots of people have water filters and we spend millions on bottled water.

That's fear. and it's very reminiscent of that guy in the movie Dr Strangelove, who though fluoridated water was contaminating his "precious bodily fluids." (Anti-flouridation, by the way, is no longer a right-wing issue, it's now a lefty fad.)

It's exactly like what I posted about Inertial Navigation. The submarine trying, for some crazy reason, to cross the Pacific underwater without ever using landmarks may start out with a brave flourish and feelings of self-sufficient power. But errors accumulate, and by the time it gets near the other side, the main feeling will be fear. And if there is some person who symbolizes submission to things outside the system (imagine a navigator walking around with a sextant in his hand) that chap may well be hated!

Friend of Israel emblem

Posted by John Weidner at 7:49 PM

September 13, 2011

Like the dog in the night...

I was writing a lonnng 9/11 post, starting from that disgusting column by Paul Krugman. But I realized I was just starting to re-fight all the warblogging campaigns of my 10 years of Random Jottings. I don't need to do that, events have not shown me to be wrong. And, as Professor Jacobson pointed out, Krugman is lashing out because his faith is shaken.

Though it might seem so, right now we are not in an argument between two Twentieth Century models of life and government, conservative and liberal. Why? Because Krugman's model has already died. It's a zombie-corpse staggering a few last steps before toppling in the dust. The Obama administration is just a last efflorescence of phosphorescent bacteria.

So instead, here's a small interesting item, also from Jacobson...

The American people can handle the truth about Obama's phony jobs bill:

There is a good reason Obama did not unveil his jobs bill prior to his jobs speech.

It's because the jobs bill is not a jobs bill, it is the tax increase Obama has been hoping for since he was a candidate, taking $400 billion from people making $200,000 or more (couples making $250,000 or more). Had Obama released the plan, all the talk surrounding the speech would have been about the tax increase, the opposite of what the Axelplouffe message machine wanted.

What Obama misleadingly calls a jobs bill literally takes $400 billion from the demonized "top 2%" over 10 years to give to almost everyone else now, a pure redistributionist plan. There is some revenue taken from oil companies and corporate jet owners (yes, that's in there), but that is just political cover, a relatively small percentage of the total tax increase, as this chart shows...
Posted by John Weidner at 7:30 AM

September 11, 2011

"But when they march before Him, God's welcome will be kind"

THE CONNAUGHT RANGERS

I SAW the Connaught Rangers when they were passing by,
On a spring day, a good day, with gold rifts in the sky.
Themselves were marching steadily along the Liffey quay
An' I see the young proud look of them as if it were to-day!
The bright lads, the right lads, I have them in my mind,
With the green flags on their bayonets all fluttering in the wind.

A last look at old Ireland, a last good-bye maybe,
Then the gray sea, the wide sea, my grief upon the sea!
And when will they come home, says I, when will they see once more
The dear blue hills of Wicklow and Wexford's dim gray shore?
The brave lads of Ireland, no better lads you'll find,
With the green flags on their bayonets all fluttering in the wind!

Three years have passed since that spring day, sad years for them and me.
Green graves there are in Serbia and in Gallipoli.
And many who went by that day along the muddy street
Will never hear the roadway ring to their triumphant feet.
But when they march before Him, God's welcome will be kind,
And the green flags on their bayonets will flutter in the wind.
    -- Winifred Letts
Posted by John Weidner at 10:28 PM

September 9, 2011

Well dog my cats!

Some of Sarah Palin's Ideas Cross the Political Divide - NYTimes.com:

An NYT liberal digging Sarah Palin! Can the apocalypse be long in coming? Well, perhaps this will give pause to those of you who think I'm a bit over-the-top in my admiration for this woman...

...So here is something I never thought I would write: a column about Sarah Palin's ideas.

There was plenty of the usual Palin schtick — words that make clear that she is not speaking to everyone but to a particular strain of American: "The working men and women of this country, you got up off your couch, you came down from the deer stand, you came out of the duck blind, you got off the John Deere, and we took to the streets, and we took to the town halls, and we ended up at the ballot box." [Actually, Mr Anand, in America we traditionally "identify" with farmers and workers. They are us. In fact, and this will astonish you, the Democrat Party, and liberals like you, used to identify with farmers and workers! Yes, it's true. You can look it up.]

But when her throat was cleared at last, Ms. Palin had something considerably more substantive to say.

She made three interlocking points. First, that the United States is now governed by a "permanent political class," drawn from both parties, that is increasingly cut off from the concerns of regular people. Second, that these Republicans and Democrats have allied with big business to mutual advantage to create what she called "corporate crony capitalism." Third, that the real political divide in the United States may no longer be between friends and foes of Big Government, but between friends and foes of vast, remote, unaccountable institutions (both public and private).

In supporting her first point, about the permanent political class, she attacked both parties' tendency to talk of spending cuts while spending more and more; to stoke public anxiety about a credit downgrade, but take a vacation anyway; to arrive in Washington of modest means and then somehow ride the gravy train to fabulous wealth. She observed that 7 of the 10 wealthiest counties in the United States happen to be suburbs of the nation's capital.

Her second point, about money in politics, helped to explain the first. The permanent class stays in power because it positions itself between two deep troughs: the money spent by the government and the money spent by big companies to secure decisions from government that help them make more money.

"Do you want to know why nothing ever really gets done?" she said, referring to politicians. "It's because there's nothing in it for them. They've got a lot of mouths to feed — a lot of corporate lobbyists and a lot of special interests that are counting on them to keep the good times and the money rolling along."

Because her party has agitated for the wholesale deregulation of money in politics and the unshackling of lobbyists, these will be heard in some quarters as sacrilegious words. [The "regulation" of money in politics currently is a fraud and a farce. For instance the NYT can tout candidates all it wants, but I can't run an ad for a candidate in the NYT right before the election, because that would be **ahem** "money corrupting politics." I doubt if it is possible to find an honest way of limiting money in politics, but I bet lots of Republicans would be for such a thing.]

Ms. Palin's third point was more striking still: in contrast to the sweeping paeans to capitalism and the free market delivered by the Republican presidential candidates whose ranks she has yet to join, she sought to make a distinction between good capitalists and bad ones. The good ones, in her telling, are those small businesses that take risks and sink and swim in the churning market; the bad ones are well-connected megacorporations that live off bailouts, dodge taxes and profit terrifically while creating no jobs.

Strangely, she was saying things that liberals might like, if not for Ms. Palin's having said them....

If liberals were still liberals, they very well might. In fact it was the mere suspicion that she might be thinking such thoughts that caused our fake-liberals (and lots of fake-Republicans) to try to destroy her before she can gain power.

What Sarah, and the Tea Parties, are expressing is actually an ancient Christian doctrine, called "Subsidiarity." Which can be pretty well boiled-down to the words on the bumper sticker on my car: "The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen."

It should also be mentioned, that this thinking has always been a Palin trademark, and for the NYT to just notice it now shows them to be morons. But you knew that.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:44 PM

September 7, 2011

Protest against "vanillafication of the planet"

Willis Eschenbach, Frozen Global Warming Research:

I liked this conclusion to an interesting piece...

... From some of the comments below, it's clear that�my eco-felony in writing this is admitting to feeling "schadenfreude", which means taking pleasure in your opponents misfortunes. It's one of those emotions that everyone has, but nobody is supposed to admit they have. What, you never laughed when irony overtook your opponent? And you gotta admit, global warming research cancelled because of too much ice? That's funny anywhere.

I'm no different than the rest in relishing life's ironic turns, except for the fact that I'm willing to admit that I'm not PC (politically correct) in the slightest, and to take the inevitable heat for saying so. Consider it my small protest at the ongoing vanillafication of the planet.

Well, I doubt if vanillafication can be halted, short of giant meteorite impacts. But I'll do what I can.

The actual article is about how the Swedes have been loaning us their giant icebreaker "Oden" during their summer, for use in supporting our research stations in the Antarctic. The problem is, too much ice in Sweden. They can't spare their icebreaker. So all those science johnnys studying global warming in the Antarctic are being frozen out. Ha ha. Schadenfreude warms my heart.

Well, it's the only cheer I have. Now we are begging the Russians for an icebreaker. Enjoy it, "liberals." You've humbled America, that's what you wanted.

RELATED, this is something that gives me maximum bitterness... Somebody once wrote that "Liberals want America weak and government strong." That pretty much sums it up. Read on about how the fake "scientists" of the NSF have destroyed our icebreaker fleet... God how I hate this kind of evil...

CHANGE OF PLANS. I'll make this a post of its own. It's the tiny tiny least morsel I can do, to express the furious anger that consumes me. A friend recently chided me, for not deploying my subtle understated humor of yore. Well, sorry. Screw it, that's really hard work, for no gain. If I could do some good, I'd crawl across broken glass to achieve it. But all I can do is vent.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:49 PM | Comments (3)

September 6, 2011

They are her opponents. Thus, never mentioned by name.

Kevin DuJan, on 10 reasons Sarah Palin is running. This one is referring to the (silly, I think) idea that Sarah won't run, but rather will prefer to be a "kingmaker." And why she is delaying entering the race.

...If she wanted to king or queen-maker, for fun or profit, Governor Palin would be playing games with these various candidates, making them jump through hoops to secure her endorsement. She would, in fact, be having a BLAST doing it too, because Palins seem to have a blast whatever they do in life...


....Have you noticed — she's not interfering in the slightest with any of the other GOP candidates.

Why not, when it would be so much fun?

This is because Governor Palin knows these are her opponents. She is an undeclared candidate right now because the moment she officially declares, this race will be all about her and the other people running will not be vetted or examined because the media will just want to engage in relentless and unending attacks on Sarah Palin.

The Governor learned a lot from Hillary Clinton's failed 2008 campaign, in that with Hillary declared and on the scene, Obama was able to secure the nomination with no media vetting. Any attacks Hillary tried to make failed, because the media was only interested in talking about things from the 90s that degraded and maligned Hillary Clinton. Obama thus got a free pass that Hillary could not overcome in the nomination battle.

Governor Palin has realized that before she enters the race, she needs to give the media nothing else to do, nothing more interesting to talk about, then to spend time on some of the other candidates for the nomination before the media focuses everything it has on trying to destroy Sarah Palin (which is considered an Olympic sport at the New York Slimes and MSDNC)...

Well really, Sarah's tactics have already pretty much destroyed everybody except Perry. And I wouldn't be surprised if couple of more weeks will cook him to medium-well. Somehow I don't think he's quite the vrai. It's just my impression but I don't think he will growww under the hot lights. Plus now everyone will look at him and think, "crony capitalism," even though Sarah never even mentioned his name. Am I right?

She's drawing bigger crowds than Romney. Bachman is shrinking before our eyes. Who else is there? A buncha future ambassadors and cabinet secretaries in the Palin administration. Cain can get France. Don't they also make pizzas, or something?

Posted by John Weidner at 10:37 PM

September 4, 2011

"Life is not an error, even when it is"

The American Scholar: My Bright Abyss - Christian Wiman:

...IF YOU RETURN to the faith of your childhood after long wandering, people whose orientation is entirely secular will tend to dismiss or at least deprecate the action as having psychological motivations—motivations, it goes without saying, of which you are unconscious. As it happens, you have this suspicion yourself. It eats away at the intensity of the experience that made you proclaim, however quietly, your recovered faith, and soon you find yourself getting stalled in arguments between religion and science, theology and history, trying to nail down doctrine like some huge and much-torn tent in the wind.

In fact, there is no way to "return to the faith of your childhood," not really, not unless you've just woken from a decades-long and absolutely literal coma. Faith is not some remote, remembered country into which you come like a long-exiled king, dispensing the old wisdom, casting out the radical, insurrectionist aspects of yourself by which you'd been betrayed. No. Life is not an error, even when it is. That is to say, whatever faith you emerge with at the end of your life is going to be not simply affected by that life but intimately dependent upon it, for faith in God is, in the deepest sense, faith in life—which means, of course, that even the staunchest life of faith is a life of great change. It follows that if you believe at 50 what you believed at 15, then you have not lived—or have denied the reality of your life.

To admit that there may be some psychological need informing your return to religion does not preclude or diminish the spiritual imperative any more than acknowledging the chemical reactions of romantic attraction lessens the mystery of enduring human love. Faith cannot save you from the claims of reason, except insofar as it preserves and protects that wonderful, terrible time when reason, if only for a moment, lost its claim on you....
Posted by John Weidner at 9:16 PM