Thursday, December 31, 2009

"The system worked"


As a Catholic, that's all I have to say about this post by the pseudonymous Diogenes over at Catholic Culture.

Talking about the federal government's foolish and ridiculous response to the underwear bomber (i.e. inconveniencing all travelers instead of using the existing system to focus on actual security threats), Diogenes says,

It’s an absurd reaction. It would be comical if it weren’t so infuriating. It’s almost as if the US bishops, having allowed known molesters to work with children for years, decided that the most appropriate remedy was to force parents to undergo background checks before serving as playground monitors.

Can you imagine that happening? Funny, I can.

I wish I couldn't. Boy does the truth hurt.

Hopefully one day men of integrity will once again comprise a majority of US Bishops. That hasn't been the case for decades, but I pray I will see that day.

Obama is greater than Jesus

Wow. I just at a loss for words over this in the Danish newspaper Politiken.
Obama is, of course, greater than Jesus – if we have to play that absurd Christmas game. But it is probably more meaningful to insist that with [the passage of health care reform], that he has already assured himself a place in the history books – a space he has good chances of expanding considerably in coming years.
I can't even parody it, it's so absurd.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The underwear bomber shows that the Emperor has no clothes

On Christmas Day, a Muslim fanatic attempted to butcher hundreds of Christians (dead Jews would've been a bonus). Our response? Have airport security analyze the contents of grandma's mini-bottle of shampoo -- we don't want to "discriminate."

With our lies, self-deception and self-flagellation, we're terror's little helpers.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Christian Case for Temple Prostitution

Erin Manning has a great post over at Crunchy Con relaying a Swiftian case for Temple Prostitution.
What are the biggest problems, practical and theological, that ... churches in America face today? I would submit the following:

--Inability to retain or reach out to young, single people, especially men. Think about it--on a typical Sunday in a typical Lutheran church, how many 28-year-old single men are sitting in the pews? How might we draw them in? What are their felt needs? [...]

--Declining revenue. Especially in a tough economy, we need new and creative ways to raise money if we're adequately going to fund critical ministries such as feeding the hungry or blanketing Africa with condoms. [...]

Now imagine all those problems solved with one simple innovation. The answer: temple prostitution.

I know, I know. Outrageous and offensive. I can hear readers already dismissing the idea out of hand. And I admit that we may not be ready for it quite yet. But please hear me out on this.

First off, let's address the common objections. Sure, there are a handful of Bible verses that might seem to condemn the practice. But all the condemnation of temple prostitution involves pagan practices or worship of false gods. The objectionable thing is the idolatry, not the physical act itself. Sanctified, faithful prostitution in service of the true God is a new thing. The Biblical writers never foresaw or contemplated sanctified, faithful, God-pleasing prostitution in the churches and thus never wrote about it. Attempts to find a Biblical injunction against the practice therefore fall short.

Secondly, let's not cherry-pick verses selectively. We don't stone disobedient children to death. We don't refrain from pork or sodomy merely because this or that verse says we should. We have to look at the whole Biblical witness in light of the freedom we have in Christ. For example, God ordered Hosea to marry a prostitute. Such Biblical precedent offers interpretive nuance to seemingly black-and-white prohibitions.
Funny stuff. Then comes the kicker:
[T]he things said by the writer about temple prostitution are exactly the things progressive Christians often say about things like cohabitation, homosexual acts, fornication and the like--that these things aren't sins, that traditional Christianity has gotten this wrong for the last couple of thousand years, and that really, if we understood Jesus as we should, we would realize that He approves of all consensual sex except perhaps adultery [...]

However we moderns ... may view divorce and contraception, the truth is that for the vast centuries of Christianity a Christian would have found the notion that any fellow Christian would ever approve of either, or insist that either was consistent with living a Christian life, to be every bit as funny as some of us today find the idea that a Christian church might approve of Temple prostitution. And there's a lesson there: we can't hope to strengthen and protect Christian marriage without getting back to the basics of Christian sexual morality, which means that we need to be as willing to examine our own favorite "exceptions" to this body of teaching as we are to focus on the exceptions that other people are insisting on creating.
Good point, Erin. Very good point.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Absolute Paradox

Kierkegaard called the Incarnation "The Absolute Paradox", the joining of the seemingly irreconcilable, mutually exclusive categories of the infinite and the finite. We in the West, especially those of us who are the heirs of Christendom, have heard this mystery spoken of so much that it has lost its grandeur.

This is a short video that gives us a better idea of how majestic the finite is -- and therefore how unspeakably great the infinite must be.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad bill

Something the Dems should have mentioned -- if, you know, they were really interested in reforming America's health care system, and not just breaking it in preparation for creating a single-payer system.

Speaking about the Senate bill's likely effect on insurers, the head of Harvard Pilgrim in MA laid out the likely results of the "reform" that passed today:

From the look of the finished product, most of the deals involved were unrelated to health reform, since the changes to the bill itself were marginal. The individual requirement to purchase has been tweaked, but still fails to ensure that individuals cannot delay buying coverage until they need it. ...

The flawed structure of the bill is therefore retained, which means that expansion of eligibility and other reforms are largely delayed to 2014, but changes having the effect of increasing health insurance premiums will take effect prior to 2014. ...

It is a shame that the bill has to be structured in this way, but it is a direct result of expanding eligibility and benefits, imposing health system taxes to pay for it, and ignoring the health care cost problem. ...

Imagine how this plays in Massachusetts, where the insurance market is already reformed, the cost of health insurance is already high, and the major health plans are
not-for-profits. The impact of federal health reform will be little more than higher premiums.
So, to recap:
  • The bill foists new costs upon already bankrupt systems without meaningful ways of paying for them. (The cuts in Medicare will not be made, certainly not at the levels required to actually pay for the Senate bill's expansion.)
  • The bill requires insurers to cover everyone, but effectively allows individuals to not buy health insurance until they're sick, thereby driving up insurance costs exponentially.
  • The bill provides for subsidies for "low-income" individuals (defined as "people who aren't really poor, but will be once they have to pay all the taxes to cover this health care expansion") to buy insurance, subsidies which will cost everyone more money in the form of higher taxes.
  • The bill does absolutely nothing to contain rising health care costs: THE #1 REASON WHY PEOPLE LACK INSURANCE.


Excellent. Really -- well done, Democrats.

If you don't piss off voters so much that they actually force their representatives to repeal this horrible bill, you'll have all-but-guaranteed that the US will have single-payer health care in less than a generation. By then, the system will be so profoundly broken by the madness within this bill -- the expansions of already bankrupt programs (Medicare and Medicaid) foisted upon a system with endemic runaway costs -- that people will likely turn to single-payer as the only solution.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Democracy at work! Yay!

Um, not so much.

This is truly frightening.

The Senate insurance company pork giveaway -- er, health care reform -- bill, talking about the elderly care advisory panels (a.k.a. "death panels") says:
"It shall not be in order in the Senate or the House of Representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection."
What? Future Congresses can never repeal that part of this bill? Is that even constitutional? If so, how is it not, in the words of one commenter, "a one-way street with no U-turn into socialism"?

The bare-knuckled intimidation and whoring about this bill has been ridiculous, even for Congress. I thought the Bushies were bad with the flagrantly unprincipled tactics they used to pass Part D, but Obama, Emmanuel, and the Gang have proven more than up to the task of one-upping Rove and Cheney in this area.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Once again, TMQ says it best

From Gregg Easterbrook's latest Tuesday Morning Quarterback column:

Heads of State Pause Their Limos at Their Personal Jets to Denounce Fossil Fuel Use:

As the Copenhagen climate summit grinds on with -- big surprise! -- nothing specific agreed upon, here's my summary of what you need to know about the global warming issue, bearing in mind yours truly is the author of an 800-page book about environmental policy (that book was so fast-paced, it only seemed like 700 pages):

• There is indeed a strong scientific consensus regarding climate change. The deniers simply aren't honest about this.

• The consensus is that in the last century, air has warmed by about one degree Fahrenheit while the oceans have warmed a little and become slightly acidic; rainfall patterns have changed in some places, and most though not all ice melting has accelerated.

• That consensus is significant, but hardly means there is a crisis. Glaciers and sea ice, for example, have been in a melting cycle for thousands of years, while air warming has so far been good for farm yields. The doomsayers simply aren't honest about how mild the science consensus is.

• Predictions of global devastation -- climate change is a "profound emergency" that will "ravage our planet" -- are absurd exaggerations, usually motivated by political or fund-raising agendas.

• Climate change has serious possible negative consequences, especially if rainfall shifts away from agricultural regions.

• Global poverty, disease, dirty air and lack of clean water in developing world cities and lack of education are far higher priorities than greenhouse gas emissions.

• Smog and acid rain turned out to be far cheaper to control than predicted; the same may happen with greenhouse gases.

• The United States must regulate greenhouse gases in order to bring American brainpower, in engineering and in business, to bear on the problem.

• A carbon tax, not some super-complex cap-and-trade scheme that mainly creates jobs for bureaucrats and lawyers, would be the best approach.

• If the United States invents technology to control greenhouse gases, no super-complex international treaty will be needed. Nations will adopt greenhouse controls on their own, because it will be in their self-interest to do so. Smog and acid rain are declining almost everywhere, though are not governed by any international treaty; nations have decided to regulate smog and acid rain emissions on their own, because it is in their self-interest to do so.

As for the e-mails hacked from a greenhouse research center in the United Kingdom, e-mails are private correspondence. Copying them without permission is at the least unethical, and perhaps a crime. If you saw private letters on someone's desk, photocopied them and posted them on the Web, you would be considered a person of low character. Whoever hacked the climate e-mails is at the very least an unethical person of low character, and one should be wary of the agendas of unethical people.

That said, many climate scientists are rigidly ideological and believe dissent must be shouted down. This is partly because of money and privilege. The United States and European Union spend about $6 billion annually on climate change research, and every penny goes to alarmism, because it can be used to justify government expansion. Being a climate doomsayer is a path to cash and tenure -- even to celebrity, as making wildly exaggerated claims got Al Gore a Noble Prize plus stock in companies now winning government subsidies triggered by alarmism. The doomsayers are lauded by foundations, go to parties with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and attend taxpayer-subsidized conferences in Nice. They've formed a guild with intense focus on maintaining guild structure. The 1962 Thomas Kuhn book "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" is best-known for introducing the "paradigm shift" concept. Kuhn's larger argument was that science is not an abstract truth-seeking realm, rather, subject to fads and what is now called political correctness, and one in which many scientists are concerned foremost with safeguarding their sinecure by toeing the line.

Plus the alarmists need to divert attention from the inconvenient truth that 20 years ago, Gore and James Hansen of NASA began to say that without immediate drastic action against greenhouse gases, there would soon be global calamities. Nothing was done -- and no problem so far. That is no reason to be complacent -- warming-caused problems may be in store. But for the self-interested alarmists, this is a reason to shout down their critics.

Footnote: John Siemieniec of West Dundee, Ill., was among many readers to note the 140 private jets and 1,200 limos at the climate summit. World leaders and celebrities rode in comfort to a conference to wag their fingers about how somebody else should stop wasting fossil fuel.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Laszewski's post title says it all

Title: The Medicare Buy-In is Dead: Liberals are Now the Swing Votes in Health Care
The Medicare buy-in idea is dead. After Democratic Congressman Weiner's candid comment, “Never mind the camel’s nose, we’ve got his head and neck in the tent," no senator from the likes of Arkansas or Indiana is going to vote for this. ...

So it is no longer the moderate Dems who are the swing votes.

It is all of those liberals in the Senate and House who said they would not vote for a health bill that did not have a public option. True, the latest version in the Reid and Pelosi bill was nothing more than the neutered variety but at least the liberals had some political cover. Now they will have none. ...

Democrats have kept rolling toward a health care bill even with poll approval rates in the high high 30s and low 40s because they know they cannot offend their base by failing to produce a health care bill. They know they have already lost lots of swing voters but it would be worse for them next November if they also lost that critical base.

The base wanted a public option and is rabidly mad about what is going on.

So, your garden variety liberal now has a big decision to make.

Vote yes for a bill that just pumps $850 billion into pretty much the same system we already have--insurance companies and all--or do what they said they were going to do if they did not get a public option--ditch a health care bill.

It's not the moderates I will be watching the next few days--it will be all of those liberals who said they would never do what their President is about to call on them to do.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Why won't they get it? Part 2

"No discrimination" means ... well ... no discrimination.

So many people signed onto the idea of non-discrimination as a matter of public policy and then are shocked -- shocked! -- when it finally becomes clear to them that their flavor of discrimination (a Webster's definition of discriminate: "to make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit") is no longer allowed. They really don't think -- they have never really thought -- that the discriminationistas mean what they say.

Case #513: the British Catholic Church.
The Catholic bishops of England and Wales said they could be at risk of prosecution under a proposed law unless they accept women, sexually active gays and transsexuals as candidates to the priesthood. ...

The bishops said the bill defines priests as employees rather than officeholders. Under the terms of the bill, the church would be immune from prosecution only if priests spend more than 51 percent of their time in worship or explaining doctrine.

According to the briefing, a copy of which was obtained by Catholic News Service Dec. 8, the government definition will, in effect, make it "unlawful to require a Catholic priest to be male, unmarried or not in a civil partnership, etc., since no priest would be able to demonstrate that their time was wholly or mainly spent either leading liturgy or promoting and explaining doctrine."
The bishops were originally assured that this type of outcome was they stuff of dystopian fantasy. And, to be fair, the definition in the article is the bishops' worried (and certainly biased) reading. But the House of Commons has already thrown the gauntlet down on homosexuals adopting children, revoking the exception Catholic agencies had enjoyed in that area. The trend in this area is increasingly clear: "no discrimination" means "no discrimination". (Except against Conservatives, but that's another story.)

But the bishops' main objections demonstrate that they really haven't grasped this point.
"The bill fails to reflect the time priests spend in pastoral work, private prayer and study, administration, building maintenance, etc."
Really? The problem is that the bill doesn't exempt your particular group, not that the law itself is totalitarian and immoral?

Apparently so. We're left with the clear implication that, were the UK Church still exempted from the requirements of the Equality Act (if priests were defined as "office holders" instead of "employees"), they would be fine with it.

As the saying goes, "There are none so blind as those who will not see."

Friday, December 4, 2009

More butter = less guns

It's a simple concept, really. The more we spend domestically on entitlements and social concerns ("butter") the less we can spend on defense ("guns").

I hear a lot about how successful the health care regimes in Western Europe and Canada are. Leave out the rising tide of red ink those countries are increasingly swimming in due to their massive welfare states. A major reason why they can devote that kind of money to health care is that they don't spend much on their militaries.

To date, Europe has been able to get away with this kind of irresponsibility because America foolishly took up the mantle of world policeman 60 years ago. Given the massive entitlement spending of the current and former American Presidents, however, the days of Europe's free lunch are rapidly drawing to a close.
Among the Western Europeans, only France and the U.K. spend more than 2% of GDP on defense, supposedly the NATO-mandated minimum. Nearly everyone else is below that. Germany, the continent's largest economy, stands at 1.3%. U.S. defense spending has been above 4% of GDP since 2004, having fallen to 3% after the Cold War ended. ...

Most European countries also commit more than half of what little they do spend on defense to soldier salaries and benefits. Equipment and training are shortchanged. Belgium devotes 74% to personnel; the U.S. 30.6%. Europeans lack cargo planes and helicopters to enable troops to get to, and move within, far-off conflict zones. In 2007, the U.S. deployed 14% of its troops in overseas operations, Europe 4%.

Such relative strategic weakness has made the Europeans more dependent on the American security umbrella, even as they resent it. But it also makes Europeans more disposed to avoid confrontation with adversaries like Saddam Hussein or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As Henry Kissinger has put it, European leaders are no longer able to ask their people to make major sacrifices. ...

The tragic irony of this year is that Democrats are rushing the U.S. down this same primrose entitlement path. ...

Add the stimulus, ObamaCare, a new entitlement for college and other Democratic plans, and the defense squeeze will only tighten. Higher taxes and borrowing may allow guns and butter to co-exist for a while. But over time, the welfare state will defeat the Pentagon here, as it has in Europe.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why don't they get it?

Same-sex "marriage" isn't a winner -- not even in Liberal New York State.

Everywhere same-sex "marriage" has been up for a popular vote in the US -- EVERYWHERE -- it's lost. New York is the 35th state (I believe) to refuse to support it. Yet the pro-gay "marriage" folks still claim that proponents of real -- that is, heterosexual -- marriage are the ones somehow forcing their views on others.

In the wake of the movement's most unanticipated defeat yet, NY governor David Patterson said, "I think that there were political forces that in some respects intimidated some of those who voted. I think if there’d actually been a conscience vote we’d be celebrating marriage equality right now."

Now, there are two factors that make that statement delusional:
  1. The proposition that real marriage proponents generally voted their conscience doesn't seem to have entered Gov. Patterson's mind. As it doesn't generally seem to enter the minds of gay "marriage" proponents. In their minds, pro-gay "marriage" supporters are conscientious and pro-real marriage proponents are bigots (or, at best, confused). The condescension is amazing.
  2. The pro-gay "marriage" crowd has lately been quite thuggish: engaging in moral bullying, intimidation, and violent retribution against those who disagree with them. The aftermath of Proposition 8's passage in California, wherein the Mormon Church has been targeted like German Jews in kristalnacht for its prominence in working for Prop. 8, speaks volumes about the ugliness among many proponents of gay "marriage".
But if you want more evidence that Gov. Patterson is wildly off in his analysis, read just a little further in the same article:
It is rare for legislation to reach the floor in Albany when passage is not all but assured. ...

[But Democrats brought the bill to a vote] in part because gay rights groups, which have become major financial players in state politics, wanted to know which senators they should back in the future and which ones to target for defeat.

Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, New York’s largest gay rights group, hinted that senators who voted against the bill on Wednesday could face repercussions.

On Wednesday, as news of the vote made its way to demonstrators standing outside the Senate chamber, some erupted in angry chants of “Equal rights!” and surrounded a senator who opposed the measure.
How enlightened of them.