May 09, 2014

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words...

Timothy Birdnow

Michelle Obama schools us all on how to deal with kidnapping terrorists.
http://dailycaller.com/2014/05/08/selfiesagainstslavers/

Funny, I didn't know she had children living in Nigeria...

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Curry Clocks Climate Kooks

Timothy Birdnow

Judith Curry tears the White House propotanda National Climate Assessment Report a new polar vortex.

From Climate Etc.:

"My main conclusion from reading the report is this: the phrase ‘climate change’ is now officially meaningless. The report effectively implies that there is no climate change other than what is caused by humans, and that extreme weather events are equivalent to climate change. Any increase in adverse impacts from extreme weather events or sea level rise is caused by humans. Possible scenarios of future climate change depend only on emissions scenarios that are translated into warming by climate models that produce far more warming than has recently been observed.

Some of the basic underlying climate science and impacts reported is contradictory to the recent IPCC AR5 reports. Pat Michaels and Chip Knappenberger have written a 134 page critique of a draft of the NCADAC report [link].

Even in the efforts to spin extreme weather events as alarming and caused by humans, Roger Pielke Jr. has tweeted the following quotes from the Report:

* "There has been no universal trend in the overall extent of drought across the continental U.S. since 1900″
* "Other trends in severe storms, including the intensity & frequency of tornadoes, hail and
damaging thunderstorm winds, are uncertain”
* "lack of any clear trend in landfall frequency along the U.S. eastern and Gulf coasts”
* "when averaging over the entire contiguous U.S., there is no overall trend in flood magnitudes”

As a I wrote in a previous post on a draft of the report, the focus should be on the final Chapter 29: Research Agenda, which outlines what we DON’T know. Chapter 28 Adaptation is also pretty good. Chapter 27 Mitigation is also not bad, and can hardly be said to make a strong case for mitigation. Chapter 26 on Decision Support is also ok, with one exception: they assume the only scenarios of future climate are tied to CO2 emissions scenarios."


End excerpt.

Curry is no fire-breathing dragon slayer but rather a scientist who seeks middle ground - a lukewarmer. Her scathing criticism of this "report" should carry great weight in the scientific community - and among journalists. Sadly, the former have become grant whores and the latter were, are, and probably will be for a long time bot stupid and partisan. Don't expect much attention paid to Curry.

Her final question is classic:

The big question is whether the big push by the White House on climate change will be able to compete with this new interview with Monica Lewinsky

No indeed!

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HUD Looks for Housing Discrimination for LGBT


Timothy Birdnow

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is planning to focus group LgBT people to determine if their is bias in rental housing for this class.

According to the Washington Free Beacon:
http://freebeacon.com/issues/feds-to-hold-focus-groups-for-lgbt-renters/


"The department posted a 30-day notice in the Federal Register on Monday, explaining its intention to interview 60 LGBT potential renters and 15 heterosexual renters, and document their experiences in big cities.

"The department is conducting this study as part of a larger effort to study housing discrimination,” the notice said. "As part of that research, the department would like to learn more about the process that people use to search for housing.”

"Specifically, we are interested in the manner in which people identify themselves as lesbian, gay, or transgender when searching for rental housing,” HUD said. "The full project is to conduct in-person testing for lesbian and gay people in at least two major metropolitan rental markets and transgender people in at least one market.”

End excerpt.

I have worked in in the real estate rental market for over 16 years and have never had someone go out of their way to identify their sexual or gender preferences. I have had a few applicants tell me they were gay, and that was primarily to explain their requirements (a one bedroom apartment for two people, for example.) Nobody just blurts out "I'm gay" much less "I'm transgendered". That happened to me only one time, when a tenant called looking for another apartment and said "I just had a sex change operation" to which I merely grunted in acknowledgement; what is there to say? Congratulations?

That was the only time it came up. And there really is no reason for it to come up; the law is quite clear in how this sort of thing is to be handled. You treat a transgendered person in the same manner you would treat anyone else. It isn't something that requires any guidance, and it is not something that normally impinges on ones business practice. We do have the Fair Housing laws, and those laws are tested on a regular basis by agents of the government.

And yet HUD wants to push the issue. According to the Free Beacon:

"One of the questions HUD seeks to answer is "how would you signal in a conversation with a landlord that an individual, as opposed to a couple, was LGBT?”

End excerpt.

Why? It's not enough to maintain privacy and receive equal treatment, but now we must celebrate someone's particular situation. Why spend millions of dollars (the tab for this little program is $3 million for phase 1 and $2 for phase 2 for the LGBT research alone - the total program cost since 2012 is $22 million) to learn what has already been recorded by government testers?

So why are they doing this?

Why did Harold Hill campaign against a pool hall in River City Iowa in The Music Man"; yessir, we got trouble! But happily our hero Barack Obama will have the answer!

The Left is gearing up for a major push in this area, the next "civil rights" struggle, intended to make gender specifics a thing of the past. The Brave New World they seek will be a place where the individual gets to be his own god, where a man clicks his heels together three times and says "I want to be a little girl" and Viola! Her fondest dream has come true. A world where the will triumphs over the tyranny of reality. Where science serves as the new high priest for the god of Man and Womyn.

Do not believe for a moment it will stop at LGBT; the Left will keep adding to that list. Bestiality will come to it, as will incest, as will eventually pedophilia. Brick by brick the liberals will dismantle the foundation of morality, ever eager to "free" the human condition from any and all restraints.

Studies like this one are designed to give ammunition to the activists for future battles. The "researchers" know that LGBT tenants will complain bitterly of their treatment no matter what; they know that what they are doing is outside of the norm and salve their own consciences by directing their pain outward. There will be much talk of subtle discrimination, meaning none that is actionable and yet it will be too much, according to the Progressives. There will be a push for new laws and regulations. In the end not just tolerance but celebration will be demanded of others.

Rights do not obligate positive actions from others - that is a privilege. A right comes from Nature and Nature's God. If someone is willfully denying Nature or God's will for their lives (such as their sex) can it be said to be a right?

That doesn't matter to the liberals, who see freedom as absolute, unrestrained by any higher authority. Man is the measure of all things in their view, and if a sixty year old construction worker wants to be a 9 year old girl, or pretend he is an infant, or wants to marry his sister, then who are we to judge? This is "freedom" to the left.



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Gays "come out" for Chick-fil-A

Jack Kemp

The New York Post had a two page feature today on gays who go to Chick-fil-A, even as some of their fellow gays protest the stores.

The first story featured a large photo of a transvestite gay standing in front of a suburban New Jersey Chick-fil-A, talking about how "Peppermint" (that's his name in that community) feels no guilt about going to buy food at the famed chain owned by a practicing Christians. Apparently the store hasn't attempted to refuse service to "Pepperment" either, although it is fairly obvious that this person appears as a rather "big girl."

And there was good news for all New Yorkers, as the article also said:

BEGIN QUOTE

And now that the Georgia-based chain is entering the NYC market in a big way, gay Chick-fil-A fanatics are facing a serious dilemma.

The company announced last month that for the first time it will expand into the city with stand-alone locations. By the end of 2014, the country will have 108 new Chick-fil-A locations, "a good chunk of them” in New York City, according to a report in USA Today.


END QUOTE

Wow. I may report in the future about a newly opened Chick-fil-A closer to where I live in New York.

One gay man interviewed by the name of Dan Cathy used to go to the only Chick-fil-A in New York City (until this upcoming expansion), a counter located on the ground floor of a NY University dorm (it's open to the public and I've eaten there). Cathy said that his gay friends called him "the worst gay in the world" for eating there. Apparently his friends never heard of some gay people who have committed murder in the U.S. or the gay members of the 1930s Nazi S.A. Like many young people of any sexual orientation, they apparently think that World History began with the first cell phones in the 1980s - and if it isn't on CNN or Jon Stewart's show on Comedy Central, it didn't happen.

You can read the rest online, if you want to. In a city where people tolerate papers on newsstands written in over fifty languages and where I've seen an Italian pizzeria next to Chinese restaurant next to a Jewish-owned jewelry store - a city where I once saw a black woman eating matzo ball soup at the Second Avenue Delicatessen - there seems to be an outbreak of tolerance among those who aren't professional political grievance mongers.

UPDATE: Tea Party Nation reader Reader Kristin Fecteau pointed out that "Dan Cathy" is the President of Chick-fil-A and not the name of a gay patron. I copied the Post piece which appears to be in error. I regret the mistake.

End

Dana Mathewson has this to say:

Just to put my $.02 in, Jack knows my "bona fides" as far as contact with the gay community by virtue of my (and my wife's) involvement with the theatre. We've both made a large number of friends who work in this venue, many of them gay, and one thing I'll say for the gays is that, just about to a man (or whatever) they are great appreciators of good food. Many whom I know can -- and will at the drop of a hat -- go to their kitchen and produce a splendid gourmet meal, and serve it to you with great delight.

I don't find it odd that such people would go to Chick-fil-A, as opposed to, say, Arby's (with their made-up mystery meat) or Hardee's with their toxic waste; or one of the many outfits serving up meals with a week's supply of calories and grease in one bag. Anyone who has sampled the goodies at Chick-fil-A knows the high quality of the "product."

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Politics is politics, but a tasty meal trumps lots of things.

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May 08, 2014

Drone Smashes into Skyscraper in St. Louis - Too Late to Kill Tim!

Timothy Birdnow

You missed me - nya, nya!
http://stlouis.cbslocal.com/2014/05/08/drone-strikes-downtown-st-louis-building/

But the drone struck the building where I had my wedding reception 20 years ago.

Too little too late for the black ops guys!

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HUD Looks for Housing Discrimination for LGBT at American Thinker

Timothy Birdnow


I have a blogpost up at American Thinker this morning. I discuss a research project by HUD to find evidence of discrimination against LGBT people. Considering the testing already done by government agents one must ask, what is the point?

My answer at AT:

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Medicare Mayhem in Missouri

Jack Kemp forwards this, and asks my homegrown Missouri opinion:

http://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/ozarks/2014/05/06/shouting-protestors-shut-state-senate/8765497/

Shouting protestors shut down Senate, some arrestedJonathan Shorman

JEFFERSON CITY – For about an hour Tuesday morning, Medicaid expansion demonstrators shut down the Senate, shouting and praying as police led them away.
Twenty-three people were arrested in a demonstration that involved more than a hundred protestors.
Though not technically recessed, the Senate was described as "at ease" as shouts of "Medicaid expansion! Do it now!" drowned out debate on the floor.

"Missouri Senate expand Medicaid, bring dignity, do your jobs!" the demonstrators shouted.

Capitol Police began removing protestors a few minutes after the protest began. Several senators remained on the floor through the demonstration.

Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, sat at his desk and appeared to be reading.

"This is the people's house!" the protestors shouted as they were led out.

The demonstration came after a rally of faith-based organizations in favor of Medicaid expansion.
It took about 15 minutes for Capitol Police to remove the protestors, but singing and chants from just outside the chamber could be heard in the Senate for several more minutes afterward.
The protest began at 11:30 a.m. and the Senate resumed business about 12:20 p.m.

Department of Public Safety spokesperson Mike O'Connell said those arrested were not handcuffed and were not taken to Capitol Police headquarters.

The arrested were checked for active warrants, O'Connell said. None of the arrested had warrants.

"Everyone was peaceful and cooperative. Any decision as far as an actual charge would be up to the county prosecuting attorney," O'Connell said.

Protestor Marla Marantz of Springfield told the News-Leader the demonstration was meant to make the voices of those in favor of expansion heard.

"We are trying to be heard. And we wanted to demand that moral leadership and demand that human dignity be placed at the center of public life and we have people dying every day because we have not expanded Medicaid," Marantz said.

Sen. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, who has come out in support of a version of expansion, tweeted: "It's incredibly frustrating, after all the work I've put in to solve the Medicaid problem, to be sunk by the very people I'm trying to help."

Senate President Pro Tem Sen. Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, was presiding over the Senate when the demonstration began.

"We deal with very serious and sometimes contentious issues which stir people's passion in the chamber and outside of the chamber. At the end of the day, I don't think disrupting the Senate from conducting business, whatever bill we're on, is a good tactic," Dempsey said.

If Missouri expands Medicaid up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, it will become eligible for increased federal funding to pay for about 90 percent of the cost of expansion.

Republicans have been either hesitant about or opposed to expansion, expressing concerns about growing government and the ability of the federal government to keep its funding promises.
Organizer Andrew Kling said lawmakers needed a wake-up call. He gave reporters copies of a letter he said had been sent to all senators explaining the demonstration.

"We believe it is our role as citizens and faith leaders of this state to hold you accountable to this sacred covenant," the letter says.

The Rev. Molly Gordon of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia participated in the demonstration.
She did not answer directly when asked if further protests were planned or if a similar demonstration is planned for the House. But she appeared to hint that further action may be taken.

"We will not rest until dignity has been moved to the center of public life," Gordon said.

End

NOTES FROM TIM:

First, the "religious leaders" mentioned in the article are more along the lines of Al Sharpton than of Joel Osteen, and they were indulging in a purely liberal activist exercise.

Second, the reason they went to the Capitol to indulge in this sort of political theatre is because the Missouri legislature just overrode a veto by Gov. Jay Nixon and passed a modest tax cut.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch gives the details:

"In five annual steps beginning in 2017, the bill will cut the state’s top personal income tax rate to 5.5 percent from 6 percent and provide a new 25 percent deduction for business income reported on individual returns.

The cuts will be implemented only if state general revenue grows by at least $150 million a year compared with the high-water mark of the previous three years."


End excerpt.

Expanding Medicaid is a dubious proposition in Missouri anyway; the voters passed both prop C and prop e banning the implementation of Obamacare under any circumstance, and the legislature would have to thwart the will of the People to do this. (Granted RINO former U.S. Senator Kit Bond has sold his soul and is lobbying for this expansion, but he has nothing to lose politically.)

Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder explains his oppositiion:

"The Medicaid expansion is unaffordable. It is unworkable. It will break the state’s bank, fiscally, and we are not going to do it.”

End quote.

The Medicaid expansion is clearly a back-door way to implement Obamacare, something Missourians do not want.

So the Left had to go to their old playbook and pull out some loud protests from "religious leaders" to suggest that the refusal of the legislature is somehow immoral and to perhaps frighten some of the representatives - something easy to do with Missouri Republicans, who tend to RINO status.

And so the activists invaded the chamber and hollered and chanted and made pests of themselves.

I suspect little will come of this; the public HATES Obamacare.

I should know; I am stuck with it. My company canceled our health insurance after prices skyrocked, and I was forced to go to the exchange. There are only two companies operating in Missouri now (whatever happened to Choice and Competition?) and one of them is my former insurer Anthem Blue Cross. But it is a shell of the plan we had, and is not working with most of the big providers in town. I had no choice but to go to Coventry 1, and they have been dreadful thus far. I pay about twice what I paid out of pocket, and can only afford it because of the subsidy.It takes at least an hour on hold to get through to a representative. My deductible went up to $7,500, my benefits went down, ER visits up to $500 a pop, drug costs up considerably (my insulin doubled in price.) It is a charlie foxtrot of a plan, but I had absolutely no choice in the matter.

Gee, thanks Democrats!

If the Medicaid expansion would occur I would be livid at the state reps.

I suspect the RINO Republicans know this, and are too afraid to balk on this particular topic. But it means the Liberals in Missouri will scream bloody murder, and so will the major metropolitan newspapers across the state.

Should be interesting.

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Comment at AT about Rutgers

Jack Kemp

I posted this following comment to the blog piece "Rude Behavior at Rutgers" at American Thinker. I've even seen the O'Keefe film about his own protest at Rutgers in his student days there.]

There are two background stories here, one silly and one not silly, although it may appear that way on the surface. Let's get the silly one out of the way first. Rutgers University paid Snooki, the loutish young woman from the cable tv show "Jersey Shore," over $30,000 to speak to their students. You can look it up.

The other story involves James O'Keefe's undergrad days at Rutgers. O'Keefe now heads Project Veritas and is the one who posed as a pimp and snuck a video camera into an ACORN office when he falsely asked the organization to get help in importing underage girls from Central America to work as prostitutes, a request that met with a positive response from ACORN. As an undergrad, O'Keefe and another Irish named friend went to the Rutgers administration to demand, in a false outrage with their hidden video camera, that the University cafeteria stop serving Lucky Charms cereal because the image of the little leprechaun was insulting and demeaning to Irish people. The Rutgers administration caved in to his "demand" - and O'Keefe later publicly exposed his hoax, I believe the video is at the Project Veritas website and probably at YouTube. This revelation caused an embarrassed Rutgers administration to once again start selling Lucky Charms cereal in their student cafeteria. O'Keefe showed how fearful the administration was and how undiscerning they are in analyzing what is important and what is trivial - and what actually is anti-ethnic bias.

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Where is the Rehabilitation for “Racists”?

By Selwyn Duke

For decades liberals have lobbied against punishment and for rehabilitation. The argument was that a mugger or murderer was just a victim of his environment, someone caught in the crosshairs of bad nurturing and neighborhood. Accountability is unwarranted because the person bears no responsibility: he knew not what he did. And so successful was this movement that our penal system was largely reorganized based on the rehabilitation model. Why, I’ve even argued with people who insisted that "punishment doesn’t work” (apparently, they’d never heard of Singapore, caning and virtually zero crime).
So, question: where are the calls for rehabilitation, as opposed to punishment, for "racists” such as Clippers owner Donald Sterling?

And the rehabilitation mentality’s absence isn’t just apparent in the social ostracism and career destruction visited on those accused of the One Liberal Deadly Sin of "racism”*.
(*Some exceptions may apply.)

It isn’t even just apparent in the social persecution of supposed "haters” in general, from Brendan Eich to the Boy Scouts to devout Christians.

Just consider leftism-disgorged "hate-crime” law. It proves ever so explicitly that, somehow, liberals have discovered the utility of punishment; after all, they will justify this legislation by saying that since some crimes target whole communities, they’re so destructive that a message must be sent. It appears that when their own ideological ox is being gored, the people who authored the atheist version of "the Devil made him do it” want Devil’s Island.

A good example is Donald Sterling. It’s not enough that he has had his reputation destroyed, been fined $2.5 million and been "banned for life” by the National Bolsheviks Association. There are people who want newspapers to stop accepting his ads. And the bigoted Al Sharpton — proving hypocrisy knows no bounds — had actually said that the Clippers should be disbanded. Yes, and maybe we should adopt the North Korean model of purging Sterling’s family and friends, too. But how much punishment is enough? How many pounds of flesh will sate the rapacious and blood-stained leftist palate? Would only a gulag and a long, slow, painful death suffice for the world’s Sterlings?

None of this is a surprise if you understand that liberals don’t operate based on principles, but feelings; in keeping with this, liberalism isn’t an ideology. It is a process. Even Marxism has a vision for how society should be (unrealistic though it is), but liberals do not. The only consistent definition of liberalism is "a desire to change the status quo,” which means there will always be, without a guiding vision, directionless, unprincipled change and action. Liberals are the children who ever fight the parents simply because that is the nature of the brat, and they do this even when yesterday’s liberals have become the parents.

How does this relate to punishment? A person operating on principle, on a vision, will try to tame his emotion and say: here’s the crime, here’s what justice dictates, so here is the proportionate punishment. But with liberals there is no justice — it’s "just us” as they’re governed by the shifting sands of convenience. Their feelings tell them that they hate the transgressor and that they want revenge, and it’s never enough to satisfy them viscerally. It’s as with the feeling of hunger: no matter how much you eat, there’s always another appetite mere hours away.

This governance by emotion helps explain why "*Some exceptions may apply.” It sheds light on why liberals haven’t made a federal case out of Bellville, NJ, Democrat mayoral candidate Marie Strumolo Burke, who lamented proposed tax-rate changes and was  HYPERLINK "http://dailycaller.com/2014/04/30/media-refuses-to-identify-party-affiliation-of-new-jersey-democrat-caught-in-racist-rant-audio/" caught on audio exclaiming, "This is gonna be a f*****g n****r town!” It illuminates why they did nothing when then NBA owner Jay-Z threw a 2010 party in which  HYPERLINK "http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2014/05/nba-hypocrisy-black-nba-owner-held.html" no whites were allowed. It even explains why Sterling, whose views were long known, received not only a special dispensation but also acclaim and awards from the left. As part of their political phalanx, liberals don’t hate Burke; they don’t hate bigoted blacks such as Jay-Z; they don’t even hate rich, old white men who pay their dues and pay off the cause. And disconnected from Truth and thus having "situational values,” it’s easy for libs to live in a world of rationalization. Just give them plausible deniability in their own minds, so, as Mark Cuban once said about Sterling, they can shrug off the sin as the eccentricities of a fellow who "plays by his own rules.” But don’t you dare out yourself if you’re a white guy. Don’t become a liability to the cause. It’s as if the mistake isn’t the act (at least if you’re one of the initiated) — the mistake is getting caught.

But with those who aren’t part of their phalanx, liberals will hate, hate, hate; they will hunger for vengeance and, since vengeance never eliminates hate (only forgiveness does), there is never an end to their retribution.

To be clear, I’m not saying that outrage over "racism” is always mere artifice. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s reminiscent of medieval heresy accusations, which could be leveled against an individual by vindictive people with an axe to grind. But much of the time if not most, the anger is real.
It’s just selectively triggered.

In rare cases, the transgression itself may be enough to induce the emotional response. Most of the time, however, it’s some combination of transgression+transgressor+situation. Transgressor can negate transgression, as when a black person makes a bigoted remark; or transgressor can magnify transgression, as when a white Republican makes a corresponding remark. If a white Democrat or Democrat enabler does, transgressor status plus a situation in which you somehow maintain that plausible deniability gets you by. If it’s a wealthy, powerful black man whose success is necessary for the cause, as with Barack Obama, well, then you’re bulletproof. Then again, if you’re a wealthy, powerful white man whose failure is necessary for the cause, as with George Allen and " HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macaca_%28term%29" macaca,” you’re history.

This isn’t to say that most liberals are fully conscious of what animates them. Self-awareness is often lacking among man, and this is especially true among philosophically dysfunctional men (who we today often call liberals). All most leftists know when spewing venom at a supposedly "racist” conservative is that they hate the person, and they assume it’s only because of his transgression. Living situational lives where everything is compartmentalized, they generally don’t know what truly drives them or consider, at the moment they’re wallowing in hatred, that in the past they’ve reacted very differently to liberals in the same boat.

Of course, another factor is that liberals don’t view these transgressions the way a normal person would. They often "feel” — "think” would be the wrong word because, again, leftists generally operate emotionally — that a black’s or liberal’s uttering of a racial remark is of a very different moral species than when a white conservative does so. A black has a right to such sentiments because of the "legacy of slavery.” As for a white liberal, it was perhaps just a weak moment, a slip of the tongue; after all, the person has proven his credentials with his public face as a good leftist foot soldier. If a white conservative says the same thing, however (which never seems nearly as common), it just reflects the deep-seated bigotry that you have to know resides in his dark soul.

Going even deeper, understand that this accords with liberals’ favored reality-denying modern isms.  HYPERLINK "http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nominalism" Nominalism states there is nothing that objectively makes both a tiger and a buff tabby "cats,” categorically speaking — we just happen to view them that way. Likewise, a normal person may see two bigoted statements or two acts of punishment as occupying the same category, but there is, objectively speaking, no such thing as a category called "bigoted statements” or "acts of punishment.” Such classifications only exist in our minds, so we can assign these labels as we see fit. And in deference to relativism, which boils down to the notion that there’s no right or wrong, neither punishment nor rehabilitation can be inherently good or bad, and consistency can be no better than inconsistency.

At bottom, this is how devout leftists view the world. Subscribing to the Protagorean proposition "Man is the measure of all things” and the apocryphal one "Might makes right,” when they win culture wars and take control, they make themselves the measure of all things. Perhaps the best characterization of their philosophy is occultist Aleister Crowley’s formulation, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”

And what they wilt do is persecute you. Remember that, nice-guy conservatives, the next time you want to fight them using Queensbury Rules.

HYPERLINK "mailto:selwynduke@optonline.net"Contact Selwyn Duke, HYPERLINK "https://twitter.com/SelwynDuke"follow him on Twitter or log on to HYPERLINK "http://selwynduke.com"SelwynDuke.com

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May 07, 2014

Killing Bill O'Reilly

Timothy Birdnow

Liberals are strange critters; they will devote their lives to something that they don't even like in order to kill it. We see this in religion in particular, with Marxists infiltrating the Church, pushing Liberation Theology or whatnot. We also see it in academia in the poorly entitled "religious studies" in which people who dislike Christianity do works of "scholarship" intended to cut the underpinning of traditional faith.

Take Candida Moss. MOss is a professor of religious studies at Nostradame, er, Notre Dame, and her specialization is the early Church. Moss haargued in the past that there was no real persecution of Christians by the Romans for instance, a claim hotly disputed by others. She also rails continually against "the religious right".

She has written a slam on Bill O'Reilly's book Killing Jesus, taking O'Reilly to task for his "five mistakes".

So what are they?

Here criticisms are:

1. Not everything Roman historians tell you is true.

2. Paul was not a Christian.

3. The Pharisees were not self-righteous bloviators.

4. Jesus was/wasn’t political.

5. History isn’t just a word, it’s a discipline.

She is profoundly wrong on all points.

First, historians (something she is not) DO utilize the exact same source documents as O'Reilly cited. If madam Moss would care to suggest any better sources, but she fails to do so. Yes, any good historian tries to balance sources, but they first and foremost use sources as close to the time as possible. One can scant fault O'Reilly for doing this. She would fault him if he didn't.

The second point is ludicrous; Paul not a Christian? Here Moss shows she is not even at graduate level knowlege with this bit of sophistry. Paul was baptised. Paul argued to relax the Judaic Law to allow Gentiles into the faith without first becoming Jews. Paul did not follow Kosherate Law, but ate what the Gentiles ate. Is that the way of a devout Jew? Her only argument is that Paul never used the word Christian But Christians didn't start calling themselves that for a while; it first appears in the Bible in Acts of the Apostles, something written after Paul's letters. And why would Paul use that term in his letters?

Oh, and when Paul spoke to Agrippa the latter exclaimed "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian".

If Paul isn't a Christian than the Pope isn't Catholic. This is monstrous dissembling.

Her third claim, that the Pharisees were not bloviating legalists and hypocrites is in contrast with the Biblical accounts. Jesus calls them hypocrites on more than one occasion. He also condemned their legalism, for instance in his story of the good Samaritan where a pharisee passed by an injured man because he didn't want to become ritually impure by helping the fellow who had been robbed. The Scribes and Pharisees also criticized Jesus for curing people on the Sabbath.

If anyone should care to bother, the Talmud is a nigh unto endless list of rules of conduct, covering every imaginable behavior. It was the province of the Scribes and Pharisees.

If that doesn't stand for legalism I do not know what does.

So, Moss dismisses the Bible and the Talmud in favor of revisionist scholarship.

Her forth claim "Jesus was/wasn't political" is just so much chopped logic. Jesus wasn't political but there was a political class who eventually put Him to death. The Gospels are rife with politics - something largely condemmed, I might add. Jesus Himself was not a political figure, although His teachings had profound political implications. Moss simply ignores such distinctions here.

Her final criticism is no criticism at all; OF COURSE O'REilly omits some things. How can he not with such a sweeping topic?

No doubt there is room for criticism of O'Reilly's book (he is not a professional afterall) but THIS is the best they can do? Moss, like all good liberals, cannot allow a conservative interpretation to trip up their hard-fought efforts to uproot traditional Christianity and replace it with a social gospel.

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Genesis of the Russo-Ukrainian Crisis

Timothy Birdnow

Too many Americans pay scant attention to world events. It is sad but true; we only follow what impacts our immediate affairs, and so often we are puzzled by the ebb and flow of world events. The Ukrainian Crisis is one such example; most people think it came out of a vacuum, that Putin one day just decided to slice off a big chunk of Ukraine. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reality is that this is a crisis with a long history, one steeped in carefully thought-out strategic moves.

Russia has lots of oil and natural gas. And, due to the intense cold of Siberia, Russia cannot stop production on these wells or they freeze up. This poses a problem for the Russians, who cannot simply reduce supply to buttress their prices (like the Arabs can do in their oil and gas rich realms.) So the Russians are as much a slave to their energy production as are their customers, and their economy is primarily based on energy production. Nobody buys cars or electronics from Russia; the tradition of shoddy workmanship, born of the decades of Bolshevik rule, remains firmly planted in the Russian character. The Russians are smart, but are not technologically minded except in weaponry, and the best and brightest go into the weapons industry or the oil and gas industries there. There isn't a whole lot of research on those things that actually add to the quality of life. Commercial research is athe province of the West, particularly the United States.

So Russia is stuck with the fossil fuell industry.

And they are in a good position to benefit from it; including their own oil they sit at the crossroads between Asia and Europe, and oil and gas not shipped on big tankers has to move overland through pipelines either in Russia or in a Russian ally - principally Iran.

Which is why the Russians invaded Georgia in 2008; the U.S. was cultivating Georgia and others in the region (like Azerbaijan) to run pipelines around Russian and Iranian territories, thus undercutting their monopoly on European energy. One of the first acts of the war by the Russians was the bombing of the BTC pipeline.

Now, Ukriane poses a special challenge to Russia; once considered a part of Russia proper the nation diverged during the Mongol occupation as it was a buffer zone between Mongol territory and the West. In Russian it is pronounced Oo-cry-ee- nya. Oo means by or near, a Kry is a border or edge, and the modifier at the end makes it into "borderland". So Ukraine means the borderland, and it was not quite Asiatic and not quite European in no small part because of Mongol occupation. (The Mongols went through every so often and decimated the place to keep it a wasteland and thus not an enemy.) When Russia finally broke the yoke of the Golden Horde they adopted the despotic techniques of their former overlods. Ukraine, which had been a nascent democratic monarchy, was quickly pulled into the orb of Muscovy.

And there she remained for many moons.

Ukraine has been restive since the fall of the Soviet Union and her independence, and she seeks greater communion with the West. Russia doesn't like that; this is the Bear's particular playground.

Where the old Soviet Union was interested in Ukraine simply because it was a neighbor who could theoretically threaten her, Putin is looking at this with a broader lense; Ukraine is a portal for oil and gas to the West. And, in typical Russian fashion, Ukraine is also a potential base of operations for a Western invader. Russians always think about that possibility; their whole existence has revolved around invaders strolling in from either Europe or the Steppe.

What precipitated this crisis was a broken contract.here.

What has the Russians on the warpath is the potential for hydraulic fracturing in Ukraine. The Ukrainians don't have much in the way of oil or gas in the conventional sense, but they do have good prospects for energy production via fracking, and Putin is fit to be tied. And the Ukrainians have been searching out alternative supplies from Slovakia and elsewhere.

In fact, fracking threatens the entire Russian scheme. Europe has found considerable shale gas and oil deposits that can be developed in the future, making Russian energy less attractive. Putin cannot allow this to happen, and he has been a staunch critic of hydraulic fracturing for some time, according to Robert Zubrin.

And so, like any mafiosa, Putin is moving in to muscle his competition. While acting as a champion for the environment he is baring his fangs, making Europe fear on the one hand and feel virtuously ascetic, helping to "save the planet". Europeans are suckers for that approach, after all. Environmentalism is their answer to American Industry.

This is serious as a heart attack, because Putin is not going to allow Russia to become a backwater and yet how can he stop the tide of oil and gas from flowing? He is going to have to be increasingly aggressive to frighten his customers into scotching the chance at energy independence. The stick is going to have to be very large. And he cannot allow any other sources of oil or gas to flow out of the Middle East or Asia, either, without passing through his hands - or the hands of his Iranian allies.

That is why Russia has been the supplier of arms, of nuclear material, of centrifuges and other truck that goes with atomic weaponry to the Iranians. He fears an American invasion of Iran, or something else that would disturb the Russo-Persian alliance. Putin does not care about Iran's acquiring nuclear weapons; this is but one more geopolitical strategy in the grand game of chess he is playing. Sadly, the American opponent is Barack Obama, a man who can scarecely play geopolitical tick tack toe.

This is the sort of thing that could touch off a world war. We live in exceedingly dangerous times.

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May 06, 2014

Guilt, Honor, and Elijah Lovejoy

Printing Press #3 Destroyed



Timothy Birdnow

Honor. Honor once was at the apex of civilized men, the key building block of civilization. Honor was more than just words, more than just a sense of self worth. No, honor was something that permeated the core of decent people. Honor was the code of morality from which sprang individual action. It was something carried inside of the citizenry, something that could not be ignored or dismissed lightly. Honor is a submission to Natural Law, and in the West it found it's expression in the Judeo-Christian heritage and religion.

Honor would move men to their deaths if need be.

And honor - and the tradition upon which it rests - is the bitter enemy of the Left. The Left has always hated the code of honor (chivalry in the Middle Ages) because it is a conservative impulse, a kind of glue that binds society and restrains radical social experimentation. So the Left has labored dilligently to eliminate it, substituting guilt as the controlling mechanism. Guilt is not based on rational thought or Natural Law but rather on a concensus view. It is the perfect egalitarian tool, for it is quite democratic; the majority decides what is guilt-worthy. And by the majority we mean the intelligentsia, who first devise these schemes in academia and then promote them with campaigns to the general public.

Take your pick; moral relativism came during the late '70's and '80's straight from academia. The push for multiculturalism and relativism was concerted and organized, and the mantra "who are we to judge?" repeated endlessly until it stuck. Now nobody in America dares judge anyone, no matter how unnatural they behave. We've seen it with "going green" in recent years; there is a radio psa in which two children are talking and one chides the other for wasting energy in some fashion. The waster is ashamed and embarassed in these psa's, and vows to do better. This is guilting in it's most classic form.

God doesn't care about someone leaving their cell phone plugged in after it reaches a full charge. Neither does "the Universe" if you don't want to acknowledge God. But Liberals do, and they are trying to create a new code of behavior, a new way of looking at things. So they make it a sin.

It is entirely other-centered, whereas honor is something that one carries in himself.

Do you want to see what honor is?

Here is honor. http://www.altonweb.com/history/lovejoy/


Elijah Lovejoy was a Presbyterian Minister from Maine who migrated to the St. Louis area to teach school. Lovejoy's exposure to slavery in Missouri astonished and appalled him, and honor compelled him to act against this evil. He became the publisher of a religious newspaper - the St. Louis Observer - and he chronicled the abuses of slavery and demanded it be ended.

This didn't make him many friends.

He moved his operations to Alton Illinois, about 15 miles north of St. Louis. He was the publisher of the Alton Observer, where he vociferously opposed slavery. (He had seen a slave burned at the stake.)

On the night of November 7, 1837 a mob formed and stormed the offices of the Observer. Lovejoy and his compatriots tried to defend their printing press (those things being very valuable back then) and the mob, denied access to the building, attempted to set it on fire. Lovejoy was shot several times and died, and the mob forced the defenders out. They then smashed the press and threw it into the Mississippi river.

Lovejoy was 35.

This is honor. Lovejoy had everything to lose, and indeed lost his very life, for the sake of his beliefs. He could doubtlessly have saved himself had he moderated his views (as the GOP has done to us in recent years) or he could have given the mob a mea culpa and perhaps walked out of the building. No; his honor was more important to him than his life.

Here is an account of the Lovejoy affair from the Alton Observer:

http://www.altonweb.com/history/lovejoy/ao1.html

Elijah Parish Lovejoy
"a Martyr on the Altar of American Liberty"
1802-1837


As reported in the Alton Observer - November 7, 1837
Night had come to the to of Alton, Illinois and a crowd began to gather in the darkness.

Some of the me. stooped to gather stones. Others fingered the triggers of the guns they carried as they made their way to a warehouse n the banks of the Mississippi River.

As they approached, they eyed the windows of the three-story building, searching for some sign of movement from inside.

Suddenly, William S. Gilman, one of the owners of the building, appeared in an upper window.

"What do you want here?" he asked the crowd.

"The press!" came the shouted reply.

Inside the warehouse was Elijah Parish Lovejoy, a Presbyterian minister and editor of the Alton Observer. He and 20 of his supporters were standing guard over a newly arrived printing press from the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society.

This was the fourth press that Lovejoy had received for his paper. Three others already had been destroyed by people who opposed the antislavery views he expressed in the Observer.

But Lovejoy would not give up.

This time, in an attempt to hide the arrival of the new press, secret arrangements were made. A steamboat delivered the press at 3 o'clock in the morning on November 7, 1837, and some of Lovejoy's friends ere there to meet it.

Moving quickly, they carried the press to the third floor of Gilman's warehouse, but not before they were spotted by members of the mob.

Word of the arrival of the press spread throughout the town all that day. As nightfall approached, mob leaders were joined by men from the taverns, and now the crowd stood below, demanding this fourth press.

Gilman called out: "We have no ill feelings toward, any of you and should much regret to do any injury; but we are authorized by the Mayor to. defend our property and shall do so with our lives." The mob began to throw stones, breaking out all the windows in the warehouse.

Shots were fired by members of the mob, and rifle balls whizzed through the windows of the warehouse, narrowly missing the defenders inside. Lovejoy and his men, returned the fire. Several people in the crowd were hit, and one was killed.

"Burn them out!", someone shouted.

Leaders of the mob called for a ladder, which was put up on the side of the building. A boy with a torch was sent up to set fire to the wooden roof. Lovejoy and one of his supporters, Royal Weller, volunteered to stop the boy. The two men crept out- side, hiding in the shadows of the building. Surpris- ing the mob, they rushed to the ladder, pushed it over and quickly retreated inside.

Once again a ladder was put in place. As Lovejoy and Weller made another brave attempt to overturn the ladder, they were spotted. Lovejoy was shot five times, and Weller was also wounded. Lovejoy staggered inside the warehouse, making his way to the second floor before he finally fell.

"My God. I an shot," he cried. He died almost immediately.

By this time the warehouse roof had begun to burn. The men renmaining inside knew they had no choice but to surrender the press.

The mob rushed into the vacant building.

The press Lovejoy died defending was carried to a window and thrown out onto the river bank. It was broken into pieces that were scattered in the Mississippi River.

Fearing more violence, Lovejoy's friends, did not remove his body from the building until the next morning.

Members of the crowd from the night before, feeling no shame at what thev had done, laughed and jeered as the funeral wagon moved slowly down the street toward Lovejoy's home. Lovejoy was buried on November 9, 1837, his 35th birthday.

End excerpt.

Thanks to Daren Jonescu, whose insights led to this.

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The Supreme Court, Race, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Brian Birdnow

Last week the venerable St. Louis-Post-Dispatch, a once great American newspaper, proved that she is but a shell of her former self. The PD has a long and generally distinguished history including launching the career of Joseph Pulitzer in the 1880s, and in scooping all of the major papers on the disastrous sinking of the RMS Titanic in April of 1912. Today, the PD is the sole daily newspaper in a major metropolitan area, and, as such has no competition to push her to improve and to stay at the top of her game. This column does not however, deal with the beauty of competition and its importance to the free enterprise system. Rather, it deals with the hazards of a single newspaper exercising an editorial monopoly over a major metropolitan area. These hazards include a refusal to engage in reasoned debate, a constant tendency to assassinate the character of those who disagree with them, regularly accusing their opponents of low motives, insisting that their own country has a deplorable history, and, all the while, preening and showing off their own supposed moral superiority.

Simply stated, the PD mouths all of the platitudes common to the American Left, and has become nothing more than a shill for the national Democratic Party. Furthermore, in a manner reminiscent of our dear national leader, the newspaper will not engage in any discourse on current issues. They simply say that the issue has been decided and you are one of the good people or one of the bad people. Their coverage of the Obamacare fiasco is a case in point. The PD declined to do any reportorial work of their own on the issue, and simply accepted White House talking points. Their stock answer to any claims about the effect the ACA was having on real people was to dismiss all of these as "…lies, easily debunked.” Worse yet, the PD actually plagiarized when they reported Washington Post commentator Eugene Robinson’s words, verbatim, in a PD editorial without attribution. This author called them on their journalistic malpractice, and Tony Messenger, the newspaper editor stated that this was not plagiarism, because "…many smart people think this is true, ergo there is nothing wrong with repeating it.” A great newspaper, indeed!

The Post-Dispatch was in rare form last week, attacking the U.S. Supreme Court for voting 6-2 to uphold the state of Michigan’s ban on affirmative action in public universities. In their editorial entitled, "Sotomayor’s Stand” of last week the newspaper stooped, once again, to the low practice of turning all political, legal, and cultural questions into morality plays wherein the forces of goodness and light are those who share the PD view of things, and the forces of error and darkness are those who dare to think differently, which to say, those who disdain the leadership of the Post-Dispatch, and prefer to think for themselves.

As the title of the editorial indicates the PD lauded Justice Sonia Sotomayor, much as she has publicly lauded herself, for rising above "…a modest South Bronx upbringing to a seat on the nation’s highest court…” The newspaper credited the greatness of government mandated affirmative action as the key to Ms. Sotomayor’s success and implied that no minority can hope to succeed in America without overt government assistance. In the PD view of things the only way a minority citizen of the USA can rise from humble origins to a better status is through government mandated favoritism and preference. This would come as a surprise to anyone who actually lived the American Dream and moved up in the world through the tried-and-true method of persistence, diligence and hard work. To suggest, as the PD regularly does, that the only path to success for minority citizens in America is through government mandated affirmative action is paternalism, condescension, and even racism of the worst order. Does the Post-Dispatch really believe that no minority citizens can succeed on their own, without the help of government policies, guided by the PD?

The editorial goes on to remark, "Now the Roberts court, ignoring this nation’s ugly history…is leaving it to the states to decide whether minority populations will have access to public institutions.” Here, the PD allows its liberal slip to show. The Post-Dispatch editors believe, in their heart of hearts, that America is a bad country. They constantly hammer this home in their editorials and slanted news stories, which are full of choice comments like the previous quote. We are harangued that our great republic has "…an ugly history”. We are told that American history is a catalogue of calumnies, and that this is the fault of people who do not think like the editors at the PD, and refuse to accept the leadership of our betters in the prestige media.

This vignette shows a substantial difference between the New Left editors at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the newspaper’s admittedly diminishing number of readers. The reading public does not accept the PD habit of regularly battering our country, and we certainly do not accept, uncritically, the contention that our national history is simply "ugly”. Certainly America has been less than perfect, and we must always strive to improve. However, America has been on the right side more often than not, and we do subscribe to certain ideals, even if we sometimes fall a bit short of these in practice. This is something known as "patriotism”, although that old-fashioned virtue cannot be found in the PD playbook.

The PD editorial on the Michigan case offers a window into the liberal mind at work today. The piece has a heroine, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and two villains, namely Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justice Clarence Thomas. The work slings mud, assassinates the character of the supposed villains, and attributes low motives to anyone who agrees with them. The PD finishes the editorial with the requisite dollop of class and racial hatred, all the while ridiculing those who disagree and nearly bursting their own buttons with unconcealed self-regard and conceit.

While the St. Louis Post Dispatch is, perhaps, an extreme case this same liberal mindset can be seen in most of the metropolitan daily papers today. The liberal columnists at the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Daily Tribune, Boston Globe, and the other major daily papers share the same views, and largely, the same tendency to demonize their opponents. Gone are the "Happy Warriors” of yesteryears journalism, the commentators who had strong opinions, but were willing to listen and give the opposition a fair hearing. The skeptical reader need only consult Dana Milbank, Maureen Dowd, Leonard Pitts, and the Post-Dispatch editor Tony Messenger for confirmation of this assertion. Still, these commentators will shake their heads at election time and wonder out loud: How has our civil discourse become so polarized?



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Andrew Napolitano video -- important!

Dana Mathewson

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=7n2m-X7OIuY

We have an out-of-control government. It doesn't matter how it got that way. Something must be done to rein it in.

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common core, from WaPo, no less

A.J. Cameron

Common Core is designed to control the minds of children. The questions are designed to be nearly impossible to answer, making the children feel inferior. It is akin to breaking a mustang, and the next generations of children will be pack animals for the elites, if Common Core isn't banished!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/05/04/today-was-the-first-day-i-was-ever-ashamed-to-be-a-teacher/?wpmk=MK0000205&clsrd

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May 05, 2014

Bob Shrum Wants to Ban Freedom of Religion

Timothy Birdnow

Bob Shrum, veteran campaign loser for the Democratic Party, pens a call to abolish freedom of religion.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/03/05/how-religious-freedom-is-hurting-everyone-s-freedom.html

Shrum begins his argument by trashing a recently vetoed bill in Arizona that would allow a religious or conscientious objection to "public accomodations". This bill found it's genesis in recent court rulings that demand certain services for protected class customers - particularly gay couples seeking wedding services from christians. Shrum is terrified that a committed Christian should say no to making a gay wedding cake.

Frankly, one must ask why this is so terrible; who wants a cake made by someone who disapproves of you? This actually smacks of slavery, because the baker is not just required to provide a service to an unsuitable client but is in fact required to do a good job or face the wrath of the courts. So the baker is actually being forced to not just produce any cake but a good one. How many gay couples are going to refuse to pay after the wedding, claiming the cake was of poor quality?

Photographers have it even worse; they are going to be required to smile and do an a-1 job. No eye rolling, no smirking, no bad pictures.

But yessir we are going to force people to provide services - and SMILE while you do it!

This is a departure from traditional practices, something created by the Left in the last 50 or so years.

Shrum states:

But the Arizona bill represented something more—the continuation of an overreaching campaign waged in the name of "religious freedom” that has profound implications for the future and fate of a pluralistic America. As E.J. Dionne observed in Commonweal, "the promiscuous resort to conscience objections” threatens "the ongoing effort to balance robust protections for faith groups on the one hand with the need for laws of general application on the other.”

End excerpt.

But there is nothing "promiscuous" about acknowledging what had always been standard business practice. There is actually a Constitutional amendment dealing with freedom of religion, a point that seems lost on Shrum. "Plurality" and gay rights are nowhere mentioned in that document.

Look, we used to exempt Quakers and Amish from military service back in the days of the draft. And it was always understood that religious objections were a valid part of our national culture. But Progressives like Shrum care not a wit about precedent and tradition, much less what a bunch of old white guys had to say. Egalitarianism has become the only social good imaginable.

Shrum goes on to pillory the Catholic Church:

When Notre Dame took its case to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, its attenuated, often-confusing argument was shredded by Judge Richard Posner, a first-rank conservative legal scholar and a Reagan appointee to the bench. Posner told Notre Dame’s lawyer to "stop fencing with me” as the lawyer refused to answer "yes” or "no” to the judge’s questions. Finally came an answer that exposed the essence of the university’s all-but-sham case: Writing a letter to the federal government saying "no” to contraceptive coverage would make Notre Dame "complicit” in the alternative provision of such services by "a third party.” This is Orwellian—no somehow means yes. Posner called the reasoning "trivial”—and rebuked the university’s counsel for "babbling.”

And this seems to go beyond babbling in a legal sense: "Ninety-eight percent of sexually active American Catholic women practice birth control and 78 percent of Catholics think a ‘good Catholic’ can reject the bishops’ teaching…” Thus the official church—except for those pesky nuns at the Catholic Hospital Association—insists on imposing a doctrine on countless non-Catholic employees that most of its own members disdain, and even though the church-affiliated institutions in question don’t have to finance a scintilla of coverage for birth-control services.


End excerpt.

Here Shrum proves himself to be a sneaky lying weasle; he purposely confuses tolerating contraception with subsidizing it. No Catholic organization bans the use of contraception by employees. The Catholic Church's position on contraception is that it is a sin, and Catholics in good standing are not to practice it, but neither does the Church force people to sign pledges or submit to tests to prevent the use of contraception. Nobody will be fired for saying they use an IUD or whatnot. All the Church wants is to be free from coercion by government to fund something that it considers sinful.

IF you can force religious people to subsidize sin, then where does it stop? Will they be forced to pay for euthenasia for the elderly some day? Will they be forced to provide prayer rugs and chapels for Muslims? Will they be forced to provide altars with naked women for Satanists? None of these are any more absurd than forcing the Church to pay for contraception - and RU483 is not even contraception but abortion, as it causes a spontaneous abortion in pregnant women. So the Church is being forced into complicity with an act of murder.

Much spleen has been vented at the Catholic Church for not opposing the Nazis in a strong enough fashion. The Catholic Church, without soldiers or arms, was supposed to have risen up against Hitler and his ovens. (Actually Pope Pius XII - despite being surrounded by both Fascists and later Nazis - quietly assisted many Jews in escaping the camps) and yet, by Shrum's reasoning, they had no right to resist National Socialism; it was the law of the land. What makes the difference is that Nazis wanted less plurality in their socialist paradise whereas men like Shrum want more.

And Catholicism is not a democracy; it matters not if ANYONE is following Church teachings. Those teachings are from God according to catholic beliefs, and people's failure to obey them is their sin, not the sin of the Church. citing statistics on how many Catholics violate their beliefs is hardly grounds for restraining religious freedom.

Shrum states:

This "promiscuous” invocation of religious freedom would deny equal rights to those with different religious convictions—or none. The Arizona law, and similar statutes proposed in other states, would extend the claim to an extreme that logically could sanction discrimination far beyond the LGBT community.

But this is the way it always was until the Left decided that people have the right to anything they want. It only affects people who are demanding something from someone, someone unwilling to provide goods or services. I hate to break it to shrum, but we do not have a fundamental right to do commerce with whosoever we wish.

It happens in international relations all the time; we cannot trade with Cuba, with Iran, and now with Russia. This denial of unlimited commerce is sanctioned by the government so is acceptable to a guy like Shrum.

And why does not unrestrained commerce work both ways? If a provider has to work for anyone, what of the buyer? Liberals indulge their spleen through boycotts all the time. Rush Limbaugh lost a lot of sponsors over his remarks about Sandra Fluke; by Shrum's reasoning those sponsors should be forced to return to Limbaugh or face the wrath of the courts.

What about Chick-filet? How dare these people boycott this company?

It ultimately comes down to the question of whose ox is being gored. Whoever controls the government will be the one to decide.

Which is why there has never been laws forcing businesses to engage in commerce against their will - at least not until the coming of the civil rights legislation.

So now gay couples are the latest beneficiaries of this government egalitarianism. How long before pedophiles, or necrophiles, or bestiality practicioners demand service?

Shrum asks:

Should a hard-line Catholic whose business sells goods and services to the general public be licensed to cite religious conviction in order to turn away a Catholic couple being married outside the church, or one of whose members has been previously married and divorced—both violations of Catholic teaching?

Yes. And the Catholics who are discriminated against have a right to organize a boycott. The market disciplines businesses. Progressives like Shrum refuse to believe this, and demand the intervention of government in every aspect of life.

The notion of flipping these businesses the bird and going to another company never occurs to people like Shrum. But that is precisely how free markets work; people vote with their feet. When Joe's bakery is struggling and Bill's bakery is thriving, won't Joe find his principles a bit more flexible to get people to use his services?

All this at a time when liberals push accomodations for Muslims in public places. Strange; they do not care about Christian or Jewish rights but bend over backwards for the rights of Muslims. I suspect a gay couple would not get any cake from a Muslim baker, and Shrum would just shrug it off.

Shrum goes on to choose the worst case scenarios to argue against religious freedom laws. Well, hard cases make bad law. And furthermore, nobody is going to refuse service to a black man solely because of his race in this day and age; the backlash would bankrupt his business. Shrum seems to believe we are living in the Jim Crow era.

Shrum argues:

. And in both, gays and lesbians can become convenient targets for the fury of the religious right. Conscience clauses have their place: Ministers, rabbis, and priests should not be required to officiate at a same-sex marriage in violation of their faith. Miscarrying this into the commercial sector is another matter altogether. A commercial transaction does not confer ethical approbation on a customer. And nondiscrimination is, or should be, a seamless garment—and discrimination a seamless evil. The Wake Forest Law Review concludes: "The best way to think about the claim that gay marriage requires expanded exemptions from existing [state] laws for religious discriminators is in the larger context of both race and gender…”

Ah, here we go again; the "right wing" is a bunch of misogynistic, atavistic, gay-hating apes, barbarians who would legalize rape of uppity women and lynching. They are natural domestic terrorists. The poor gays and women have to be protected lest they be interred into concentration camps.

I hate to tell this nimrod Shrum, but THERE ARE ALREADY LAWS ON THE BOOKS PROTECTING GAYS AND LESBIANS. These laws protect everyone. They are entirely adequate, and fair. Shrum does not want equality under the law, but rather special privileges for certain classes. And who decides what a gay or lesbian is? With race it is obvious, but at what point does a person qualify as gay? One homosexual incident? A general lifestyle? I don't know about you, but I cannot see the mark placed on gay people designating them as such.

In short, Shrum wants to make special laws for people who self-identify as a certain sexual persuasion. But isn't this exactly what happens with religion? There is no mark on a Catholic. While we may be able to tell with a Jew by making him drop his drawers there are many non-Jews in America who are likewise circumsized. We really don't know.

So the law offers freedom to think and choose as you wish, and offers protections for those choices. Perhaps we should treat gay people in similar fashion. But that isn't the point of any of the proposed protections for gay people; these laws are intended to empower them, to grant them special privileges.

Shrum seems to misunderstand the phrase "Congress shall make no law concerning the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". The Left laws to speak about the "seperation of Church and State" based on the Establishment Clause, so why do we not have a seperation of sex and state? Forcing people to provide services to people who violate our religious beliefs is no different than promoting people because of their sexual identity. Congress is most assuredly establishing one's sexual behavior as grounds for special protective laws.

Here Shrum gets to the nub of it all:

The great question here is whether we can learn to live together as a country in all our increasing diversity.

And the answer is no. That's right, no. America was never intended to be a place of increasing diversity. It never was. A casual glance at the places with very diverse populations shows that strife and warfare are the norm. Look at the Balkans. Look at the Caucasus. Look at Sicily. America was a melting pot "e pluribus unum" out of many one. Our diversity was secondary to our common culture. Now fools like Shrum have come along and they seek to seperate and divide us into groups, and then wonder why there is such animosity. Animosity is the norm for people with little in common competing for the same space. There is a reason why the Austro-Hungarian empire collapsed; too many people who did not like each-other were forced together by the power of arms. Increasing our diversity is another way of saying splitting us up into competing nations.

Ask the Romans how well that worked.

But egalitarianism is the holy grail of the Left, and they are happy to destroy America in the quest. We can be at each-other's throats as long as we are all the same!

Good luck with that.

Religious freedom is a fundamental right, one from Natural Law and God. There is a reason why it was placed in the Constitution but not these other "rights" so beloved of the Left. Sexual, gender, or contraceptive "rights" requires a postive effort on the part of others. It imposes an obligation. A right does not impose an obligation but rather is something carried naturally by the individual. You have a right to not do business with people you chose not to work with. Forcing someone to do business with you imposes an obligation. This is not a right but rather a privilege.

The Left hates religion, seeing it as a force for conservative social order. Shrum is not unique here. The Left will destroy our faith if they have the power.

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Bye Bye Birdies; Evolution of Radiation Resistant Birds?

Timothy Birdnow

Here is an example of shoddy science and shoddy thinking. Scientists writing in Functional Ecology claim that birds living near the Chernobyl nuclear reactor have a higher tolerance for radiation than do birds living near Fukishima - and that this is an example of Natural Selection/

According to The Economist article:

Dr Mousseau and Dr Moller knew from previous work that birds living near Chernobyl have better survival rates than those living near Fukushima, in Japan, where a serious reactor accident happened in 2011. They suspected that was because the Ukrainian birds had had time to evolve resistance. They therefore sent blood and feather samples from 120 birds of 13 species they collected from both high- and low-radiation regions around the defunct reactor at Chernobyl to Dr Galván, who looked for genetic damage in them and also analysed their levels of glutathione, an antioxidant that mops up highly reactive (and therefore harmful) molecules created when radiation hits biological tissues.

In those birds taken from low-radiation zones the average concentration of glutathione was 450 micrograms per gram of body mass; in high-radiation areas it was 725 micrograms per gram. Moreover, the higher a bird’s glutathione level, the lower the amount of genetic damage Dr Galván could spot in its cells. Birds in high-radiation zones, then, seem to have evolved to deal with the threat, just as Darwin would have predicted.


End excerpt.

First, it should be pointed out that birds are able to leave an area that is dangerous for them. Would not those better suited to survive in dangerous radiation not be the ones to congregate there while birds with less resistance would leave?

Natural Selection says that a species mutates at random, and that the random mutation offers a survival benefit so the mutant thrives while the less well adapted of the species die out. But that is not necessarily what is happening here; it may be the birds who are more tolerant of radiation flock around Chernobyl because they can; there has been no actual mutation caused by the radioactivity.

Obviously Chernobyl happened long before Fukushima. The birds would not have time to sort out the dangers yet.

Also, this in no way verifies Darwin's particular version of Evolution; Lamarckian theory says that there is something in the gene that mutates based on environmental pressure, and radiation is indeed environmental pressure. To prove Darwin here the researchers would need to follow the changes in the birds from the beginning of the crisis at Chernobyl - something they have not done. Is it Natural Selection or some other mechanism at work? Nobody except young Earth creationists would deny that species adapt to their environments. The argument has always been about speciation; do new species arise because of random mutations that survive or through some other adaptive mechanism?

And they should follow land-bound creatures rather than just birds; land bound creatures can't escape their environment so will either have to adapt or die. Why did the researchers choose birds?

None of this is answered here.

These researchers need to watch the area around Fukushima closely. They should look for dead birds around the contaminated zone and capture live ones to see what is happening. One cannot conclude Natural Selection is at work based on this particular example.

I do not know how assertive these scientist were in their original paper, but clearly the writers of this Economist article got his ideas from somewhere. In a "publish or perish" world of academic natural selection it becomes too easy to claim certitude to get attention - and money - for your projects. That appears to be what happened here.

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NOAA Quietly Corrects Temp Data; Few Learn of it

Timothy Birdnow

Sierra Rayne debunks claims that July of 2012 was the hottest July on record, as per a press release by NOAA.

The temperature record has quietly been updated.

This is one of the tricks used by the Gang Green, the Global Warming alarmists; they publish something that bolsters the case for thermogeddon, get all manner of press coverage and fill up the pages of Google, then quietly update the record (so as to maintain scientific credibility.) They know that the average person will never learn about the update, but will only come across the claims of "hottest on record" and so believe the lie that is Global Warming.

This only works with a compliant media, and with the complicity of Google, an internationalist and notoriously Progressive organization.

I've been arguing for years that control of the search engines is as dangerous as the Left's control of the television networks in the old days. Liberals dominated network television and were able to shape and disguise the news any way they pleased (and for that matter were able to manipulate the content of regular television programs and even advertising, presenting a monolithically liberal worldview to the public.) Googe and Yahoo are the two major search engines and other engines generally operate along the same parameters. Control what comes up on a Google search and you control the tenor of the debate.

Academic researchers know this, which is why they put out alarmist pablum in big, glossy press releases. Environmental activists jump on board, and the search engines fill up with pages of "the science has now been settled" before any reviewers get a chance to falsify the research. When it is shown to be erroneous there is a mild retraction that may appear four or five pages into the Google search.

Conservatives need to create a major search engine of their own. I wish Koch Industries would take on this project.

Conservatives never seem to grasp the importance of the mechanisms for disseminating information. The Left is ever aware, and they have managed to take the internet from us through search engines and heavy promotion by the legacy media (television, newspapers, etc.) The Conservatives have am radio (which had been on life support before Rush Limbaugh) and some internet websites. Fox News is the only video network that ever gives the Conservative view, and they are not really so much conservative as Establishment Republican.

Until we fight on a level playing field we will continue to lose.

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Captains Uncourageous

By Daren Jonescu (with an afterword from Tim)

"The captain always goes down with the ship." This old seafarer's adage, which has come to have the force of a moral principle, was violated in tragic fashion in South Korea this past week. As investigators and divers try to determine exactly what caused the Sewol to sink, and families and friends mourn the loss of hundreds of souls, the rest of us may benefit by pausing to ask what may be learned from this disaster. On Wednesday morning, April 16, the Sewol, a commercial ferry, neared the final stage of a routine journey from the northern port at Incheon towards the popular tourist island, Jeju, carrying four hundred and seventy-six passengers and crew. Most aboard were students from a high school in Ansan (near Seoul), enjoying their second year class trip to Jeju, a common ritual for Korean high schoolers. For reasons as yet unclear, the ship suddenly began to list. Within minutes, the crew had made a distress call to Jeju, where transcripts show authorities instructed the ship's captain, Lee Joon-seok, to prepare for evacuation immediately. Instead of heeding this rational advice, Captain Lee and his crew told the passengers to remain in their cabins and don life jackets as they tried to right the ship.
For at least thirty minutes after the original distress call, as it became increasingly obvious the ship was capsizing, the crew continued to instruct everyone to remain below, effectively trapping them until gravity and water pressure sealed their fate. More than two hundred and seventy people, most of them students, went down with the ship, and are now presumed dead.

Thus far, we are speaking of fatal incompetence. One crew member among the survivors says he has no memory of ever having trained for an evacuation. Consider that: a ferry with a capacity of nine hundred passengers was being operated by a crew that had not learned how to evacuate the ship; a crew that told people in a sinking ship to remain below until the path from the cabins to the main deck became untraversable due to the severity of the list; a crew that did not release its lifeboats even for the passengers who did have the foresight to disobey instructions and jump overboard; a crew among whom a surviving member has since said there was no time, in that hour of trying to save the ship, to read an emergency manual and find out what to do.

But practical incompetence is one thing; moral incompetence is quite another. I have recounted the testimony of a couple of the Sewol's surviving crew members. That last sentence ought to send a shiver up your spine. At least two hundred and seventy people died at sea, in part as a result of actions taken, and instructions given, by Captain Lee and his crew. Nevertheless, Captain Lee and a substantial number of that crew are alive and on land today -- they were, by all reports, among the first to jump ship, and the first to be rescued by fishermen and coast guard boats arriving at the scene.

"The captain always goes down with the ship." In practical terms, this adage is a simple embodiment of a trait that ought to be just as simple, but which has been rendered complex to the point of obscurity by modern sophistry, relativism, and moral infantilism, namely honor. This is plain for anyone to understand: the captain is responsible for his ship and its passengers. He is obliged, by the responsibility he has voluntarily assumed, to share the fate of those under his care. If he has any reason to believe human beings remain in jeopardy on his vessel, he must continue to take action aimed at their survival, before pursuing his own. In this case, Captain Lee not only had reason to believe people remained in jeopardy, but he also knew that he had a large hand in placing them in jeopardy.

Still, his fear for his own physical well-being obliterated any sense of responsibility for the hundreds of students trapped in the ship under his command, any fear of the shame he would bring on himself and his family by abandoning those students, and, ultimately, any higher concern for his own dignity. Some culpability may also be assigned to the crew members who obeyed his call to abandon ship with him; if ever there was a moment that warranted mutiny, this was it. (Meanwhile, the school's vice-principal, who was rescued from the ship, but who can hardly be held responsible for the fate of his students under the circumstances, has committed suicide, leaving a note which includes this: "Burn my body and scatter my ashes at the site of the sunken ferry. Perhaps I can become a teacher for the missing students in my next life.")

Am I being unfairly merciless towards Captain Lee and his crew? Am I without pity for a man who was weak -- fatally weak -- in a moment of crisis he never anticipated?

Not at all; I do pity him. As my Korean friends and students spoke in a semi-shocked state about the missing teenagers during those first days, I confess my focus was on the captain. I had heard the early rumors that he was alive in the hospital, and that he had initially denied his identity and claimed ignorance of what had happened on his ship. I hoped they were false rumors, for if they were true, then this man's life was, for all intents and purposes, as surely over as if he had gone down with those two hundred and seventy passengers. More decisively over, perhaps, for dying on board would only have entailed the loss of his breath, whereas now he has lost far more. Consider, by analogy, a man who races to escape from his burning house, leaving his wife and children inside in order to save himself. That man, too, is a captain who failed to go down with his ship.

Lee's fate -- chosen, and all the more pitiable for that -- reminded me of Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim, perhaps the last word on the fate of manhood in the modern world, the story of a crewman who spends a lifetime trying to bury the shame of following his captain in abandoning ship. It reminded me of various other men's failings in the face of stark choices, great and small, between chosen responsibilities on the one hand, and petty self-concern, greed, or vanity on the other. It also reminded me of my own failures of judgment, and got me wondering whether I would respond to such a crisis more honorably than Captain Lee and his crew.

And this, I suspect, leads us somewhere valuable. Contemporary man, lost in his peculiar combination of self-righteous sentimentality ("The children!") and the mindless pursuit of gratification, invariably responds to stories like that of Captain Lee with an all too convenient "forgiveness," thereby absolving himself in advance of any blame or shame that might descend upon his own choices and motives. After all, as we are quick to reassure one another, we can never know how we would respond in the same situation unless we are in it. That may be true, but it is beside the point.

If we are unable or unwilling to see and confront the extreme lack of character -- the dishonor -- in Captain Lee's behavior, on the grounds that "we weren't in his shoes," then we are only increasing the chances that our own response, should we ever find ourselves in similar shoes, will be as weak as his. If we rationalize his action, we are implicitly rationalizing our own. That, in fact, is likely the main reason we excuse shameful actions so easily today: we are hoping to excuse ourselves from scrutiny (including and especially self-scrutiny) regarding our own failures of character. Moral relativism and psychological drivel about "drives" are the sophistries of weak men -- and they are intended to be exactly that, by those who propagate them, because these sophistries also produce weak men, serving the interests of a vicious ruling class quite well.

This self-absolution that passes itself off as "empathy" is one of our late modern diseases, and goes a long way to explaining our easy tolerance of increasingly generalized amorality, both in private conduct and, ultimately, in the criminal enterprise we dignify today with the name "politics."

Despotism of both the "hard" and "soft" varieties requires and thrives on men's willingness to accept, and ultimately to engage in, characterless behavior.

In hard despotism, this need is most vital among the ruler's immediate advisers and lackeys; they must be prepared to put his unjust whims into practice.

Soft despotism, our modern progressive creature, actually relies on, and therefore takes steps to foster, characterlessness on a much more universal scale. Socialism, welfare statism, crony capitalism, and so on (the variations of what I refer to generically as the parasitocracy) would be unsustainable and even inconceivable without a population that had, en masse, relinquished at least a goodly portion of its spiritual substance, i.e., of the sense of honor, the pride, the capacity for shame -- call it what you will -- that gives birth to maxims like "The captain always goes down with the ship."

In our modern ships of state, we are all, always, expected to excuse and rationalize shamelessness and thuggery of all sorts, as long as these are pursued under the auspices of state authority, and in the name of "social justice," "security," "fairness," or "correcting systemic or historic inequalities." We allow children to be raised and indoctrinated under the supervision of state "experts," without anyone ever asking too forcefully just wherein their "expertise" lies, and why parents should be compelled to submit their children to it without recourse. We allow state apparatchiks, with or without medical degrees, to make decisions about the life and death of our own loved ones, on the grounds that it would be "unfair" to do otherwise. We restrict, restrain, and hold one another for ransom indirectly, through the barrel of the state's gun, and yet sleep well at night -- unless we feel that we are not getting our fair share of the loot, or our fair turn at pointing the gun.

And that's just us, the lowly passengers. What of our captains of the ship of state, with their mutual back-scratching clubs and their continual ratchet towards ever-increasing limitations on individual freedom? What of our captains of industry with their hands in every authoritarian cookie jar, looking for goodies to protect their wealth and status ("too big to fail"), while ponying up to the political and academic establishment to furnish the legislative and ideological road blocks designed to thwart potential challengers? And what of today's educated class of thinkers and scholars, the traditional navigators of the ship, now mere sophists brandishing theory and "science" as a cudgel to beat back the last holdouts for rationality, virtue, and common sense.?Most of our captains abandoned ship a long time ago. They remain among us not as protectors, guides, or servants, but as predators waiting to pick at what is left of us when and where they can. And we tolerate their dishonorable behavior the same way we tolerate one another's, with excuses, rationalizations, and relativism.

Think back to Benghazi, a classic modern case of a captain and his crew abandoning ship with passengers trapped on board. Captain Lee of the Sewol was indeed just an ordinary man, though one lacking the character his passengers and their families had the right to expect of him. Captain Obama, by contrast, was the nominal "leader of the free world," and did not even face any personal risk in choosing his dishonor. And yet what were the consequences? Investigations, hearings, softball interviews -- where is the cold disgust that ought to greet Barack Obama and his Benghazi first mate Hillary Clinton any time they have the gall to show their mugs in public? Captain Lee will never again have command of so much as a tugboat, and appears in public wearing a hood to hide his disgrace. (Hence he deserves our pity.) Captain Obama remains the darling of the American press, and was re-elected two months after his most exposed moment of consciencelessness, while Clinton remains the odds-on favorite to become the titular head of the most powerful ruling faction on the planet in 2016. (Hence they deserve none.)

"The captain always goes down with the ship." The metaphorical potential here would be almost overripe, were not the literal reality still so painfully fresh on the vine. For today, hundreds of passengers, most of them youngsters who were looking forward to a few days of fun, float lifeless in their cabins, probably still wearing the life jackets that, according to analysts and common sense, might have allowed almost every one of them to survive, were it not for the misjudgment and the poor character of the Sewol's captain and crew.

That literal fact must be fully digested -- not out of any lack of empathy with a man who failed his life's great test, and who now faces likely imprisonment and years of hellish regret, but as a painful and hopefully ennobling reminder of what is at stake in our own lives and societies every day. We are each captains in our own little corners of life, and we are presented with continual temptations to abandon our command in a capsizing progressive world. No one is perfect, and no one needs to be. But we do have an obligation -- to our souls first of all -- to respond like dignified adults, without cowardly excuses or sophistries.

"The captain always goes down with the ship." This old seafarer's adage, which has come to have the force of a moral principle, was violated in tragic fashion in South Korea this past week. As investigators and divers try to determine exactly what caused the Sewol to sink, and families and friends mourn the loss of hundreds of souls, the rest of us may benefit by pausing to ask what may be learned from this disaster.

On Wednesday morning, April 16, the Sewol, a commercial ferry, neared the final stage of a routine journey from the northern port at Incheon towards the popular tourist island, Jeju, carrying four hundred and seventy-six passengers and crew. Most aboard were students from a high school in Ansan (near Seoul), enjoying their second year class trip to Jeju, a common ritual for Korean high schoolers. For reasons as yet unclear, the ship suddenly began to list. Within minutes, the crew had made a distress call to Jeju, where transcripts show authorities instructed the ship's captain, Lee Joon-seok, to prepare for evacuation immediately. Instead of heeding this rational advice, Captain Lee and his crew told the passengers to remain in their cabins and don life jackets as they tried to right the ship.

For at least thirty minutes after the original distress call, as it became increasingly obvious the ship was capsizing, the crew continued to instruct everyone to remain below, effectively trapping them until gravity and water pressure sealed their fate. More than two hundred and seventy people, most of them students, went down with the ship, and are now presumed dead.

Thus far, we are speaking of fatal incompetence. One crew member among the survivors says he has no memory of ever having trained for an evacuation. Consider that: a ferry with a capacity of nine hundred passengers was being operated by a crew that had not learned how to evacuate the ship; a crew that told people in a sinking ship to remain below until the path from the cabins to the main deck became untraversable due to the severity of the list; a crew that did not release its lifeboats even for the passengers who did have the foresight to disobey instructions and jump overboard; a crew among whom a surviving member has since said there was no time, in that hour of trying to save the ship, to read an emergency manual and find out what to do.

But practical incompetence is one thing; moral incompetence is quite another. I have recounted the testimony of a couple of the Sewol's surviving crew members. That last sentence ought to send a shiver up your spine. At least two hundred and seventy people died at sea, in part as a result of actions taken, and instructions given, by Captain Lee and his crew. Nevertheless, Captain Lee and a substantial number of that crew are alive and on land today -- they were, by all reports, among the first to jump ship, and the first to be rescued by fishermen and coast guard boats arriving at the scene.

"The captain always goes down with the ship." In practical terms, this adage is a simple embodiment of a trait that ought to be just as simple, but which has been rendered complex to the point of obscurity by modern sophistry, relativism, and moral infantilism, namely honor. This is plain for anyone to understand: the captain is responsible for his ship and its passengers. He is obliged, by the responsibility he has voluntarily assumed, to share the fate of those under his care. If he has any reason to believe human beings remain in jeopardy on his vessel, he must continue to take action aimed at their survival, before pursuing his own. In this case, Captain Lee not only had reason to believe people remained in jeopardy, but he also knew that he had a large hand in placing them in jeopardy.

Still, his fear for his own physical well-being obliterated any sense of responsibility for the hundreds of students trapped in the ship under his command, any fear of the shame he would bring on himself and his family by abandoning those students, and, ultimately, any higher concern for his own dignity. Some culpability may also be assigned to the crew members who obeyed his call to abandon ship with him; if ever there was a moment that warranted mutiny, this was it. (Meanwhile, the school's vice-principal, who was rescued from the ship, but who can hardly be held responsible for the fate of his students under the circumstances, has committed suicide, leaving a note which includes this: "Burn my body and scatter my ashes at the site of the sunken ferry. Perhaps I can become a teacher for the missing students in my next life.")

Am I being unfairly merciless towards Captain Lee and his crew? Am I without pity for a man who was weak -- fatally weak -- in a moment of crisis he never anticipated?

Not at all; I do pity him. As my Korean friends and students spoke in a semi-shocked state about the missing teenagers during those first days, I confess my focus was on the captain. I had heard the early rumors that he was alive in the hospital, and that he had initially denied his identity and claimed ignorance of what had happened on his ship. I hoped they were false rumors, for if they were true, then this man's life was, for all intents and purposes, as surely over as if he had gone down with those two hundred and seventy passengers. More decisively over, perhaps, for dying on board would only have entailed the loss of his breath, whereas now he has lost far more. Consider, by analogy, a man who races to escape from his burning house, leaving his wife and children inside in order to save himself. That man, too, is a captain who failed to go down with his ship.

Lee's fate -- chosen, and all the more pitiable for that -- reminded me of Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim, perhaps the last word on the fate of manhood in the modern world, the story of a crewman who spends a lifetime trying to bury the shame of following his captain in abandoning ship. It reminded me of various other men's failings in the face of stark choices, great and small, between chosen responsibilities on the one hand, and petty self-concern, greed, or vanity on the other. It also reminded me of my own failures of judgment, and got me wondering whether I would respond to such a crisis more honorably than Captain Lee and his crew.

And this, I suspect, leads us somewhere valuable. Contemporary man, lost in his peculiar combination of self-righteous sentimentality ("The children!") and the mindless pursuit of gratification, invariably responds to stories like that of Captain Lee with an all too convenient "forgiveness," thereby absolving himself in advance of any blame or shame that might descend upon his own choices and motives. After all, as we are quick to reassure one another, we can never know how we would respond in the same situation unless we are in it. That may be true, but it is beside the point.

If we are unable or unwilling to see and confront the extreme lack of character -- the dishonor -- in Captain Lee's behavior, on the grounds that "we weren't in his shoes," then we are only increasing the chances that our own response, should we ever find ourselves in similar shoes, will be as weak as his. If we rationalize his action, we are implicitly rationalizing our own. That, in fact, is likely the main reason we excuse shameful actions so easily today: we are hoping to excuse ourselves from scrutiny (including and especially self-scrutiny) regarding our own failures of character. Moral relativism and psychological drivel about "drives" are the sophistries of weak men -- and they are intended to be exactly that, by those who propagate them, because these sophistries also produce weak men, serving the interests of a vicious ruling class quite well.

This self-absolution that passes itself off as "empathy" is one of our late modern diseases, and goes a long way to explaining our easy tolerance of increasingly generalized amorality, both in private conduct and, ultimately, in the criminal enterprise we dignify today with the name "politics."

Despotism of both the "hard" and "soft" varieties requires and thrives on men's willingness to accept, and ultimately to engage in, characterless behavior.

In hard despotism, this need is most vital among the ruler's immediate advisers and lackeys; they must be prepared to put his unjust whims into practice.

Soft despotism, our modern progressive creature, actually relies on, and therefore takes steps to foster, characterlessness on a much more universal scale. Socialism, welfare statism, crony capitalism, and so on (the variations of what I refer to generically as the parasitocracy) would be unsustainable and even inconceivable without a population that had, en masse, relinquished at least a goodly portion of its spiritual substance, i.e., of the sense of honor, the pride, the capacity for shame -- call it what you will -- that gives birth to maxims like "The captain always goes down with the ship."

In our modern ships of state, we are all, always, expected to excuse and rationalize shamelessness and thuggery of all sorts, as long as these are pursued under the auspices of state authority, and in the name of "social justice," "security," "fairness," or "correcting systemic or historic inequalities." We allow children to be raised and indoctrinated under the supervision of state "experts," without anyone ever asking too forcefully just wherein their "expertise" lies, and why parents should be compelled to submit their children to it without recourse. We allow state apparatchiks, with or without medical degrees, to make decisions about the life and death of our own loved ones, on the grounds that it would be "unfair" to do otherwise. We restrict, restrain, and hold one another for ransom indirectly, through the barrel of the state's gun, and yet sleep well at night -- unless we feel that we are not getting our fair share of the loot, or our fair turn at pointing the gun.

And that's just us, the lowly passengers. What of our captains of the ship of state, with their mutual back-scratching clubs and their continual ratchet towards ever-increasing limitations on individual freedom? What of our captains of industry with their hands in every authoritarian cookie jar, looking for goodies to protect their wealth and status ("too big to fail"), while ponying up to the political and academic establishment to furnish the legislative and ideological road blocks designed to thwart potential challengers? And what of today's educated class of thinkers and scholars, the traditional navigators of the ship, now mere sophists brandishing theory and "science" as a cudgel to beat back the last holdouts for rationality, virtue, and common sense.?Most of our captains abandoned ship a long time ago. They remain among us not as protectors, guides, or servants, but as predators waiting to pick at what is left of us when and where they can. And we tolerate their dishonorable behavior the same way we tolerate one another's, with excuses, rationalizations, and relativism.

Think back to Benghazi, a classic modern case of a captain and his crew abandoning ship with passengers trapped on board. Captain Lee of the Sewol was indeed just an ordinary man, though one lacking the character his passengers and their families had the right to expect of him. Captain Obama, by contrast, was the nominal "leader of the free world," and did not even face any personal risk in choosing his dishonor. And yet what were the consequences? Investigations, hearings, softball interviews -- where is the cold disgust that ought to greet Barack Obama and his Benghazi first mate Hillary Clinton any time they have the gall to show their mugs in public? Captain Lee will never again have command of so much as a tugboat, and appears in public wearing a hood to hide his disgrace. (Hence he deserves our pity.) Captain Obama remains the darling of the American press, and was re-elected two months after his most exposed moment of consciencelessness, while Clinton remains the odds-on favorite to become the titular head of the most powerful ruling faction on the planet in 2016. (Hence they deserve none.)

"The captain always goes down with the ship." The metaphorical potential here would be almost overripe, were not the literal reality still so painfully fresh on the vine. For today, hundreds of passengers, most of them youngsters who were looking forward to a few days of fun, float lifeless in their cabins, probably still wearing the life jackets that, according to analysts and common sense, might have allowed almost every one of them to survive, were it not for the misjudgment and the poor character of the Sewol's captain and crew.

That literal fact must be fully digested -- not out of any lack of empathy with a man who failed his life's great test, and who now faces likely imprisonment and years of hellish regret, but as a painful and hopefully ennobling reminder of what is at stake in our own lives and societies every day. We are each captains in our own little corners of life, and we are presented with continual temptations to abandon our command in a capsizing progressive world. No one is perfect, and no one needs to be. But we do have an obligation -- to our souls first of all -- to respond like dignified adults, without cowardly excuses or sophistries

A NOTE FROM TIM:

On the matter of honor I can say you are absolutely correct. I remember my college days and a professor (a Conservative professor, which could still be found back then) making the point that honor was the key to social stability in earlier cultures. A man would die before losing his honor. But with the rise of the Liberal movement and the coming of industrialization that changed, and honor was dismissed as the primary governing force in favor of guilt. That explains why the left is always guilting the public with what they ought to be doing or not doing; it is the primary control mechanism. This also explains why there is no such chaos in popular culture; guilt is easier to ignore if there is no shame, and shame only works where honor is concerned. This captain and crew were thoroughly modern men, willing to let their charges drown to save their own hides. A hundred years ago this would not have happened.

Guilt is how the Left controls us; racial guilt, sexual guilt, historical guilt, all manner of collective guilts. And they then offer absolution provided you follow them. It really isn't new; the Bible speaks of Satan as "accusing the bretheren night and day" or trying to engender guilt. And this has been used in some societies in the past. I read that the Mau-mau made recruits committ ever sin in every religion so they would have no hope and could never leave the brotherhood. Damned souls stick together. This should be the motto of the Progressive movement.

As you point out, honor can indeed be hard, and one would hope that we wouuld respond honorably when the time came. Also, it is harsh in judgement in that a man may not have acted dishonorably but appeared to do so and thus come to scorn. But at least this system worked; the guilt trip only makes people neurotic, and this endless self-forgiveness allows them to open doors that absolutely should remain shut.

How many children are kidnapped and raped each year by someone who started off excusing his addiction to pornography? How many lives lost to someone who excused his lust for domination over another? Serial killers don't start with murder, but with the desire for power. The craven actions of this captain and crew may not sink to that level but they clearly are on the same track.

Tim

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 07:50 AM | Comments (109) | Add Comment
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