Thursday, December 31, 2009

Parting Thought of the Year

I don't know much about the rest of his political beliefs (he is purportedly the first person to call himself an anarchist and is also termed a socialist), but man did Pierre-Joseph Proudhon have it right in describing what it really means to be "governed", particularly if to the open-ended extent that totalitarians and collectivists, whether claiming to be left or right, would carry their endless scheming for control over humanity :

To be governed is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so.

To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished.

It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place(d) under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored.

(h/t to John Stossel)


Southern Avenger Lays Out the Scam of "Social Conservatism"

As I have written here and elsewhere before, social(ist) conservatives are an aberrant sect of what are, in essence, statists who have hijacked the moniker of conservatism.

They have done so, I believe, in an attempt to mask their fundamentally-statist authoritarianism in matters of personal or private life behind the nominal and false claim that they are not, in fact, quite in philosophical league with the socially-permissive leftists they so abhor.

Irrespective of "social conservative" claims of distinction from their leftist brethren and sistern, their agenda is nonetheless fundamentally the same. Social "conservatives" are merely big government statists with a different agenda for control and social uniformity...but just as frightening an agenda if taken even close to its natural conclusion.

So-called "social conservatives" are the other side of the same hollow coin of collectivist control over the individual.

And "social conservatives" positively exude (albeit from different justifications and rationalizations) the self-righteous social moralizing and pseudo-moralism that subsumes leftist ideology vis a vis the need for a massive comprehensive welfare state.

All true conservatives, i.e. those truly interested in reducing the power, scope and control of government over the lives of individuals and - yes - families, should beware these trojan horsemen "social conservatives" who would bastardize conservatism and risk making the word "conservative" as much of an epithet as the term liberal has become for most Americans.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Federalism Resurgent? Some State Officials Begin Fighting Back Leviathan

This is an interesting development, by which the Democrats' disgusting secretive self-dealing process of health care lawmaking-by-payoff is not being accepted merely as the ugly side of politics-as-usual deal cutting and vote buying.

Now actual prosecutors from various states are taking notice of the putrid stench of corruption permeating the Harry Reid health care monstrosity.

But of course, these are just partisan Republicans driven purely by political considerations, unlike those exemplars of moral and political virtue intent on ramming this shit sausage straight down the public's throats.

Several prosecutors probing health care deal

They question the constitutionality of ‘Nebraska compromise’

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The top prosecutors in seven states are probing the constitutionality of a political deal that cut a funding break for Nebraska in order to pass a federal health care reform bill, South Carolina's attorney general said Tuesday.

Attorney General Henry McMaster said he and his counterparts in Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, North Dakota, Texas and Washington state — all Republicans — are jointly taking a look at the deal they've dubbed the "Nebraska compromise."

"The Nebraska compromise, which permanently exempts Nebraska from paying Medicaid costs that Texas and all other 49 states must pay, may violate the United States Constitution — as well as other provisions of federal law," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said.

McMaster's move comes at the request of Republican U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint of South Carolina. In a letter to McMaster, Graham singled out the deal to win Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson's vote on the massive health care bill the Senate is expected to adopt Thursday. Nelson held out as fellow Democrats worked to get 60 votes to foreclose a GOP filibuster and the bill was amended to shield Nebraska from the expected $45 million annual cost tied to expanding Medicaid programs.

"We have serious concerns about the constitutionality of this Nebraska compromise as it results in special treatment for only one state in the nation at the expense of the other 49," Graham and DeMint wrote.

Nebraska wasn't alone in getting Medicaid breaks. Vermont, Louisiana and Massachusetts also got help with their programs. Along with Texas, officials in Washington, Alabama, Colorado and Michigan confirmed they were working with McMaster.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Tennessee's Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey called for his state's attorney general to investigate the deal.

"Whether in the court of law or in the court of public opinion, we must bring an end to this culture of corruption," McMaster said. The negotiations "on their face appear to be a form of vote buying paid for by taxpayers," he said.

‘We'll assist anyone’McMaster is encouraging a South Carolina citizen to step forward to sue to challenge the measure if it is signed into law. "We'll assist anyone to the extent that we're able," McMaster said.

Also Tuesday, U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said Republicans need to stop complaining about deals their colleagues made.

"Rather than sitting here and carping about what Nelson got for Nebraska, I would say to my friends on the other side of the aisle: Let's get together and see what we can get for South Carolina," Clyburn said.

For instance, Clyburn expects states will get more help covering Medicaid expansion costs. Critics say the federal government's coverage of 91 percent of those future costs will disappear, leaving states with huge holes in their budgets.

Clyburn says the legislation the federal share should be 95 percent, with states picking up no more than 5 percent.

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said the federal legislation is "well intended," but called it "fundamentally flawed in the same way the stimulus efforts were in that the states and the taxpayers are left footing the bill."

Sanford this spring was the nation's only governor to take a state legislature to federal and state court to block federal stimulus money.

The Democrat partisan mania to pass something/anything to meet the artificial Obama health care legislation timeline (which, nauseatingly, has been largely admitted as based on the politics and timing of Obama's desired State of the Union Address triumphalism) and driven by the Democrats phony hysterical sky-is-falling urgency (only to have the public wait 4 years before any of the purported benefits arrive) has produced the most reckless, chaotic, single-mindedly-partisan trainwreck of a legislative process I have ever witnessed in my lifetime (covering at least 25 years closely following national politics).

Rand Paul is Rockin' It in the Bluegrass State

Dr. Rand Paul looks poised to become the next junior Senator from Kentucky, if polling trends continue as they have.

As I have said before, Paul if elected would be the single most libertarian U.S. Senator in the last 50 years, if not more.

Paul has rocketed to the top of the polls from just months ago when he was pooh-poohed by establishment-type Republicans, much like the treatment his father Ron Paul received during his bid for the presidency.

Rand Paul entered the fray trailing behind establishment Kentucky Republican Secretary of State Trey Grayson. However, Paul has since taken a "commanding lead". His support is grassroots and based purely on the power of his ideas and the conviction with which he offers them up.

Rand Paul's election as a Republican U.S. Senator would be a serious harbinger that the libertarian conservative uprising in the G.O.P. is not only real but quite consequential and arguably the future of the party, no matter the exhortations, caricaturizations and defamations by hysterical leftists to the effect that the Republican Party is dominated by some minority fringe of redneck troglodyte bible thumpers.

Except for intractable statists and totalitarian-minded utopian collectivists, the basic notions of libertarianism are wildly popular amongst most human beings for the simple reason that freedom is cherished by human beings the world over.

Unless numbed up and dumbed down to a drooling mindset of entitled servitude or servile entitlement, most thinking human beings value and instinctively yearn for physical autonomy, personal self-direction, and the basic ideals of individual distinction and accomplishment.

20% of the country self-identifies as "liberal". I would argue that it is about this same percent of the populace (20%) that possesses the requisite self-importance, arrogance, self-righteousness, and general dementia enough to actually think that the force (violence, when you get down to it) of geographically-inescapable public power should be the handmaiden for enforcing their hodge-podge political and social control agenda...whatever their fancy happens to be this month/year/decade/century.

At bottom it's always the same agenda : power, patronage, and control.

Freedom becomes only more popular, its proponents more in demand, and its foundational philosophies more influential in times such as we now live...with the ham-fist of forced nationalist collectivism hammering away --- big corporatism and big government working in tandem behind a grotesque masquerade of pseudo-populist socialism.

Those now riding high in the seat of power proposing coercive federal mandates to heap increasingly crushing burdens on individuals, coupled to reckless fiscal profligacy with the public treasury, can look forward to a rising tide of broad, deep and fierce opposition to their perverse, manipulative machinations of national public policy and resources.

2009 has been an eye-opener, if not a big bucket of cold water thrown on the slumbering giant.

It is a godsend to liberty that the national leftists are so megalomaniacal in self-reinforcing delusions of social and historical grandeur that they are utterly oblivious the ground is shifting like quicksand beneath their feet.

Not that anyone would contend Kentucky is much of a state for leftist Democrats to pay attention to. But they would be wise to pay heed to the rapid rise of a populist-minded libertarian conservative like Rand Paul in a state in which the GOP has heretofore been largely a haven of country-club, internationalist, establishment politicians.

The totalitarians posing as democrats should take serious heed that their avowed mortal political enemy, the Republican Party, could be on the verge of sending to the United States Senate someone like Rand Paul - a consistent and unflappable opponent of that distorted quasi-religion that elevates and glorifies government power as the ultimate arbiter of all human interaction, if not the ultimate power over all humanity.

Rand Paul, if successful God willing, will not be the only defender of liberty embraced by the electorate in 2010 and beyond, when all is said and done.

There will be more...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Democrats : Party of Big Government and Big Business All Nice and Cozy In Bed Together

Jonah Goldberg gets it right in this analysis.

The notion that big business is "right wing" has always been more sloppy agitprop than serious analysis. It's true that historically, big business is against socialism and communism -- and understandably so. Socialism and communism were once close to synonymous with expropriation of wealth and the nationalization of industry. What businessman or industrialist wouldn't be against that?

But many of those same industrialists saw nothing wrong with cutting deals with statist regimes. For example, the Swope Plan, put forward by Gerard Swope, president of General Electric, laid out the infrastructure for much of the early New Deal.

Yet the debate is always framed as if the choice is between "government intervention" on the one hand and free-market capitalism on the other. From 30,000 feet, that division is fine with me. My objection is the glib and easy association of big business with the free-market guys (Milton Friedman was no champion of public-private partnerships and industrial policy).

This identification allows self-described progressive Democrats to run against big business when they are in fact in bed with the fat cats.

For instance, the standard line from the Democrats is that the plutocrats and corporate mustache-twirlers oppose healthcare reform because, in President Obama's words, they "profit financially or politically from the status quo." That sounds reasonable, and in some cases it is reasonable. But it makes it sound as if Obama is bravely battling "malefactors of great wealth."

But that's not really how it works, as Timothy Carney documents in his powerful new book, "Obamanomics."
In 2008, Obama raked in more donations from the health sector than John McCain and the rest of the Republican field combined. Drug makers gave Obama $3.58 for every dollar they gave McCain. Pfizer gave to Obama at a 4-1 rate, as did the hospital and nursing home industries. In 2008, the insurance industry gave more money to House Democrats than House Republicans. HMOs give to Democrats over Republicans by a margin of 60 to 40.

This pattern is hardly unique to healthcare. The U.S. Climate Action Partnership, led by GE, includes many other Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs -- the company that has profited mightily from Obama's brand of hope and change.
CAP is an aggressive supporter of the Democrats' climate change scheme. Why? Because GE and company stand to make billions from carbon pricing, thanks largely to investments in technologies that cannot survive in a free market without massive subsidies from Uncle Sam. GE chief Jeffrey Immelt cheerleads big government as "an industry policy champion, a financier and a key partner."

Going back to U.S. Steel and the railroads, the story of big business in America is often as not the story of fat cats rigging the system. And the story of progressivism is the same story. The New Deal codes were mostly written by big business to squeeze out smaller competitors. The progressives fought for these reforms on the grounds that it's easier to steer a few giant oxen than a thousand cats.

But healthcare is the most troubling example of the trend. Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson notes that while everyone has been debating the government takeover of healthcare, what's really transpired is healthcare's takeover of government -- thanks to what he calls the "medical industrial complex." Already 1 in 4 federal outlays are for healthcare; government pays, directly or indirectly, for half of all healthcare costs; and the entire industry is heavily regulated. Obama's answer to this state of affairs is more -- much more -- of the same, on the phantasmagorial grounds that it will cut costs.

My biggest objection is not to what isn't true about the claim that the right is the handmaiden to big business, it's to what is true.
Too many Republicans think being pro-business is the same as being pro-market. They defend the status quo against bad reforms and think they've defended economic freedom. The status quo stinks. And the sooner Republicans learn that, the sooner they'll deserve to win again.

Well said by Goldberg, especially about misguided Republicans who think supporting any business, especially big, is akin to support for free market capitalism.

But even moreso, enough of the tired lies of self-described "progressives" that they stand against big business, when the massive federal government they always seek to empower is the lifeblood of the crony corporatism that we all saw run to DC for bailouts and a whole panoply of assorted corporate welfare schemes.

There is damn good reason corporate lobbyists have never been fatter or sassier than when the so-called "progressives" are in charge. The social policy happy-talk smoke screens that these "progressives" peddle are but fancy distraction from the real goings-on as corporate interests fund and control "progressive" politicians who happily wield and expand federal power.

You want corporate influence in government to diminish? The ONLY way is to diminish the influence and power of government itself.

As I have said countless times to the stooges who actually buy the cock-and-bull that their leftist leaders in DC actually care about the interests of working Americans :

Be careful the big government you wish for. It just might get you.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's About the Horrible Policies, Stupid

Obama is now convincingly a minority president. No, I don't mean racially.

I mean Obama now joins George W. Bush not only in the continuation of neocon foreign policies and big government profligacy, but (inevitably) that this is leading him to now consistently poll below 50% approval...and falling.

At 46%, President Obama's latest job approval rating is the lowest ever in Quinnipiac polls, and he has an upside down rating for his handling of health care.

The new survey (Dec. 1-6, 2313 RV, MoE +/- 2%), released this morning, finds 44% disapproving of the job Obama's doing.

More than half (51%) of independents now disapprove of Obama's job performance, while 37% approve.

Similarly : Obama's 47 Percent Approval Lowest of Any President at This Point

The public's fast-growing disapproval of Obama's arrogant power-mongering should come as no surprise, except perhaps to the most reality-oblivious and purely-partisan hopechangelings now hunkering down in the bunker.

The public is quickly losing confidence in everything about the Obama presidency, as well it should.

Even the mile-wide, inch-deep veneer of public confidence that may have existed in the wake of Obama's ascension will not be regained, if ever, as long as Obama continues to be an arrogant partisan ideologue, pursuing a messianic agenda in willful disregard of the deeply-held reservations of scores of millions of Americans of all political stripes...essentially a redux of the way George W. Bush did business.

It took Bush several years to fall through the floor in public approval. Obama is on track to exceed Bush's free fall in its breadth and depth.

And why not? Obama's policies are akin to Bush's worst imperial presidential one-party hegemonic power fantasies and control ideology...on steroids.

Couldn't happen to a more deserving charlatan.

And indicators like this certainly don't bode well for the Democrats and their massive ad hoc slapdash schemes to centrally plan all American life around leftist pipe dreams.

I believe most thinking Americans implicitly understand that the rise of comprehensive welfare statism (on credit) with the Obamanation run amok spells a future of economically moribund life in which maintaining lower middle-class trappings is akin to luxury...but of course life is worth living 'cause you have "free" health care.

As in : "Hey your life will be muddling drudgery largely in service to voracious tax parasites, but at least you will be able to get that boil lanced on the cheap...and maybe even prolong your life of servitude by a year or two!"

Millions of Americans can see that if this Obama-led runaway train over the cliff to hell isn't stopped and fast that they will soon consider it a blessing simply to sustain a bare semblance of personal and familial economic stability, scraping by on what is left after the central planners get through with everyone's resources and wealth.

As I have said about Bush, I will say about Obama et al :

Always wrong. Never in doubt.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Obama's War

I hope the president is pleased with himself now that he has earned himself the neocon mantle , praised by those bloodthirsty chicken-hawk war cheerleaders who are content with any bit of a loaf of aggressive middle east adventurism and interventionism. Only the most militarist will remain unsatisfied with Obama's splitting the loaf, in a truly half-assed attempt to politically hedge his decision to continue the waging of remote overseas wars by the United States.

No thinking citizen who listened to Obama's speech last night, complete with "19 hijackers", "9/11", "terrorist safe havens", and all manner of stock-in-trade Bush war-justifying catch phrases, could not help but feel Obama may as well have been reading from the Bush/neocon script, word-for-word.

As if the Obama national domestic profligacy and power-mongering isn't bad enough, now he has bear-hugged the worst elements of American foreign policy decision-making since Woodrow Wilson.

One thing consistent about Obama : the man never ever ever fails to grievously disappoint people of good faith who seek real change in this country.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

So long, and thanks for all the fish

The absence of new content here for the past few days has not been the result of any tragedy or work implosion.

I have been thinking seriously about multiple commitments and where in my life I can make the most difference.

Two years ago I started this blog on something of a lark, primarily to see what would happen, and to inject some of my own ideas into that whirlwind we all call the blogosphere. Several thousand posts later, I came to the realization that ... I'm done.

Not that it hasn't been fun, intellectually challenging, or even may have changed the minds of a few people on a few select issues... it has.

But as a whole, I've recently discovered, it's a never-ending personal commitment to an enterprise that neither pays the bills nor makes a significant enough change [as compared to other venues in which I work] to be worth continuing.

I only have a certain amount of time and energy available, and here's where it will be going in the near future:

1. To my family, first and foremost--a few extra minutes each day as my twins go through the teenage years.

2. To Delaware State Unversity, which needs some heavy shoveling to get out of the mess that the Sessoms' administration left us in, and which--as an organization--has finally recognized that fact. I have been spending multiple hours each week in labor negotations for a new faculty contract, working on personnel issues, and supporting my own dean. These are real projects, with real impacts on people, and I need to carve out some more time for them.

3. To my own serious writing--which has directly suffered thanks to this blog. I am hanging fire on three book contracts, and I have finally gotten started doing the serious work to meet some deadlines. It feels good, and there is actually a chance that some of my work might have serious impact on how America looks at its Civil War, or how the world has contextualized the Russo-German War from 1941-1945, and what that means for foreign policy and genocide studies. There are only so many books you can write in a career, and I've only written nine so far. Before senility hits I aim to double that number, but I cannot do it if I am pounding the keyboard here.

4. To my commitment to the News Journal's Community Advisory Board, which gives me a less frequent but much larger audience for commentary [no, A1, it won't be specifically libertarian-oriented commentary].

Not that it matters, but this has been a difficult decision, and I only really crystalized it last night while talking to Dana Garrett, who has recently reached the same conclusion.

I won't rule out doing this again some day in a different format, and I certainly doubt I will give up the habit of checking and commenting on local blogs. Maybe if I have something to say I will ask somebody for some space for a guest post every now and again.

But I've just reached the point where it's time to say, Thank you, to friends and critics alike, and to move on to other parts of the world.

I owe a special thanks to Tyler (for whom this is coming blindside out of the blue) and the two Brians who wrote so much good stuff here as well.

As Benjamin Disraeli once noted, much of being a successful party guest revolves around having the wisdom to know when it's time to leave.

It's time.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

... and thinking about all those queers would be too distracting right now

So--not surprisingly--the US Senate cancels scheduled hearings on repealing DADT:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A planned November hearing by the US Senate Armed Services Committee to consider ending a ban on gays serving openly in the US military will be postponed, a spokeswoman indicated Friday.

"We do not have a date" for the hearing, said the aide, Tara Andringa.

Note to America's LGBQT community: like free lunch, there will be equality tomorrow.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Breaking! DSU Trustees select Dr Harry Williams as next President

No details on the maneuverings, but I have it confirmed that current Provost and Academic VP of DSU, Dr Harry Williams, has been announced as DSU's next President.

In my (always humble) opinion, the best choice available to them.

Good luck, Dr Williams. I look forward to working with you in your new role.

Tom Englehardt's seven reasons to get out of Afghanistan now

... which he cast as if given in a speech by President Obama:

1. We have no partner in Afghanistan. The control of the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai hardly extends beyond the embattled capital of Kabul. He himself has just been returned to office in a presidential election in which voting fraud on an almost unimaginably large scale was the order of the day. His administration is believed to have lost all credibility with the Afghan people.

2. Afghanistan floats in a culture of corruption. This includes President Karzai’s administration up to its highest levels and also the warlords who control various areas and, like the Taliban insurgency, are to some degree dependent for their financing on opium, which the country produces in staggering quantities. Afghanistan, in fact, is not only a narco-state, but the leading narco-state on the planet.

3. Despite billions of dollars of American money poured into training the Afghan security forces, the army is notoriously understrength and largely ineffective; the police forces are riddled with corruption and held in contempt by most of the populace.

4. The Taliban insurgency is spreading and gaining support largely because the Karzai regime has been so thoroughly discredited, the Afghan police and courts are so ineffective and corrupt, and reconstruction funds so badly misspent. Under these circumstances, American and NATO forces increasingly look like an army of occupation, and more of them are only likely to solidify this impression.

5. Al-Qaeda is no longer a significant factor in Afghanistan. The best intelligence available to me indicates — and again, whatever their disagreements, all my advisors agree on this — that there may be perhaps 100 al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan and another 300 in neighboring Pakistan. As I said in March, our goal has been to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and on this we have, especially recently, been successful. Osama bin Laden, of course, remains at large, and his terrorist organization is still a danger to us, but not a $100 billion-plus danger.

6. Our war in Afghanistan has become the military equivalent of a massive bail-out of a firm determined to fail. Simply to send another 40,000 troops to Afghanistan would, my advisors estimate, cost $40-$54 billion extra dollars; eighty thousand troops, more than $80 billion. Sending more trainers and advisors in an effort to double the size of the Afghan security forces, as many have suggested, would cost another estimated $10 billion a year. These figures are over and above the present projected annual costs of the war — $65 billion — and would ensure that the American people will be spending $100 billion a year or more on this war, probably for years to come. Simply put, this is not money we can afford to squander on a failing war thousands of miles from home.

7. Our all-volunteer military has for years now shouldered the burden of our two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even if we were capable of sending 40,000-80,000 more troops to Afghanistan, they would without question be servicepeople on their second, third, fourth, or even fifth tours of duty. A military, even the best in the world, wears down under this sort of stress and pressure.

Sobering truths that our leaders seem unwilling to acknowledge....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

In which I announce my candidacy for Congress in Delaware's Second Congressional District

... because I think that I might actually have a shot there.

The incumbent has been so ineffective as to be virtually invisible on the issues that matter to Delaware.

He (or she, I could never tell) needs to go.

My platform is simple:

1) I promise to triple the number of jobs created or saved in the district under the current stimulus programs.

2) I promise to double the number of people in the district receiving Medicaid benefits, even if that means providing completely free health insurance to some people now paying for it, just to hit my targets.

3) I am calling for the dsitrict to receive three times as much beach replenishment funding as it received last year.

4) I am not Mike Protack.

5) I am a firm believer in term limits, so I will pledge not to serve any more terms in the House of Representatives that necessary for me to supplement my State retirement with a Federal plan of equal or greater value.

6) Oh, and I'm not Colin Bonini, either.

and, finally:

7) I have a bumper sticker that is not lifted from the Old Testament:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A bumper sticker, a Bible, and--oops--some Jews! Let's throw the whole thing out!?

OK, it's tacky, and not really funny (neither were those T-shirts proclaiming that GHW Bush had wished that his wife had had an abortion before the nationa had an abortion for president), but is it really a reason to throw out the Old Testament?

Delawaredem thinks so, first noting that the significance of the Psalm is in Psalm 109:9--the next verse:

“Religious” conservatives have a new slogan that they are putting on bumper stickers and t-shirts.

“Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8″

What does Psalm 109:8 say?

“Let his days be few; and let another take his office.”

Well, that’s not bad. They are just praying for Obama to be replaced as President. Hey, I wanted Bush gone as President too, through his impeachment for war crimes. But let’s read the next verse that follows Psalm 109:8 which “religious” conservatives all so cleverly leave off the t-shirts and bumper stickers.

“Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”

So, it is pretty obvious that anyone repeating, wearing, or using this slogan “Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8″ is actually calling for the President’s death in some form. And they want him to die sooner rather than later.

From this, DD goes on to reach the argument that we should--as a society--toss out the Old Testament. Seriously:

No, today I will turn my ire against the Old Testament of the Bible, the text that provides these “religious” conservatives with their murderous ideas in the first place. Let me ask you a question.

Has any other book been responsible for more death and destruction over the last 5,000 years that this one?

All sorts of depravity are justified by its text. Slavery, genocide, and murder. To this day, David Anderson opposes homosexuality simply because the Old Testament says it is an abomination. To this day, people use its text to justify their wrongful behavior. Revenge is justified by the Old Testament. Discrimination is justified by the Old Testament. Hatred is justified by the Old Testament.

Have any of you ever read the Old Testament from cover to cover?

Uh, yes, as a matter of fact I have. But where are you going with this DD?

So if you believe that Old Testament is still relevant today, you believe in a God that is giant dick, who condones and actually encourages murder, slavery and genocide, who believes that some of His own children that He created in His own image are actually abominations destined for eternal flame. I am content to follow the New Testament and his commandment that we love rather than hate each other. But I suppose if your political ideology rests on hatred, it is useless [sic] to have the Old Testament around.

Few lines down, MJ--who happens to be Jewish--politely, ahem, points out to Delawaredem that, uh, gee, guy, the OT also happens to be the Hebrew Bible.... And DD responds:

Yeah, something I did not think about in writing this is the Jewish faith, which is based on the Torah, which is the Old Testament. Indeed, I write this from a perspective of being a New Testament follower.

The difference I think between Jews and Evangelicals is interpretation. Evangelicals take the Old Testament literally. And from my experience with my Jewish friends, the Jewish faith and people do not. Certainly the Jewish faith does not believe in genocide and slavery. Other aspects of the Old Testament that I speak of you will have to address with respect to the Jewish faith.

But I am certainly not intending to invite the destruction of the Jewish people when I say throw out the Old Testament.

So let's see, we started with Psalm 109, condemned the Old Testament as brutal and genocidal, then backed off and said, essentially, that it's all right for Jews to have the OT because they don't actually believe its true the same way certain Christians do.

There are so many things wrong with this that I am at a loss regarding where to start.

How about we quote all of Psalm 109, for example, which is being mis-used both by the people who printed the bumper stickers and their critics who only quote two verses:

1 O God, whom I praise,
do not remain silent,

2 for wicked and deceitful men
have opened their mouths against me;
they have spoken against me with lying tongues.

3 With words of hatred they surround me;
they attack me without cause.

4 In return for my friendship they accuse me,
but I am a man of prayer.

5 They repay me evil for good,
and hatred for my friendship.

6 Appoint [a] an evil man [b] to oppose him;
let an accuser [c] stand at his right hand.

7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
and may his prayers condemn him.

8 May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.

9 May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow.

10 May his children be wandering beggars;
may they be driven [d] from their ruined homes.

11 May a creditor seize all he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.

12 May no one extend kindness to him
or take pity on his fatherless children.

13 May his descendants be cut off,
their names blotted out from the next generation.

14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD;
may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.

15 May their sins always remain before the LORD,
that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.

16 For he never thought of doing a kindness,
but hounded to death the poor
and the needy and the brokenhearted.

17 He loved to pronounce a curse—
may it [e] come on him;
he found no pleasure in blessing—
may it be [f] far from him.

18 He wore cursing as his garment;
it entered into his body like water,
into his bones like oil.

19 May it be like a cloak wrapped about him,
like a belt tied forever around him.

20 May this be the LORD's payment to my accusers,
to those who speak evil of me.

21 But you, O Sovereign LORD,
deal well with me for your name's sake;
out of the goodness of your love, deliver me.

22 For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is wounded within me.

23 I fade away like an evening shadow;
I am shaken off like a locust.

24 My knees give way from fasting;
my body is thin and gaunt.

25 I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
when they see me, they shake their heads.

26 Help me, O LORD my God;
save me in accordance with your love.

27 Let them know that it is your hand,
that you, O LORD, have done it.

28 They may curse, but you will bless;
when they attack they will be put to shame,
but your servant will rejoice.

29 My accusers will be clothed with disgrace
and wrapped in shame as in a cloak.

30 With my mouth I will greatly extol the LORD;
in the great throng I will praise him.

31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy one,
to save his life from those who condemn him.

Wow. This is some pretty grim stuff.

Note that the references in 109:8-15 are prayers for judgment against an evil person, someone who abuses the poor and curses [in the semi-magical sense] the righteous. OT scholars might explain to DD and our bumper-sticker owners that psalms and prayers like this actually represented an ethical and moral advance in the Middle East during the time in question, and that even Biblical literalists have difficulty reading abstract intercessory psalms as true pieces of history.

Somebody should also probably explain that the doctrine of Biblical Literalism and Biblical Inerrancy originate in the Reformation as a rejection of a professional clergy. The Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches had always held the position that the Bible was not mere history, but a much more important document filled with allegory, spiritual meaning, and--most significantly--the need for interpretation. That's why the Catholic Church did not encourage Bible reading as such. The Literalists are essentially a political response: if the Bible means only what it says, and if the Bible is objectively accurate as history, then it does not need interpretation. Anyone who reads or hears the Scripture can understand it.

To some of us this sounds suspiciously like dumbing down the Bible by ignoring 1,500 years of Biblical exegesis of the NT and another 500-800 years on top of that for the OT. Evangelicals, however, developed the doctrine that the Fall of Man (original sin) so compromised human reason that we can only receive the Bible, not interpret it.

But is it time to give the OT the old heave-ho because the ancient Israelites were, ah, a rather bloodthirsty, genocidal lot?

Aside from the rather important question of cutting yourself off from one of the major intellectual sources of the Western Intellectual Tradition (which doesn't really seem to be much of problem for DD), what bothers me about his suggestion is that it is tantamount to saying that some documents, some ideas, are just to prone to misuse by some folks that those ideas ought to be eliminated from society.

Forget about the millions of Jews who have lived careful, blameless lives attempting to delve the meaning of Torah and Talmud.

Forget about the hundreds of millions of Christians who never seek to use the OT as an excuse for violent or petty behavior.

Instead, condemn the Book itself rather than the individuals you think are misusing it--sort of the way we are exactly NOT supposed to condemn the Quran or Muslims in general for the acts of some radicalized killers.

There are passages both appalling and beautiful in the OT, and a desert moral code that can chill you to the bone with its stonings and ritual killings. There is the Agedah of Abraham willing to kill his son at God's command, and the centuries old question of how that should be interpreted. There is fodder for those who want to ostracize or kill people over their differences: Middle Eastern tribes were not hallmarks of tolerance. There is even the complete redefinition of the OT by NT scholars who distorted the original meanings of the stories in order to prefigure Christ or create an intellectual consistency between Yahweh and the God of the NT.

There is also a huge missing link of Hellenistic Jewish religious material that ties together the latest books of the OT to the NT tradition.

But we need to get rid of it, DD says, because some people are too hateful and too idiotic to understand more than superficial, literal interpretations.

[What happened, I wonder, to the Earth's angular momentum when God made the sun stand still for several hours?]

This argument ignores the fact that thoughtful Christians have been dealing with the more gory and vengeful parts of the OT for decades, even centuries. Take theologian and novelist C. S. Lewis on--of all things--Psalm 109:

In his marvelous book, Reflections on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis observed:

In some of the Psalms the spirit of hatred which strikes us in the face is like the heat from a furnace mouth. In others the same spirit ceases to be frightful only by becoming (to a modern mind) almost comic in its naivety. Examples can be found all over the Psalter, but perhaps the worst is in 109 (p. 20).

Lewis suspects that it may be best to leave such psalms alone. But then he says that we must face “facts squarely.”

The hatred is there — festering, gloating, undisguised — and also we should be wicked if we in any way condoned or approved it, or (worse still) used it to justify similar passions in ourselves (p. 22).

Lewis refers to these psalms as horrible, devilish, cruel, hateful, and evil. He believes that Psalm 109 — and the poetry of its kind in the psalter — should point us back to the evil we carry within and teach us each how to behave with goodness, humility, and love.

Psalm-expert Dr Amy Cottrill of Birmingham Southern University makes two critical points about such Psalms: their bellicosity and their disconnect from mainstream Judeo-Christian thought:

The psalm writers clearly have no qualms complaining to God about their pain.

"These are people that believe God cares about their pain and suffering enough that in order to relieve you, God will kill the enemy," she said. "The psalmist isn't just expressing pain, he wants something done about it. The prayer is: `God, kill my enemy.'"

Psalm 109 calls for curses upon the enemy: "May his days be few; may another seize his goods! May his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow! May his children wander about and beg; may they be driven out of the ruins they inhabit! May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil! Let there be none to extend kindness to him, nor any to pity his fatherless children!"

In Psalm 58, the writer calls for the enemy to be punished: "The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked."

The bad guys are portrayed as deserving of big-time vengeance.

"This is very bellicose literature," Cottrill said. "It's very violent. They are asking God to go kill their enemy."...

She finds them to be starkly different in worldview from the modern religious sensibilities of Jews and Christians.

"Most mainstream religious people do not think of God as a religious warrior," she said. "The psalmists did. To them, God is all-powerful, but God is also very personal, very close. They definitely feel they have access. Sometimes they barter with God, saying, `If I die as a result of this suffering, who is going to praise you?' That's a pretty bold view."

Moreover, consider the fact that serious evangelicals, such as the scholars who publish in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, have been coming to grips with the language in Psalm 109 and similar OT passages for a long time:

As Peter C. Craigie suggests, these "expressions of vindictiveness and hatred" cannot be "purified" simply because they are in Scripture, and they are the psalmist's "natural reactions" to evil and pain, and "the sentiments are in themselves evil." The sentiments may also be understood as a product of the limited perspective of the psalmist being an OT believer. William L. Holladay points out that the imprecations exhibit "a very different spirit" from the one set forth in the NT, partly because the OT understands the human nature as "the undivided self," and the psalmists are "wrong about the location of evil," not distinguishing the sinner from sin.

Thoughtful Evangelicals have recognized that this difficult exists not just in an academic theological sense, but in the day-to-day expressions of ministers in their pulpits:

It is notoriously difficult to preach on the Psalms. Some think, moreover, that it is inappropriate to try because the Psalms have a different, quite distinct function in the liturgy....

The Psalms are poems of particularity and must not be treated as a generic statement about the human condition. These are the words, tried and tested, by persons in a particular community and pertain only to those persons in that community. At the outset the preacher must resist privatized interpretation.

The ones who speak here are Israelites who carry with them and bring to expression the long experience and the myriad of remembered texts concerning their life with God. The Psalter belongs in the OT and is surrounded by ancient memories of rescue, treasured accounts of miracles and promises from God, durable commands that have been variously honored and violated, and hopes awaiting fruition. The Psalms are “thick” in the sense that all this accumulated poignant reality is present in the utterance of the Psalms; and the preacher must attend to all that thickness.

Or, consider again, conservative Catholic writer Mark Shea, discussing the concept of righteous anger provoked by horrible inequities [in a piece based on Psalm 109]:

As Christians, of course, we cannot give our voice to such cursing. Jesus has very clearly told us that we must love our enemies and bless, not curse, those who despitefully use us. But that does not mean the Old Testament curses are bad or without value. In them, if we know what we are looking for, we see outrage at evil in chemical purity and know it as a gift of God. For righteous anger is not sin if we use it as God intended: as fuel for the engine of moral action. Anger only becomes a sin when we do not put it in the gas tank of action, but instead pour it on ourselves and others and set it on fire. Then it consumes us. The use of anger, like the use of gasoline, is not to bathe in it and drink it, but to turn its energy toward pursuing the redemptive, active love of God.

The staggering depravity that provoked the curses of our Jewish ancestors (and our own curses above) deserves cold, implacable hatred. It is the only decent response of a child of God. But our hatred must be directed at the sin, not the sinner.

In other words, despite the willingness of political partisans to jump on this bumper sticker as evangelicals trawling for assassins, there is considerable evidence that Christians--Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical--have been seriously wrestling with language like this for years.

But that's all irrelevant, apparently, when the wrong people start using Biblical rhetoric: instead of trying to understand it, or contextualize it, we need to throw it out.

Frank Schaeffer suggested on the Rachel Maddow show that no Christians are reacting against this partisn political usage of Psalm 109. Consider the respones of The Beatitudes Society or the The Mattew25 Network. I hope to see more such voices.

I think that what Delawaredem misses is that there is a continuing battle for the soul of Christianity.

On the one hand are the Christianists, who think that their ethic should be government-enforced policy.

On the other hand there are the Christians who view their religion as a private but potent part of their lives, and who have a rich heritage of religious and political dissent for the improvement of the human condition rather than the imposition of ritual law.

And on the gripping hand there those who see within the Christianists the chance to finally strike a death blow at religion itself, by equating virtually all belief with insanity and fanaticism.

I do not believe DD is one of those people, but I do believe that his position aids and abets them in precisely the same fashion he has formerly accused me of aiding and abetting those who plot violence against the government or the President.

Shorter: I don't think that we only have a choice between David Anderson's Christianity and no Christianity at all.

Only view this if you need proof that marijuana kills (at least the common sense of some LEOs)

Nose-spur warning: put down the coffee.

[h/t Kids Prefer Cheese]

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


There appears to be some sort of basic human compulsion that urges us to (a) amass wealth; (b) build larger and larger, increasingly hierarchical organizations; and (c) control other people's behavior even when said behaviors do not represent a threat to us.

Otherwise I am at a loss to explain the reality of modern society that corporations spend their time attempting to emulate the worst abuses of the State, while simultaneously courting the State to provide them with special status and structural advantages over their smaller competitors.

It intrigues me--and, quite frankly, disappoints me--that many if not most libertarians fail to see the reality that corporations do not represent the free market in action, but actually represent the overt use of anti-competitive State powers to distort the markets in their favor.

Corporate owners enjoy State protection from personal liability for the use of force or fraud.

Corporations enjoy due process rights as artificial persons equal to those guaranteed to US citizens.

Corporations never have to face the issue of inheritance because they are functionally immortal.

Corporations lobby the government for special tax breaks, tax credits, tariff protections, environmental waivers, anti-trust exemptions, and other welfare benefits not available to citizens or small businesses.

Corporations that manage to become "too big to fail" become entitled to life support taken from our tax dollars.

Senior corporate managers enjoy a virtual swinging door relationship with the segments of the government designed to regulate their activity, many moving into and out of those positions [complete with their stock options] every time the White House changes hands.

Corporations often actually lobby for forms of regulation that will suffocate their smaller competition, while being bearable for an organization with hundreds if not thousands of employees.

Corporations willingly accept the role as tax collector/whore for the State.

My point--between the Military/Industrial Complex, the Heatlh Insurance/Pharma Complex, and the other various forms of corporate governance.

Don't get me wrong: I do not favor the idea of simply expanding government regulatory powers in order to have one Leviathan replaced by another.

But at the same time it is important to realize that protecting corporations is far from protecting the free market.

More Like This, PLEASE!

Judge Andrew Napolitano is one of the most passionate, articulate, and unflappable advocates of liberty and limited government around today...

He is the author of 2007's A Nation of Sheep, as well as The Constitution in Exile: How the Federal Government Has Seized Power by Rewriting the Supreme Law of the Land.

Kiss Your Freedoms Goodbye If Health Care Passes

Why we cannot afford to sit out this fight
November 16, 2009

Congress recognizes no limits on its power. It doesn't care about the Constitution, it doesn't care about your inalienable rights. If this health care bill becomes law, America, life as you have known it, freedom as you have exercised it, and privacy as you have enjoyed it will cease to be.

Last week the House of Representatives voted on a 2,000 page bill to give the federal government the power to micromanage the health care of every single American. The bill will raise your taxes, steal your freedom, invade your privacy, and ration your health care.

Even the Republicans have introduced their version of Obamacare Lite. It, too, if passed, will compel employers to provide coverage, bribe the states to change their court rules, and tell insurance companies whom to insure.

We do not have two political parties in this country, America. We have one party; called the Big Government Party. The Republican wing likes deficits, war, and assaults on civil liberties. The Democratic wing likes wealth transfer, taxes, and assaults on commercial liberties. Both parties like power; and neither is interested in your freedoms.

Think about it. Government is the negation of freedom. Freedom is your power and ability to follow your own free will and your own conscience. The government wants you to follow the will of some faceless bureaucrat.

When I recently asked Congressman James Clyburn, the third ranking Democrat in the House, to tell me "Where in the Constitution the federal government is authorized to regulate everyone's healthcare," he replied that most of what Congress does is not authorized by the Constitution, but they do it anyway.

There you have it. Congress recognizes no limits on its power. It doesn't care about the Constitution, it doesn't care about your inalienable rights, it doesn't care about the liberties protected by the Bill of Rights, it doesn't even read the laws it writes.

America, this is not an academic issue. If this health care bill becomes law, life as you have known it, freedom as you have exercised it, privacy as you have enjoyed it, will cease to be. When Congress takes away our freedoms, they will be gone forever.

What will you do to prevent this from happening?

We Can't Sit Back and Allow the Loss of Our Freedoms

We elect the government. It works for us. As we watch the Democrats' plans for health care take shape, we can only ask how did our government get so removed, so unbridled, so arrogant that it can tell us how to live our personal lives?

On Saturday November 7, at 11 o’clock in the evening, the House of Representatives voted by a five vote margin to have the federal government manage the health care of every American at a cost of $1 trillion dollars over the next ten years.

For the first time in American history, if this bill becomes law, the Feds will force you to buy insurance you might not want, or may not need, or cannot afford. If you don’t purchase what the government tells you to buy, if you don’t do so when they tell you to do it, and if you don’t buy just what they say is right for you, the government may fine you, prosecute you, and even put you in jail.

Freedom of choice and control over your own body will be lost. The privacy of your communications and medical decision making with your physician will be gone. More of your hard earned dollars will be at the disposal of federal bureaucrats.

It was not supposed to be this way. Evil rarely comes upon us all at once, and liberty is rarely lost in one stroke. It happens gradually, over the years and decades and even centuries. A little stretch here, a cave in there, powers are slowly taken from the states and the people and before you know it, we have one big monster government that recognizes no restraint on its ability to tell us how to live. It claims the power to regulate any activity, tax any behavior, and demand conformity to any standard it chooses.

[Sort of reminds of a certain leftist hive we all know 'round here.]

The Founders did not give us a government like the one we have today. The government they gave us was strictly limited in its scope, guaranteed individual liberty, preserved the free market, and on matters that pertain to our private behavior was supposed to leave us alone.

In the Constitution, the Founders built in checks and balances. If the Congress got out of hand, the states would restrain it. If the states stole liberty or property, the Congress would cure it. If the president tried to become a king, the courts would prevent it.

In the next few weeks, I will be giving a public class on Constitutional Law here on the Fox News Channel, on the Fox Business Network, on, and on Fox Nation. In anticipation of that, many of you have asked:

What can we do now about the loss of freedom? For starters, we can vote the bums out of their cushy federal offices! We can persuade our state governments to defy the Feds in areas like health care—where the Constitution gives the Feds zero authority.

We can petition our state legislatures to threaten to amend the Constitution to abolish the income tax, return the selection of U.S. senators to state legislatures, and nullify all the laws the Congress has written that are not based in the Constitution.

One thing we can’t do is just sit back and take it.

Leave it to a snarky Reason blog commenter, in the first response to the Judge's article, to pull out an old cinematic nugget to make light :

"Listen! And understand! That government is out there. It can't be bargained with! It can't be reasoned with! It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead!"
or this one :

"First they came for the uninsured, but I did nothing because I had insurance..."

LOL. And a more sober portent :
"Napolitano is spot-on, and he doesn't even address the meta-political effects of Stalinized health care, namely that this will forever shift the terms of the debate in a way that will turn today's Republicans into today's Democrats (just witness the R's breathless defense of Medicare in the current debate) and will allow the Democrats to move even further left.

Once Obamacare proves to be ineffective in controlling costs and delivering services, as it inevitably will, the Left will demand we spread the decay of nationalization to health care's feeder industries. The Blob will spread, and our liberty will die a slow death."

Monday, November 16, 2009

And we still don't know what the mission is

Sometimes it doesn't take paragraphs of analysis to get the point across.

From Politics Daily:

Half a million Americans have served two 12-month tours in Iraq or Afghanistan; 70,000 have served three combat tours; and 20,000 have served five or more deployments, according to Defense Department data.

That's one out of every 600 American citizens.

A two-day hiatus followed by some quick hits

Soccer-induced fatigue rendered me incapable of producing any posts for nearly two days. No, not me: my daughter's team, the Western Family YMCA Bandits, won the statewide Kohl's Cup Tournament for rec leagues on Sunday, going 4-0-2. My daughter (who would like you all to know that she has not been infected with that libertarian thing) plays goal and allowed exactly zero goals in six games. [The Bandits also won the regular season in their league, due in no small part to her .33 goals against average.]

The weather was wonderful this year, but then--moments after winning--we had to rush out to the Charter School of Wilmington open house [for both of the twins]. This is high-school shopping season in Delaware, where choice and charter combine to produce a cross between selecting a college and a sorority/fraternity rush experience. It's kind of like speed-dating with high-school teachers.

So I've been a bit behind in everything, and--frankly--I'm still exhausted. So here are some quick notes.

If all goes as planned (and the plan changed several times last week), I will make my inaugural appearance in the pages of the News Journal as a member of the Community Advisory Board, with an editorial regarding Delaware State Unversity and the State budget. It will be interesting, because while I don't let it all hang out, there will be several lines to make some insiders (maybe even some Trustees) cringe.

I note with almost filial pride that my old friend of thirty-plus years, Waldo, has at least briefly captured the status of Number One political blog in South Carolina, according to Blognet News. The big swinging bloggers of the Palmetto State (most of whom are GOPers) keep trying to figure out who the hell he is. For them, three absolutely useless clues: F. A. Mignet; people Will Rogers never met; and Six's Circus.

Over at Alphecca, Jeff has the best line of the week, whether you agree with his political prediction or not. Forecasting disaster for the Democrats, he suggests that in 2010, they are going to get stomped like a narc at a biker rally.

The local winner in that category is donviti, at his new digs, The Wage Slave: Big business rules in Delaware and like helpless date rape victims we allow the criminals to continue their deviant behavior year after year after year.

On the other hand, David Anderson has the scariest straight [and I mean that in the most humble, Biblical way] line of the week, referring to the recent Oprah interview of Our Lady of Wasilla: It is Sarah Palin at the top of her game. Sarah has game? No shit? The nicest thing I can think to say about Sarah these days is that she is the Wayne Root of the GOP, but with better legs and plucked eyebrows.

Meanwhile, in my wife's hometown, the University of Rochester (NY) has discovered what may be the key to non-macho-behaving little boys in ... their mothers' urine. Yeah. Uh, seriously.

And on that relatively substance-free note, it's off to bed. Real content tomorrow. Lunch will be free then as well.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The wrong conclusions: American liberals are not Nazis (and I am amazed I have to say this)

As much as I like Jeff, who blogs at Alphecca, he's way off the deep in with this obvious comparison of the Obama administration's initiatives and Hitler's Nazis in Austria and Germany, as presented by Kitty Werthmann in North Dakota.

Werthmann, who lived in Austria during the Nazi regime, delivered a blistering comparison between what happened under the Nazis and what is supposedly happening today under the current administration.

Here are a few excerpts:

Once the Nazis took control, the people no longer voted for government positions anymore; all positions down to the local level were filled by appointment.

In the interest of a supposedly more efficient government, the Nazis decided to centralize all government between Germany and Austria.

Hitler nationalized (socialized) the banks, health care, automobile production, education, and more....

Werthmann said Hitler expanded “equal rights” for women, which resulted in far more women going out into the work force. The government created state-run child care and began molding the minds of children at a very young age.

Austria had private health care prior to the Nazis, and the quality was good. But the government took over the health care system, and when health care became “free” the doctors quickly became overloaded by frivolous use of the system. Surgeries of a more important nature, however, had waiting lists of about 18 months because of all the “hypochondriacs” abusing the system.

Werthmann said that if a doctor prescribed a medicine not on the government-approved list, the government would take the cost of the medicine out of the doctor’s salary.

Welfare became a “huge apparatus,” said Werthmann. Everyone had access to subsidized housing, food stamps, heating subsidies and many other benefits until everyone–regardless of salary–reached the prescribed standard of living.

“That’s called socialism,” she said. Werthmann cited the exchange between Joe the Plumber and Presidential Candidate Obama about “spreading the wealth” as a sign that it’s already begun here.

Werthmann, however, papers over quite a few significant differences. Let's start with why the Austrians voted in the Nazis:

Austrians were looking to Germany where they saw prosperity and law and order, while they had near anarchy in their own country. With only a border between them, speaking the same language and having a similar culture, they believed the promise of prosperity from Adolf Hitler. Politically in their country, on one side was the National Socialist Party (Nazi) and the other was the Communist Party.

The communists were growing stronger as a party because of their promises, as well. When the country had to decide between Nazis and Communists, most of the people came to the realization they were a country with a Christian background and could not bring themselves to vote for the atheistic communists. Austria voted the Nazi Party in to power.

Notice the absence in this formulation of (a) the liberal and/or Christian Democrats, who actually held parliamentary majorities in both countries before the Nazis; (b) the omission of the particularly rabid anti-Semitism in Austria that made the Nazi message appealing; (c) the territorial revisionism and desire to have a redo of World War One; (d) the overtly racist appeal of the Nazi program of ethnic superiority to all slavs and untermenchen; and (e) the fact that the Nazis came to power in Germany not through free elections unmarred by violence any more than the Nazis came to power that way in Austria.

In other words: what was wrong with Hitler was socialism, not militarism, racism, or genocidal fervor.

Ms. Werthmann, presented as a survivor of socialism in a macabre effort to create and equivalent to a holocaust survivor, is baldy equating American liberals to genocidal Nazis.

I neither like nor support many of the Obama administration's policies, but I will not be silent while somebody makes the self-serving argument that compares them to the policies of one of the leading mass murderers of the previous century.

Jeff, you should have done a little more thinking before you gave this nutcase a forum.

Terrorism and hate crimes: rethinking a position

One of the hallmarks of the current American political discourse is ossification: you can no longer seriously grapple with issues, because to be seen even considering a possible change in thinking is a sign of weakness and betrayal.

The initial responses to my last post on the radicalization of American politics in response to the Fort Hood massacre is a case in point: an anti-abortion proponent jumped right in to essentially disavow the existentance of radicalized anti-abortion groups, implying that I had said there were only radicalized anti-abortion groups.

The comment cites the case of Abby Johnson as a non-violent anti-abortion activist who is being harassed by a Planned Parenthood gag order, leaving out two salient facts made clear with the link provided in the comment: (1) Johnson is not prohibited from protesting, just talking about confidential medical and staff information; and (2) it would be illegal for her to share confidential patient health information in the first place.

Of course there are legitimate anti-abortion groups, but there are also homicidal nutcases out there, with web pages, mailing lists, and apparently plenty of people will call the killing of physicians justifiable homicide.

Likewise, the commenter suggested that the difference between anti-abortion groups and Islam is that identification with Islam is a much greater predictor of violence:

However, the laundry list of people snapping, and murdering or attempting to murder others in the name of radical Islam, happens more frequently with larger, more organized incidents on an almost quarterly basis.

There is documented evidence that radical Islam imams openly advocate the murder of non believers, Americans, and U.S. soldiers. These imams reach hundreds, not a just a handful of followers.

Nice try, but essentially irrelevant to my point. First, it ignores dozens of violent anti-abortion incidents. Since the mid-1970s, aside from nine murders, there have been 17 attempted murders, 383 death threats, 153 incidents of assault or battery, and 3 kidnappings committed against abortion providers.

And yes, there are plenty of radical Islamic imams around and they preach violence and hatred, based--as Clifford Thies notes at Libertarian Republican--on an interpretative dogma of the Quran called abrogation, which is today just about as controversial, either in concept or application, among Muslims as the evangelical concept of literal Biblical inerrancy is with millions of other Christians.

[It is also important to understand that many Muslims who apply the principle of abrogation to their faith do not reach radicalized or violent conclusions.]

All of which brings me around by a very twisted thought process [sorry about that, but if you didn't this happened here you don't stop by regularly] to the question of terrorism and hate crimes.

I have long opposed hate crime legislation, based on the idea that murder is murder, assault is assault, etc., and that to develop specific crimes and sentences based on intent [not premeditation, but intent] is at best futile and at worst an egegrious extension of State power.

But there have always been aspects of this position that bothered me: are kids who spray random graffiti at a cemetery guilty of the same crime as people who spray-painted swastikas on Jewish graves?

Then townie76 asked why it was necessary to categorize the Fort Hood killer as a terrorist--why not just call him a murderer and have done with it?

Well, I thought, because to call him a terrorist is to make the linkage between his actions (violent murder) and his political intent (advancing the cause of radicalized Islam). Based on the evidence we currently have, being a nutcase does not completely explain his crime. Being a radicalized Islamic nutcase who is attempting to intimidate and strike fear into American soldiers and their families is a far better explanation.

The act of killing soldiers at Fort Hood appears to have been not just an act of violence by a disturbed individual, but a politically motivated act of violence by a disturbed individual.

He went on his killing spree because his victims--non-Muslims--had become acceptable not as individuals but as a class of people victims to kill. Their shared attribute? They were infidels perceived as a danger to Dar al Islam. They were therefore not people but a threat--vermin to be eradicated.

Which then led me to the uncomfortable question of how this asshole differed from the guys who killed Matthew Shepard. Shepard was killed not because of who he was as a person, but as a representative of a class of people: queers who threaten the existence the America his murderers fantasized they were protecting. They saw Shepard as being as much a threat to them as Al Qaeda sees American soldiers on Saudi soil, and they therefore felt justified in eliminating that threat.

They were making a political statement that homosexuals will not be tolerated here, just as people who tied hangman's knots and burned crosses were making a political statement that the blacks in American better learn their place and not be uppity.

Is it, I wondered, legitimate to equate terrorism to hate crimes, with the primary difference being the level of organization or the amount of destruction done by the killers?

Are Muslim honor killings in America best described as hate crimes or terrorism? Is one the retail form and another the wholesale form?

Perhaps. I am still not personally sure about the boundaries between them [although commenters will show up and set me straight in my ignorance, never fear].

But I am sure of this: from a societal perspective there is a difference between killing [maiming, attacking, etc.] someone because of the potential for personal gain, or because of heated emotions, or for personal revenge, than there is for executing the same murder/attack/assault against somebody just because they represent a particular group considered to be threatening, with the intent of not just killing that person but sending a message to the rest of the queers, bitches, negroes....

Do both categories overlap? Of course they do.

Do I still have profound reservations about the potential for the State to misuse hate crimes legislation? Yep.

Is there still a difficult line for me between hate speech and protected political speech? You bet.

But I cannot wrap my mind around declaring a war on terror and defining some murderous acts to be terrorism, while not being intellectually consistent enough to label other murderous acts as hate crimes.

I don't think you can make policy based on the concept of terrorism without acknowleding the existence of hate crimes.

So for Hube, Redwaterlilly, Waldo, and others, here's an admission of intellectual weakness in a world of absolutes: My position on hate crimes was fundamentally flawed. You were right all along.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Of course Major Hasan qualifies as a terrorist--but that is the beginning rather than the end of the question

To note: despite Hube's characterization, in the only post I have written about Fort Hood, I described Major Hasan as a lone-wolf terrorist.

By lone wolf I mean that there is currently no evidence that his massacre at Fort Hood was ordered by, directly supported by, or part of the specific agenda of any given group. He attended a radical mosque, he attempted contact with Al Qaeda, he became more overtly radical--but there still seem to be the primary characteristics of a lone wolf about him. Obviously, new data could change that interpretation.

By terrorist I mean that he committed violence for a specific political/religious/ideological reason, at the very least to encourage other Muslims to do so, and to instill a sense of fear in Americans--especially American soldiers--that they can never be safe from retribution. Those are avowedly political objectives for murdering people who have done nothing except belong to a specific population, and that is the classic definition of terrorism.

The fact that his political objectives for murdering people were the furthering of his view of Islam, and the fact that there is a strong congruency between his known views and those espoused by radical Islam make it legitimate to call this an act of radical Islamic terrorism.

The fact that he is possibly also batshit nuts does not invalidate any of the preceding: he was in the legal sense of the word an effective moral actor because his crime was not only premeditated but very carefully planned.

Shorter: the 9/11 hijackers were also batshit nuts, but that doesn't mean they weren't terrorists.

[In fact, batshit nuts may be a terrorist job requirement.]

Having said that, let's think about the Murderer at Fort Hood in tandem with the following cases:

The anti-abortion murderer of Dr George Tiller;

The white supremacist who committed murder at the Holocaust Museum;

The guy in Pittsburgh who murdered several cops because he thought President Obama was going to take his guns.

[You will note that I am not using their names; I spit on all of them by refusing to use their names--the Fort Hood Murderer as well from this point on.]

There is no hard evidence that any of these four killers operated under the direct instructions of a specific group. Did they have relationships--both virtual and personal--with others who shared radicalized views about Islam, abortion, white supremacy, and gun rights? Absolutely.

Were there in all four cases probably indications that we had radicalized and pretty deranged folks out there? You bet.

Now here's the rub:

Were the people who advocate for the causes of radical Islam, radical anti-abortion, radical white supremacy, and radical gun-rights paranoia responsible for their actions?

This is a tough nut for both the Left and the Right because....

If the Right demands that radical Islam [and by extension almost any Muslim] be held accountable for the Fort Hood murderer, then the Right also has to admit a linkage between the radical anti-abortion groups [and by extension all anti-abortion folks] and Dr Tiller's assassin.

But if the Left demands that linkage between the radical anti-abortion groups [and by extension all anti-abortion folks] and Dr Tiller's assassin, then the Left has to admit that radical Islam [and by extension almost any Muslim] should be held accountable for the Fort Hood murderer.

See, you can't have it both ways.

If radicalized speech advocating even theoretical violence is to be held accountable for actual acts of violence by folks who were radicalized but are acting as lone wolf terrorists, then virtually all radicalized speech must be held so accountable, including the radicalized speech of people like Paul Krugman who castigate political opponents as traitors, a word as full of unhidden messages as the description of the GOP as being equivalent to the Taliban.

Likewise, the use of commie is not meant to invoke Karl Marx and a philosophical/political system, but to invoke the image of Stalin and the Great Terror.

The fact is that American political dialogue has become increasingly radicalized in all directions, which I guess is one of the gifts of 9/11. Huh?

Think of it this way: 9/11 forced America into an "us or them" mindset [I'm not saying it wasn't a legitimate response]. The problem is that "us or them" mindsets in foreign policy and world outlook have a way of penetrating into all other areas of your life and discourse.

9/11 shook us to the core: our way of life, some people abruptly realized, could be extinguished. Psychologically speaking, once any threat is identified as that dangerous, all other perceived threats can appear to be equally dangerous, and your political opponents become your ideological oppoonents.

But.... and without having an answer for the world's problems this is as good a place as any to end up....

We are still moral actors and the Murderer of Fort Hood still made a moral choice based on radicalized Islam.

Therefore he is without question all at once an Islamic terrorist, a lone wolf terrorist, and batshit nuts.

Which will satisfy nobody, but if I really cared about that I'd have a larger audience.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

President Obama's gay-bashing Christian problem

I am reminded by the abrupt re-appearance of Pastor Donnie McClurkin, the rabidly anti-gay minister and early Barack Obama supporter, in a series of You-Tube videos chronicling his opinon that gay people are vampires that there is a specific reason why the President does not take any serious action on the issue of civil rights for gay Americans. [We've covered the Obama-McClurkin links here before.]

It's against his religion.

Aside from McClurkin (whose views then-Senator Obama distanced himself from, but whose support he has continued to court and enjoy in a back-channel wa) and anti-gay zealot Rick Warren (to whom the President gave a national platform at his inauguration), there is also the Circle of Five. NYT:

President Obama has been without a pastor or a home church ever since he cut his ties to the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. in the heat of the presidential campaign. But he has quietly cultivated a handful of evangelical pastors for private prayer sessions on the telephone and for discussions on the role of religion in politics.

All are men, two of them white and three black — including the Rev. Otis Moss Jr., a graying lion of the civil rights movement. Two, the entrepreneurial dynamos Bishop T. D. Jakes and the Rev. Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, also served as occasional spiritual advisers to President George W. Bush. Another, the Rev. Jim Wallis, leans left on some issues, like military intervention and poverty programs, but opposes abortion.

None of these pastors are affiliated with the religious right, though several are quite conservative theologically. One of them, the Rev. Joel C. Hunter, the pastor of a conservative megachurch in Florida, was branded a turncoat by some leaders of the Christian right when he began to speak out on the need to stop global warming.

But as a group they can hardly be characterized as part of the religious left either. Most, like Mr. Wallis, do not take traditionally liberal positions on abortion or homosexuality. What most say they share with the president is the conviction that faith is the foundation in the fight against economic inequality and social injustice.

That is, I suppose, one way of thinking about social injustice, although here's another one:

Rev. Jakes refers to homosexuality as “brokenness” and has claimed that he wouldn’t hire a sexually active gay person. But it seems T.D. can’t even keep his own son off the D.L. (down low). His “sexually broken” heir was arrested earlier this year for cruising a Dallas Park in search of gay men.

Wallis, the chief executive of Sojourners, a Christian magazine, holds “traditional” views on homosexuality and abortion, according to the Times article. Although Wallis has taken some affirmative steps on GLBT equality, he prides himself on not being a part of “the religious left.”

Rev. Caldwell has endorsed Metanoia, an ex-gay ministry designed to “help homosexuals understand with God’s help that ‘change [is] possible.” When the GLBT community worked to elect Obama, this is not what we thought he meant when he promised “change.”

Back to the NYT to find the President on the phone, praying with the man who considers homosexuals to be broken and admits he wouldn't hire one:

Bishop Jakes said he had been tapped for several prayer phone calls — the most recent being when Mr. Obama’s grandmother died in November, two days before the election. “You take turns praying,” said Bishop Jakes, who like the other ministers did not want to divulge details of the calls. “It’s really more about contacting God than each other.”

Truth of the matter: President Obama depends heavily on 95%+ of the African-American vote, as do most Democrats with national aspirations. And that African-American voting block, as a demographic, is significantly more homophobic than other groups.

In which I prefer the Mormons to the idiots apparently running the Diocese of Washington DC

But, you know what? Individual subdivisions of the Catholic Church are entitled to whatever policy positions they like, as long as they get out of the business of taking the government's money.

From WaPo:

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn't change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.

Under the bill, headed for a D.C. Council vote next month, religious organizations would not be required to perform or make space available for same-sex weddings. But they would have to obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians.

Fearful that they could be forced, among other things, to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city.

The key word in this piece is fearful.

It becomes time for Catholics who actually believe in the teachings upon which our church is supposedly founded, to stand up and be counted.

Organizations to which I belong that promote genocide or homophobia...

... because some of our commenters have the strange idea that belonging to any organization whatever makes you responsible for any sins ever committed by that organization or removes all credibility from your views.

They also seem to believe that belonging to any organization represents a blanket public statement that you endorse every single idea ever put forth by that organization.

So I thought it would be important to list for my readers those organizations with which I have been involved that engage in genocide, oppression, homophobia, or discrimination, so that everyone can understand why my views on virtually any subject are completely worthless.

1) I spent twenty-one years of my adult life as a member of an organization that engaged in relentless genocidal wars across the North American continent, has on many occasions bombarded innocent civilians, has used nuclear weapons against undefended cities, and which has engaged in personnel management policies which have (or, in several cases, continue to do so) openly discriminated against African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, female Americans, and LGBQT Americans. Yes, he said sadly on the day after November 11, I am a veteran of the US Army.

2) At the age of forty-five, I made the decision to join an ecclesiastical organization that has--at best--an uncertain record in terms of human rights. This 2,000-year-old organization has engaged in wars, politics, genocide, governmental corruption, and even child abuse. Its leaders here on Earth have proven time and again to be fallible, sometimes even miscogynist, anti-Semitic, or anti-gay. These acts are not, of course, ameliorated by the hundreds of millions of followers who have attempted to live good lives, caring for their family, their neighbors, and even strangers they will never meet in an attempt to live up to the ideals put forth by the organization's founder and first spiritual leader. Nor does it matter that many of the people inside this organization have been (and continue) to work openly and actively for change, nor that former Presidents and current Senators, Governors, and Representatives belong to this organization. It is has sordid history and those involved should be suspected of war crimes until proven innocent. Yes, I joined the Catholic Church. Before that I belonged to the Presbyterian Church (more or less), which has only been less genocidal because, apparently, it has not had as many centuries to work at it, but which did participate in the cultural genocide of Native Americans and offered any number of apologies for slavery. Crap--I'm beginning to see the point: any religious belief of any sort renders me incapable of meaningful civic participation.

3) I also belong the to the Libertarian Party. This is an interesting one. Since it has only been in existence since 1971 it did not participate in defending slavery or establishing Jim Crow-era segregation laws or refusing to support Federal anti-lynching laws like the Democrats. Nor did it take part in massive resistance, active military interventions, or the rigging of the tax codes in favor of gigantic corporations like the Republicans. In fact, the Libertarian Party has never been much more than a political debating club, since its handful of elected officials nationwide are pretty much confined to small municipal city council positions. But the Libertarian Party is inherently more dangerous than the Democrats or the Republicans because it actually challenges the idea of State supremacy in all walks of American life, and because it dares to suggest the possibility that people on balance might be better able to regulate their own affairs than the government. In particular, the LP supports the idea of private property. It is curious to discover that telling the truth about the fact that the State in America and elsewhere has been (and continues to be) the greatest engine of harmful discrimination, and visualizing a society in which such differences would be handled ... differently but also justly, is so dangerous that anonymous commenters feel threatened enough to take segments out of an ineffective political party's platform and insist they represent some sort of loyalty oath. Moreover, to insist that an outsider gets to use a political platform (you wonder how many of the millions of Dems and GOPers have the slightest idea what their platforms advocate, but no matter) as the arbiter of who can call himself or herself a Libertarian, a Republican, or a Democrat.

4) I belong to a labor union, specifically the American Association of University Professors. Anyone who knows history should understand that labor unions in the American past have been responsible for violence and even racism. They have often failed to accept or champion causes of gender equity. They have been conclusively shown to engage in corrupt politics. All of those workplace safety, child labor, and employee benefit things aside, labor unions are clearly the next worst thing (besides the Republicans) to the Nazi Party. Even my own union, the AAUP, was silent during the 1928 purge of homosexual students and professors from Harvard University. I hang my head in shame that I have chosen to beling to such an offensive organization that is also at odds with many of the principles of the Libertarian Party. Go figure: I must not only be one inconsistent son of a bitch, but an intellectual whore as well.

5) I work for an employer that does not recognize gay partners, and that clearly (by Federal regulation) discriminates in favor of certain applicants for positions. That would be my HBCU [historically Black college/university) Delaware State University. You see, the Federal government makes HBCU a legal status which can only be maintained by have at least a 63.5% ethnic minority population. Wow. I work for a State-funded organization that says we will never allow more than one-third of our students to be white. I am really feeling the urge to slit my wrists.

6) I have worked for an organization of the Federal government that is synonymous for trampling the civil rights of all Americans: the Department of Homeland Security. We should ignore the fact that I was hired specifically to teach State and Local Preparedness Officers the limits of their authority and why the US Constitution should govern their actions. I took money several years ago from DHS, and that makes me culpable for every time you have to take off your shoes to get on an airplane.

7) I was an Eagle Scout. Oh, the horror of it. I belonged to, and accepted awards from, and have allowed my son and my grandson to participate in an organization that does discriminate against gays. The fact that I have consistently worked to have that organization change that policy, and the fact that most local organizations of the Boy Scouts with whom I have ever been associated do not implement that policy is immaterial. At age eleven I should have known that it was an immoral, Hitler-Youth-like organization, and I should have spit on those neckerchief-wearing jackbooted thugs.

8) Over the years, at various times, I have contributed money and taken out memberships in organizations as varied and despicable as Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the National Rifle Association, the Organization of American Historians, Doctors without Borders, the Association of the US Army, the National Council for the Social Studies, the SPCA, the Fraternal Order of Police, Outright Libertarians, the American Library Association, the Avalon Hill Wargamers' Association, the YMCA [that "C" still stands for Christian, you know], the United Way, and the American Civil Liberties Union. I am sure that a detailed examination of each of these organizations will reveal dark histories of genocide, oppression, and general anti-American behavior.

Here, of course, is the problem: the only way to avoid belonging to organizations that you may disagree with in part is to disengage and claim the vapid moral superiority of not belonging to anything. Otherwise, any twit can come along and suggest that your membership card invalidates any other political or social opinion you might have. Or they can feel empowered to go look up lines from that organization's constitution, creed, or platform to insist from the safety of their trolling anonymity that you can't be trusted because--gasp!--you once belong to an organization which entertained thoughts they don't consider to be politically correct.

This is essentially a fatuous cop-out against actually participating in society, because all such participation requires interaction, and neither people nor organizations ever change unless you are willing to associate with, interact with, and help them change. And since most of the advances that will be made are tiny, local, and virtually invisible to the high-minded commenters who proclaim themselves superior to those who actually become involved, your life and positions can be written off as a hypocritical waste.

Shorter version for those who prefer to hide their own inaction with their anonymity: bite me.