Saturday, December 31, 2011

So this is how the 99 percent lives

By Donald Sensing

Obama’s vacation home in Hawaii - The Washington Post

So President Obama stands behind the Occupiers? How nice to know that our president comports with the unwashed 99 percent, especially in his choice of vacation getaways.



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Americans love movies, but ...

By Donald Sensing

... we are rapidly coming to dislike movie theaters - and other movie goers.

I'll tell you why movie revenue is dropping... :: rogerebert.com

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Kickoff

By Donald Sensing

Opening kickoff, MSU receiving. They had a good return, but got sacked deep on their second down. Wound up punting.


It"s Music City Bowl day

By Donald Sensing

At LP Field for the Music City Bowl, my alma mater, Wake Forest, playing. Miss. State.

Temps in the high 50s, clear sky. Great night for football in Nashville!

The venue:


Ultimate gamer gear

By Donald Sensing

I do not play video games myself since I have, you know, a life. But for those who do, I present the ultimate gamer station.



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Thursday, December 29, 2011

NYT: Gun owners less lethal than general population

By Donald Sensing

The New York Times has the numbers to show that people who possess firearm carry permits are six times less likely to commit murder than the general population.

But of course, since no real reporters actually work at the Grey Lady, they did not understand the portent of their own data

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Why does Obama do the things he does?

By Donald Sensing

Victor Davis Hanson on Barack Obama:

For Obama the great tragedy of a Solyndra was not the corruption of old-style fast-buck artists masking their greed through insider green lobbying with members of his administration, but rather that such scandals (along with Climategate and the implosion of Al Gore) have sidetracked the entire green philosophy that mandated more government unionized employees, government technocrats, and government tax collectors to reorder society itself.

The result of all this is a sort of unending but rarely expressed war. The business man does not know what his taxes are, only that they should go up, given his privilege. He is judged not by the good that he does but by the excessive money he makes. The corporation does not know what the rules of the game are, whether his energy is too polluting, his workers not unionized enough, or his product not regulated enough. None believe Obamacare, as promised, will reduce costs. None believe that government borrowing and massive new entitlements are reducing unemployment and raising GDP. None believe that wealth can be created by record deficits and aggregate debt. None believe that printing ever more money will not lead to inflation.

What we have, then, is a war on two ends: the better off are hesitant to work more, given their fears that additional profits will either be more difficult to come by or not remain their own; the poor are hesitant to work more, given their expectations that entitlements will be extended and will be easier to come by. They both expect more government and they both as a result are not so eager to take risks and seek greater income in the private sector.

The result of Obama’s war is the current three-year slowdown. Obama in response counts on two strategies to nevertheless be reelected: either at some point the private sector will conclude that it is not going to get any better, and thus it is preferable to shrug, take its medicine, and get back to work, and so the economy picks up a little in 2012; or, to the degree that Obama can blame the lengthy pause solely on the minority of the undeserving rich, he believes that an angry and fearful bare majority may agree.
The question is truly begged: If we stipulate that the effective destruction of America's economy is not an actual objective of a president whose political orientation is the most radically leftist of any figure to occupy the office (or most any office in Washington, for that matter), then: what would he be doing differently if that really was his objective? He would be doing hardly anything differently.

This administration is not so baffling perhaps, when viewed through this lens:



Bill Whittle explains in detail:



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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hamas gets to the point

By Donald Sensing

normblog: The dulcet tones of Hamas:

As delivered by Ismail Haniyeh:

We say today, explicitly, so it cannot be explained otherwise, that the armed resistance and the armed struggle are the path and the strategic choice for liberating the Palestinian land, from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river, and for the expulsion of the invaders and usurpers [Israel] from the blessed land of Palestine. The Hamas movement will lead Intifada after Intifada until we liberate Palestine - all of Palestine, Allah willing. Allah Akbar and praise Allah. We say with transparency and in a clear manner, that Palestinian reconciliation - and all sides must know this - cannot come at the expense of [our] principles, at the expense of the resistance. These principles are absolute and cannot be disputed: Palestine - all of Palestine - is from the sea to the river. We won't relinquish one inch of the land of Palestine. The involvement of Hamas at any stage with the interim objective of liberation of [only] Gaza, the West Bank, or Jerusalem, does not replace its strategic view concerning Palestine and the land of Palestine.

You can see and hear him saying all that here. Next time you hear some Western leftist (verkrappt branch) mouthing off with the slogan 'from the river to the sea', all the while adding assurances about a secular-democratic state for Palestine, you might draw his or her attention to Haniyeh's words, 'expulsion of the invaders and usurpers from the blessed land of Palestine'.

It's worth repeating: Hamas has no objective but to rid the Middle East of Jews, and the more violently done the better.

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Titanic 2012: Bring your own lifeboat

By Donald Sensing

Watch out for the icebergs... cruise recreating Titanic's fateful voyage is sold out:

For some, it might sound too much like tempting fate – and for others, it smacks of "disaster voyeurism". But for more than 2,000 Titanic enthusiasts, the chance to mark the centenary of the maritime disaster by sailing on a large cruise ship to commemorate the sinking on the very spot of the tragedy is proving difficult to resist.
As the Lord said to Noah, "How long can you tread water?"



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The answer is, "Forever"

By Donald Sensing

Consider:

Voter identification continued to be a hot topic for legislators in 2011. Four states — Kansas, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas — approved laws requiring voters to present photo identification before casting ballots.

A fifth state, South Carolina, had passed its own voter-identification law, but it was overturned Dec. 23 by the Justice Department. South Carolina is required to submit revisions in voting procedures for federal clearance as a state with a history of discrimination at the ballot box, but it can appeal Justice’s ruling in federal court.

So: For how many years after the Jim Crow era will South Carolina's election laws be subject to the veto of an unelected, unaccountable bureaucrat in Washington?

Forever, of course.

There is nothing South Carolina will ever be able to do to get the federal monkey off its back. If the state elected a black governor and a black-majority legislature, any election laws they pass will still be overruled at the whim of federal clerks. The federal government does not surrender power.

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Norway UFO videoed by accident?

By Donald Sensing

This is a video taken by a Norwegian using a small camera mounted in front of a powered, remote-control glider, looking back toward the front of the glider. Pretty nice video.

But - just what is the object in the sky - upper right hand corner of the screen - between 1:43-44?



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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Super water repellent spray coming

By Donald Sensing

Amazing stuff, this:



So every coat can be a raincoat? I thought about using this stuff to treat my shirts and not have to worry about a raincoat at all, but if it repels water this thoroughly how could I wash my shirts? The spray doesn't repel dirt, after all. But it does seem pretty remarkable.

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The NFL has gone off the rails

By Donald Sensing

Articles: Three Ugly Truths Exposed by the Tebow Assault:

[T]he league's oddball values (i.e., mainstream ones) have finally been exposed to an unforgiving light. It's the same wan, greenish light that characterizes all of the urban-poseur values of the sec-progs (usually reserved to their own sportless sphere of influence). It's readily visible if we select a view of a slightly bigger picture: the sec-progs advocate teaching kindergartners how to wear condoms but are offended by the concept that sometimes grown men fight with their fists. Or to put an even finer point upon it: they want to teach kindergartners how to wear condoms and (not "but") are offended by Tim Tebow's open chastity. The point is that in watching the NFL, there remains no longer any distinction between "urban values" and "rural values," for which the NFL used to surrogate. And as ever, these values remain at cross-purposes. Soon now, we the people will be put to a choice.

This second truth looms so large as to bleed over into the third: that our entire culture evinces a general trend whereby the popular sensibilities become thinner-skinned as the popular mores demand an ever stronger and stronger stomach. The average commercial shown during an NFL game threatens to corrupt the mind of the youth in far more pernicious ways than a few skirmishes by players during the game ever could. And yet the liberals who have long masterminded the realization of such a bizarre world with a thousand subtle nuances -- having effectually blinded the masses -- can simply shrug in feigned innocent perplexity.

The moment, which I believe has just passed us, wherein Tim Tebow's prayers and sexual chastity get formally denounced as dangerous needs to be a "moment of clarity," en masse, whereupon we can all reassess the paltry values that we have thoughtlessly embraced as a people. While, happily, it seems that enough folks have awoken to the economic blights of leftism for the 2012 election, such a realization -- in order to bear any meaningful change -- must be met with a concomitant moral reawakening. This is my New Year's wish. And God bless Tim Tebow.


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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Our impractical God

By Donald Sensing

A homily for Christmas Day

We pride ourselves on being practical people, do we not? Americans have a particular susceptibility to the practical and pragmatic. I don’t say that as a criticism, by the way, since I am one of those people whose first question about a proposal is usually how it will work. I am reminded of the story of the time the Little Sisters of the Poor were going door to door in a French city, soliciting alms for old people. There was a house on their route that belonged to a wealthy and very vocal opponent of the church. One of the sisters said it would not be practical to call upon him for a donation and to this they all agreed.

All except one sister who knocked on the rich man’s door, anyway. He answered, she explained her request for a donation, and the man replied, grinning, “I will give you one thousand francs if you will have a glass of champagne with me.”

It was an embarrassing situation for the nun, and she hesitated. But 1,000 francs meant many loaves of bread or medicine for the poor. So she went inside. A servant brought the bottle and poured, and the brave nun emptied the glass. And then she said, "And now, sir, another glass, please – at the same price." She got it. Not so impractical to call upon that fellow after all.

Here are some some real, historical impracticalbilities.


Hail Cannons: In the late 19th century some Austrians devised a special gas-based mortar supposedly capable of preventing hail. By the year 1900, more than 10,000 hail cannons had cropped up across Western Europe. Given their popularity, it's a shame that the cannons proved useless.



"Goofybike:" In 1939, Charles Steinlauf made a bicycle to carry four people and power a sewing machine. Nuff said.


Jetpacks: James Bond flew one in the beginning of Thunderball, made in 1965, and jetpacks have not gotten better since then. You can buy the one on the right for $155,000, including training. But remember what the maker says: since it flies for only 33 seconds, you start looking for a landing spot the moment your feet leave the ground. And as for the flying cars we were promised 50 years ago, fuggidaboutit.


The Wright Flyer: December 17, 1901 – 120 feet in 12 seconds, 6.8 miles per hour, no more than 10 feet altitude.

France's SS Normandie

We all know the history of aviation after the Wright brothers took to the air. The significance of SS Normandie is less well known. It was launched by the French company GCT in 1932 and set a transatlantic speed record on its maiden passenger voyage. Setting that record was in fact the whole reason the ship was built. Yet its design was scoffed as impractical almost up to its launch.

Normandie was designed by a Russian emigre named Vladimir Yourkevitch, whose designs had been laughed out of court by the admirals of the Czar’s navy. Yourkevitch had been a junior naval architect then and was convinced that the key to speed for large vessels was a paunchy middle and an extremely pointed fore and aft. Yourkevitch persisted, his designs were tested but the Russian Revolution put an end to his dreams. He made his way to France where no naval work awaited him and he finally got a job on the Renault automobile assembly line.

Michael Anton recorded that after GCT announced it would build a ship to capture the record,
Vladimir Yourkevitch spent the closing months of the 1920s making a pest of himself with conduct that would, in our day, result in a restraining order. He wrote, he wired, and he called—with exasperating persistence—officials at CGT and the Penhoët shipyard, where the new French liner would be built. All his entreaties were ignored. Finally, he contacted an old friend from the Russian navy who had been welcomed into France’s military establishment. The officer got Yourkevitch a meeting.

The shipyard chairman, René Fould, barely concealed his disdain for Yourkevitch’s poverty, his lowly job, and his broken French. Still, he took Yourkevitch’s drawings and gave them to one of his engineers, expecting to hear no more of the matter. Weeks later, to Fould’s astonishment, the engineer reported that the Yourkevitch design principles were better than any he had seen. Fould convened his entire staff to confirm the result. They did.
To this day, Yourkevitch’s design principles are used on every oceangoing vessel launched around the world, including every American aircraft carrier in service. Vladimir Yourkevitch’s name is practically unknown by the public at large, but he was the most influential ship designer of the last century.

I have one more illustration of a supremely impractical thing.


It is Christmas and I come not to bury impracticability but to praise it. For when reading the passages of Advent and Christmas, it seems that God is not usually bothered by the practicability of his plans.

Luke 1.5-120
In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years. Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.”

Luke 1.26-35
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.”
Now consider: Zechariah and Mary both know they are talking to an angel. Very impressive company, that; in fact, Gabriel had to tell both of them to calm down and not be afraid. Then the angel pronounces the most amazing news that could be imagine. To Zechariah, that he will have a son who will be a great prophet of the Lord. To Mary, she will have a son who will be the Son of God.

And both Zechariah and Mary immediately question the practicality of it all. “Not so fast,” they both basically say. “There are some practical considerations you have not considered!”

For Zechariah, he’s old and so is his wife. Mary says her prophecy is not possible because she knows there are certain, uh, steps that are required to have a child and she hasn’t taken them.

Zechariah and Mary are talking in person to an angel who tells them of God's amazing plans and therefore presumably isn't just making this stuff up – and all the both of them can say is, "Can't happen, won't work, you've got the wrong person."

Gabriel swatted these objections aside. "Nothing is impossible with God," he told Mary in verse 37. Immanuel, God With Us, is both impractical and improbable, seen from our perspective, and yet Jesus was born, God in the flesh. God willing, we will never be so practical minded that we shun God's plans, for our impractical God is not a God of practicalities, but of miracles.



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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Jesus, Joseph and the Marvelous Exchange

By Donald Sensing

A homily for Christmas Eve

Matthew 1.18-25:

18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 1She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ 22All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23 ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel’,
which means, ‘God is with us.’ 24When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
He was faced with a detestable duty. He was a man of compassion, even tenderness. But he was also a man honor, a man of stern code. His obedience to the Law was unwavering. The moment he learned that his fiancé was pregnant he knew that it was the end. The end, certainly, of their betrothment, and perhaps even the end of her life.

It was two millennia ago in the Roman-occupied land of Judea. The man was named Joseph. His fiancé was Mary. She was going to have a baby and it sure was not his. Compassion, honor and duty dueled within Joseph. He could not pretend there was no problem. She obviously had betrayed him. The whole town of Nazareth was watching.

Finally, Joseph decided Mary would have to pay the price for infidelity as his honor and the Law required, but tempered with mercy. Joseph determined to break his engagement to Mary and dismiss her from his life without fanfare, leaving her to fend for herself. It would clear the slate, restore his honor and was as least hurtful to the young woman as any just solution could be.
What the outcome might have been by Joseph’s plan we don’t know, because God revealed to him what was really going on, and Joseph changed his mind.

Joseph dreamed of an angel, who informed Joseph that Mary’s unborn child was of the Holy Spirit. The angel gave Joseph instructions: take Mary home as his wife and adopt Mary’s child as his own, giving him the name Jesus, an ordinary name then, meaning,“God helps.”

These things came to pass. In Joseph’s day, when a Jewish man gave a name to the child born to his wife, he was confirming the child as his own. Maybe others knew that Joseph was not the baby’s natural father, maybe they didn’t. It didn’t matter. When Joseph named the baby Jesus, he was also giving to Jesus his own identity, his own lineage. That is why Jesus could truly be said to be of the line of David, because Joseph was of David’s line and Joseph adopted Jesus as his own son. When Joseph named the child Jesus he was telling the world, “This child belongs to me, this child is my child.”

We give Joseph short shrift, perhaps because Joseph is treated somewhat cursorily in the Gospels. Mary gets a lot more play. Joseph never speaks. Joseph hears, Joseph dreams, Joseph acts and Joseph obeys, but not even one syllable of his speaking is related. Mary is the one with the speaking part. Her role is the most sought after in Christmas pageants.

Another pastor told me of one afternoon before the annual Christmas program, when a mother phoned the church office to say that her son, who was to play Joseph in the children's play, was sick and wouldn't be able to be there. “It's too late now to get another Joseph,” the director of the play said. “We'll just have to write him out of the script.” And they did. Joseph is easy to overlook and leave out.

In 1993, my wife played Mary in the Christmas pageant at our church. She got the part only because they needed our two-month-old daughter to play the baby Jesus, there being no other small infant in the congregation. Cathy and Elizabeth, Mary and Jesus, were a package deal, couldn’t get one without the other. But any guy off the street could have played Joseph. In fact, the pastor actually asked me, “Don, did you want to play Joseph or should I get a man from the choir to play him?” I said I would, but talk about feeling like a fifth wheel ... .

But more is going on with Joseph than is first apparent. A recurring theme of St. Paul is that Jesus' followers are adopted by God and made children of God, brothers and sisters of Christ. This should make us reconsider the significance of where Joseph fits in with God’s work. Joseph’s adoption of Jesus is highly significant.

What if Joseph had said no to the angel and had sent Mary away anyway? Can we imagine Jesus growing up in the home of an unwed, single mother, both Mary and Jesus therefore outcast from society? How would Jesus have conceived of God as his heavenly Father if Joseph had never taken on the role of Jesus’ earthly father? But father to Jesus Joseph was.

God adopts Jesus’ disciples as sons and daughters of God in the family of God. But first, God sent his Son to be adopted by Joseph into the family of mortals. Joseph affirmed on behalf of all humanity that God belongs with us, "God with us."

The symmetry of God being born into humanity and humanity thence being adopted to become, as Second Peter puts it, “partakers of the divine nature” is called the “marvelous exchange” in Roman Catholic catechism and theosis, or divinization, in the Eastern Church. It is to realize that God becomes one of us so that we may become like him, and so are perfected to live forever with God.

Theologian George Weigel explains, “God ‘exchanges’ his divinity for our humanity, thus enabling us to ‘exchange’ our weakness for his divine glory – the glory of which the angels sing to the shepherds of Bethlehem.” St. Paul proclaimed in Second Corinthians, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

This is possible because of the power of God, of course, but also because of the strength of Joseph. Joseph adopted the Son of God as the child of humankind, and through Christ God adopts you and me as children of God. This is a marvelous exchange indeed! Should we not see the symmetry of salvation and relationship – dare we say partnership – at work in the will of God and the obedience of Joseph? We see in Joseph’s story that we and God belong to each other in the one whom Joseph named Jesus, “God helps.”

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The government finance shell game

By Donald Sensing

USAID gives dollars to China.

That's to say, we borrow money from China to give to China. Oh, don't worry. It's only a few million, and most of it goes to "promote clean energy." It sounds so reasonable when you put it like that. Who among us hasn't borrowed money from his loan shark in order to buy his loan shark a hybrid?
Have to say I agree with this: "Government finance has become a giant shell game in which there is no ball to find."

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

North Korea: What do you do when your god dies?

By Donald Sensing

That's "god," not "God:"



Found at Video: The weeping North Koreans

Don’t just sample the clip for 10 seconds. Watch to the end and drink in the full spectacle of grown men, prostrate, screaming in grief at the death of their subjugator. I take it state media beamed this out to show the world how unlikely a North Korean Spring is; it might be their first honest moment. Count me in with Michael Totten and Dan Foster in thinking these histrionics are more genuine than we’d like to believe. After all, lesser cult leaders like Jim Jones and Marshall Applewhite have asked and gotten more from their followers than this; surely a few tears were in order in Pyongyang upon learning that God is dead. The whole point of totalitarian conditioning is to draw this reaction without needing soldiers to stand just out of frame pointing rifles at the crowd. Go figure that it actually works on some people.
You cannot reason someone out of something that they were never reasoned into.
The god is dead. Long live the new god!

Totalitarianism must evolve into a religion to survive. The cultic center of the religion must be the dictator. In Lenin's Russia, the religion was communism. Lenin and the party changed it to Marxism-Leninism, but Lenin did not live long enough to become a true cultic center.

Lenin's successor, Stalin, did, with all Stalinism's attendant horrors. After Stalin died in 1953, the Party determined that no general secretary would become a cultic figure again. Instead, they substituted a theology of an Ideal Time and a reformed humanity, the goal being formally announced in 1964 by GenSec Leonid Brezhnev as the attainment of True Communism.
Marxism is an eschatological ideology (a godless religion in its own right, really). The ideal time is when "the workers control the means of production" after the capitalists have been violently overthrown. Lee Harris explained the basic tenets of Marxism, and its fundamental flaws, in his excellent essay, "The Intellectual Origins of America-Bashing." Suffice it to say here that Marx considered revolution by the oppressed both essential and inevitable for true socialism to be established. This was a political version of Judgment Day, when the wicked capitalists would be judged and destroyed so that the pure in heart (the heavily romanticized working classes) could attain the Ideal Time.

This appealing but basically foolish ideology held power in the USSR for 70 years, abandoned long before its end by almost all the working classes themselves and most of the ruling class. Soviet communism became a shell game in which commissars and higher ranks lived large and the masses merely lived. Its Ideal Time, however, was hammered home by the propagandists as just around the corner. True Communism was always coming soon, a state in which material production was so great that all human needs were met without shortage. Greed would therefore disappear and the inherent but capitalist-suppressed natural nobility of men and women would emerge. They would be transformed into true communists - altruists who worked each day for the good of the people, not for crass, selfish profit.
That year, 1964, really marked the beginning of the long decline of Soviet communism because non-cultic True Communism required an exhaustively worked and intellectually rigorous theology founded on rationalistic, not cultic, bases. That eliminated Stalinism once for all and Brezhnevism never got started. But without a cultic figure the center would not hold. Brezhnev ruled from 1964 until his death in 1982. After his death, the USSR went through general secretaries like a kid eating candy until it dissolved in 1990-1991. Brezhnev's 18-year tenure is what made the USSR last as long as it did after Stalin's death.

The Party's problem with trying to remake the empire on a non-cultic, intellectual religion was that the state had to devote great efforts and resources into reasoning and educating its people into the religion, beginning the arduous process in pre-school and never ceasing it.

Cultic tyranny's major efforts are domestic, to maintain the regime and its supporting apparatus. Foreign and military endeavors by cultic dictators tend to do poorly because the apparatchiks are selected and elevated based on their loyalty to the leader, not their basic competence in their duties. So: for Stalin, the Great Patriotic War; for Saddam Hussein the Iran War, the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War - all bungled jobs by their cultic leaders.

It was not until the Communist Party of the Soviet Union ejected cultism from its ideology that the USSR became genuinely dangerous to the West. Brezhnev was never a cult figure, instead he was the leader of a triumphant, missionary religion. True Communism brought the USSR into nuclear-military-superpower status. It was under the banner of True communism that the USSR sponsored "wars of national liberation" in Asia and Africa and sought to subvert the governments of Europe and many others. Soviet-sponsored terrorist cells flourished in western Europe, such as the Rote Armee Fraktion in West Germany. Blessedly for the West and the world, Brezhnev was not succeeded by young, vigorous true believers but by aged Party-climbing apparatchiks who each had not long to live, until Mikhail Gorbachev became general secretary. Gorbachev, however, was no true believer and True Communism held no thrall over him. Even before the Berlin Wall was hammered down, he and almost the whole regime were mightily glad to be quit of it.

Intellectually and religiously both, True Communism simply sputtered out, having been built on foundations of sand to begin with. Having exhausted itself by reasoning the people into True Communism, the state never recognized that people who are reasoned into something can be reasoned out (or reason themselves out), and there were more than enough smart Russians to figure out the flaws and inherent, fatal contradictions of the whole, phony system. (The coerced member states of the USSR pretty much never bought into this Russian religion in the first place.)

And so the whole intellectual, rationlistic-but-fragile edifice of True Communism could be brought crashing to ruin by, for example, asking the very simple question, "Who will carry the sewage under communism?"
"Take Kiev, for instance, and see how much of its one and a half million inhabitants arranges his own sewerage system, in his free time, and cleans it and maintains it in good order.

"Who, under communism, will bury the corpses? Will it be self-service or will amateurs carry out the work in their spare time? There is plenty of dirty work in a society and not everyone is a general or a diplomat. Who will carve up the pig carcasses? And who will sweep the streets and cart off the rubbish? . . . Will there be any waiters under communism? . . .

"And finally, for someone who at present has not the slightest idea about how to set about sewage-cleaning, like Comrade Yakubovskiy himself for instance, has he any personal interest at all in the arrival of that day, when he will have to clean up his own crap all by himself? . . .

"What, exactly, does an ordinary, run-of-the-mill Secretary of the District Party Committee stand to gain from this communism? Eh? Plenty of caviar? But he’s got so much caviar already that he can even eat it through his [rear end] if he wishes. A car? But he has two personal Volga cars and a private one as well. Medical care? Food, women, a country house? But he already has all these things. So our dear Secretary of the most Godforsaken District Party Committee stands to gain bugger-all from communism!"
North Korea decades ago ceased to be communist in any sense of the word. Kim Il Sung's objective was never communism, it was dictatorship, a goal he achieved brilliantly. Since then the overriding imperative of the regime has been simply stated and easily enforced: maintain the status quo for the regime no matter the cost in lives and treasure to the rest of the country.

What will change with the apparent succession to the throne of his grandson, Kim Jong Un? Let us hope nothing will. The country is making plenty of trouble in the world now. May its cultic religion remain, for if North Korea's dictator(s) ever get converted to a theology of True Communism, there will really be trouble, indeed.

Update: R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has more.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

What do you do when your god dies?

By Donald Sensing


Please click here to get to the post. Due to a formatting error, I reposted it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Two perfect records wrecked today

By Donald Sensing

Two NFL teams with perfect records got those records wrecked today.

The formerly undefeated Green Bay packers went down in a shocker to Kansas City, 19-4. That makes the Packers's W-L numbers 13-1.

At the same time, for formerly winless Indianapolis Colts beat the Tennessee Titans 27-13, making the Colts 1-13.

Isn't that a curious coincidence? I am reminded of Yogi Berra's observation, "It's too coincidental to be a coincidence."

Obviously, the number of wins and losses in the NFL must equal. After all, in every game one teams loses and the other wins (disregarding the extremely rare tie game, allowed by rule but very difficult actually to obtain).

And if the Packers had won today and the Colts also, the ratio of 1:1 win-loss across the league would not have changed. Still, it's almost eerie that both teams had a "1" entered onto their respective records at the same time. Seems sort of cosmic... .

But there is no determinism at work here. Going into today's game, there were six teams with 10-3 records, but none with 3-10.

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How to fall asleep the right way

By Donald Sensing

Bayou Renaissance Man: Can't sleep?

It works, mate!

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Failed Democrat Pol Sues Critics for "loss of livelihood"

By Donald Sensing

Failed Democrat Pol Sues Critics Over Election Loss - Peter Roff (usnews.com):

When voters in Ohio's 1st Congressional District threw Democrat Steve Driehaus out of office after only one term, he did not bow out gracefully. No, he decided to get even. So he did what anyone does in today's culture: he sued somebody.

Charging that its activities contributed to his defeat and thus to his "loss of livelihood," Driehaus is suing the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that supports pro-life candidates for Congress and which has been one of the leading and most effective organizations involved in the fight to cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood.

During the 2010 elections the Susan B. Anthony List engaged in a campaign to identify and call out a group of allegedly anti-abortion-rights members of Congress who provided the margin that allowed President Barack Obama's reform of the nation's healthcare system to get through the U.S. House of Representatives. The Susan B. Anthony List said their vote in favor of the law, which did not include any pro-life protections, amounted to a betrayal of their pro-life principles.

According to Driehaus, who was one of that group, what the Susan B. Anthony List said in its public communications amounted to a malicious lie that contributed to his defeat. Amazingly, rather than laugh the suit out of court U.S. District Court judge Timothy S. Black, an Obama appointee, is allowing it to go forward. ...

Driehaus's suit is breaking new legal ground and may already be having a very chilling effect on political speech. It goes directly at the heart of our First Amendment protections and criminalizes what is at least a difference of opinion. And it's curious that the case has not received more attention from the national press.

What is equally curious, however, is why Judge Black has allowed the case to move forward and why he did not recuse himself from it since, as Barbara Hollingsworth reported Friday in The Washington Examiner, he apparently is the former president and director of the Planned Parenthood Association of Cincinnati. As seeming conflicts of interest go this one is a real humdinger.
As I posted, "Democrats to America: Just Shut Up!"

It's no surprise that Judge Black decided to hear the case. Democrats on the bench are neither appointed nor sitting to apply the laws fairly and impartially. The "progressive" agenda does not allow for it. Instead, the entire progressive array embraces "anarcho-tyranny."
The late Samuel Francis coined and defined the word "anarcho-tyranny":
What we have in this country today, then, is both anarchy (the failure of the state to enforce the laws) and, at the same time, tyranny—the enforcement of laws by the state for oppressive purposes; the criminalization of the law-abiding and innocent through exorbitant taxation, bureaucratic regulation, the invasion of privacy, and the engineering of social institutions, such as the family and local schools; the imposition of thought control through "sensitivity training" and multiculturalist curricula, "hate crime" laws, gun-control laws that punish or disarm otherwise law-abiding citizens but have no impact on violent criminals who get guns illegally, and a vast labyrinth of other measures. In a word, anarcho-tyranny. [...]

The laws that are enforced are either those that extend or entrench the power of the state and its allies and internal elites ... or else they are the laws that directly punish those recalcitrant and "pathological" elements in society who insist on behaving according to traditional norms—people who do not like to pay taxes, wear seat belts, or deliver their children to the mind-bending therapists who run the public schools; or the people who own and keep firearms, display or even wear the Confederate flag, put up Christmas trees, spank their children, and quote the Constitution or the Bible—not to mention dissident political figures who actually run for office and try to do something about mass immigration by Third World populations.
There is on the whole not much to admire about Francis's body of work, but he hit the 10-ring here. Considering that he died in 2005, it is impressive how he was a precursor to much of today's criticism of the political class.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Republicans want you to die, part 5

By Donald Sensing

Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

The Republicans "have attached a poison pill -- literally, colleagues -- because it will kill 8,100 more people more than would have otherwise been killed from pollution," Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Cali.) said on the Senate floor today about Republicans trying to roll back a Clean Air Act provision.

Republicans included a measure to kill an EPA regulation in their payroll tax cut proposal.

"So have that for a Christmas gift," Boxer said after she scared people with the 8,100 number.
Video at the link.

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Cluelessness defined and displayed

By Donald Sensing

I don't even need to add a comment. Just watch.



It's just "fantasy theater."

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This what $5 Trillion has bought

By Donald Sensing




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Obama v. Clinton for "first black president" title

By Donald Sensing

Which is the real "first black president?" Douglas Wilder ponders the question.
L. Douglas Wilder was governor of Virginia from 1990 to 1994. He was America's first elected African-American governor. On Politico he asks whether Obama is better for blacks (politically) than Clinton was. And Wilder doesn't think so.

I asked back in August, "Is Barack Obama a black president?"
I trust the reader will see that the question posed by this post's title is unrelated to President Obama's ancestry, but, rather, with his American ethnic identification.

That Obama is an African-American is not the question. The question is, Is Barack Obama a black American? And to this question, I think the answer is at best open.

Consider the president's biography. He has no ancestor who was part of the historic black experience in America. His mother was white and his father was Kenyan. What do I mean by the "black experience?" I'll let black Americans answer that.
And I quoted some prominent black Americans on what it meant to live the black experience in America. This is an experience that Obama never lived.
The black American "two-cultures" environment, which was (and still very much is) so central to their lives, was absent from Obama's upbringing. He lived in Hawaii from birth to high school graduation, where the racial friction has always been between Hawaii natives and whites rather than between whites and blacks. Second, he spent ages 6-10 in Indonesia. This is not the childhood the the black experience in America, in which blacks grow up in and spend adulthood in a black culture that "is heavily southern American," even for northern blacks.

The experience of being raised in a distinct black culture, surrounded by whites and significantly controlled by them, is to be immersed in a culture with its own historic baggage of slavery and subsequent racism and Jim Crow, a culture with its own music and coded jargon and Southern Gospel religious heritage. This is a culture that has never been part of Barack Obama's experience. It is literally alien to him.

Even in 2007, this disparity led Time Magazine to ask, "Is Obama Black Enough?"
And so Gov. Wilder now ponders,
Yet here we sit, more than three years after Obama’s win, and too many people are pulling me aside in private to ask why his standing in the African-American community has softened since his Inauguration. They also question whether the reduced excitement among young and new voters — with that lack of enthusiasm from African-Americans — might hinder Obama’s 2012 campaign. ...

Obama was elected in a flourish of promise that many in the African-American community believed would help not only to symbolize African-American progress since the Civil War and Civil Rights Acts but that his presidency would result in doors opening in the halls of power as had never been seen before by black America.

Has that happened? I am forced to say, “No” — especially when comparing Morrison’s metaphorical first black president to the actual first black president.

Obama was elected in a flourish of promise that many in the African-American community believed would help not only to symbolize African-American progress since the Civil War and Civil Rights Acts but that his presidency would result in doors opening in the halls of power as had never been seen before by black America.
Has that happened? I am forced to say, “No” — especially when comparing Morrison’s metaphorical first black president to the actual first black president.
Like I did in my post, Wilder cites Toni Morison's claim that Bill Clinton was America's "first black president." But Wilder, while understanding her point, does not embrace it. Nonetheless,
By birth and life experience, Clinton cannot lay claim to the title of first black president — as Morrison knighted him. But Obama needs to work harder to make it less obvious that Clinton, in governing deed, actually deserves it more that the 44th president does.
A lot of whites voted for Barack Obama in 2008 because he would be the first black American president. But as Gov. Wilder implicitly acknowledges, he's not in any respect except skin tone, and this has done nothing to improve the lives of black Americans economically or politically. Will this make a difference in 2012? I think it will, and not only among whites.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hurricane predictors hang it up

By Donald Sensing

Hurricane predictors admit they can’t predict hurricanes:
Two top U.S. hurricane forecasters, revered like rock stars in Deep South hurricane country, are quitting the practice because it doesn’t work.

William Gray and Phil Klotzbach say a look back shows their past 20 years of forecasts had no value.

The two scientists from Colorado State University will still discuss different probabilities as hurricane seasons approach — a much more cautious approach. But the shift signals how far humans are, even with supercomputers, from truly knowing what our weather will do next.
So, these two men, acknowledged leaders in their field, admit that they cannot predict mere weather - and only a specific kind of weather at that - only a few months ahead. And yet, global warming alarmists claim they predict with flawless accuracy what the entire global climate will be many decades from now.

In fact, the mask was lifted off hurricane prediction a long time ago. No one ever paid attention to hurricane forecasts anyway.

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Democrats to America: Just shut up!

By Donald Sensing

It seems that the administration and some of its allies in Congress simply want you and me to just shut up on certain topics - a range that is sure to be expanded if they get their way.


"Shame on you! Shut up! Just shut up!"
First, Politico reports that the Hillary-headed State Department is coordinating with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation - a cartel of 56 Islamic states - to stifle Americans' rights to talk or write about Islam as they want to.
The State Department began a three-day, closed-door meeting Monday to talk about U.S. free speech rules with representatives from numerous Islamic governments that have lobbied for 12 years to end U.S. citizens’ ability to speak freely about Islam’s history and obligations. ...

The more realistic explanation for the three-day event, [activist Andrea] Lafferty said, is that administration officials, progressives and OIC officials are tacitly cooperating to gradually stigmatize speech that is critical of Islam.

Lafferty pointed to a July statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in which she said that free speech will be protected, but the U.S. government will “use some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.”
Second: Democrat US Representatives Theodore Deutch, Peter DeFazo, Alcee Hastings, and Jim McDermott, and Democrat Senator Bernie Sanders are introducing resolutions for a Constitutional amendment that would take scissors to the First Amendment. Eugene Volokh explains, also here.

But nothing is new about all this. Consider the administrations new fascination with bullying.
Suddenly bullying in schools, which has been with us for as long as there have been schools, has been elevated to a "crisis." When this happens, people who were not born yesterday look for the agenda. And we find it written in large capital letters, in a scheme to impose "gay-straight alliances" on unwilling Catholic and private Christian schools, and otherwise extend the reach of "LGBT" propaganda into places where it is especially unwelcome.

This political method is itself a ripe example of bullying. Victimhood status is declared on behalf of a favoured group, emotionally-loaded examples of apparent victimizing are publicized, and the "crisis" is declared. Powers are sought by activists on behalf of such victims.

Those who resist their power grab are demonized. This is the way every "progressive" cause is advanced. It works, because no one could want to be publicly tarred.
And so New York Democrats have announced that the First Amendment is a privilege (presumably, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution should now be called, "The Bill of Privileges").
AND YET, PROPONENTS OF A MORE REFINED FIRST AMENDMENT ARGUE THAT THIS FREEDOM SHOULD BE TREATED NOT AS A RIGHT BUT AS A PRIVILEGE – A SPECIAL ENTITLEMENT GRANTED BY THE STATE ON A CONDITIONAL BASIS THAT CAN BE REVOKED IF IT IS EVER ABUSED OR MALTREATED.
(All caps in original)

These processes are all examples of Leftist mind control at work. Remember that Leftism is the ideology that people have too much freedom with which to make too many stupid choices. And so the Left's fascination and natural affinity with absolutist Islamic governments. They both want to decide what we proles may think and say.

More examples:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/post/overkill-on-internet-piracy/2011/12/11/gIQA9TK6nO_blog.html

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/technology/198687-internet-piracy-bill-a-free-speech-kill-switch

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Newt Gingrich takes third no-adultery pledge

By Donald Sensing

Angel Michael - not running for president
An Iowa social conservative group called The Family Leader asked presidential candidates to sign a "sweeping pledge on marriage and abortion over the summer." At the time, Newt Gingrich declined to sign it. However,
Now, Gingrich has answered the pledge with a lengthy written response, vowing to support a federal marriage amendment, reinstate the Mexico City policy -- and, per the stipulations of The Family Leader pledge, to be faithful to his wife:
I also pledge to uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others.
This is the third such pledge Newt has taken. The first two went like this:
Officiant: Name, will you have Name to be your wife, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?

Newt: I will.
Obviously, I do not know Newt's marriage vows exactly, but this excerpt is very mainline. So this is his third no adultery vow, the first two having been during his two wedding services.

However much infidelity repulses, though, I have to echo Milton Friedman's question, "Where do we find the angels" we would all like to hold the offices of our land? They ain't running.

Update: Okay, it's really his fourth pledge.

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Pepper spraying woman may sue Walmart

By Donald Sensing

The woman who pepper sprayed other shoppers in a Walmart on Black Friday is considering a lawsuit again the giant retailer for failing to provide security.

It was widely reported that Elizabeth Macias, whose name was unknown at the time of the incident, had pepper sprayed other shoppers to move them out of her way so she could grab an item before it sold out. However, she says that she was trying to rescue her two children, who were being attacked by shoppers as they tried to obtain video games.
Elizabeth Macias, 32, said she fired the stinging spray after shoppers attacked her two teenage children as they tried to obtain X-Box video game consoles for purchase, attorney Michael Champ, Macias' lawyer, told CBS News' Los Angeles station KCBS Friday.

At one point, her son was on the ground, being punched by a man and her daughter also was being punched and kicked, Champ said.

The teens were traumatized, he said. ...

Det. Mike Fesperman of the Los Angeles Police Department told the Los Angeles Times it's possible that Macias used the pepper spray in self-defense.

"I'm not saying it was right. It could have been a situation that she was in fear for her safety, that she would be crushed," Fesperman said.
Seems like pre-emptive lawyering to me.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thoughts from Father Abraham

By Donald Sensing

If the shoe fits ... .

If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we must live through all time, or die by suicide.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.
Any society that takes away from those most capable and gives to the least will perish.
Few can be induced to labor exclusively for posterity. Posterity has done nothing for us.
No man is good enough to govern another man without that other man’s consent.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence.
Let every man remember that to violate the law is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own and his children’s liberty. Let reverence for the laws ... become the political religion of the nation.
If ever this free people, if this Government itself is ever utterly demoralized, it will come from this incessant human wriggle and struggle for office, which is but a way to live without work.
We have to distrust each other. It’s our only defense against betrayal.
Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.
Property is the fruit of labor; property is desirable; is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that others may become rich and, hence, is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus, by example, assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.
It has ever been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.
Source

And:
There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no one independence quite so important, as living within your means. – Calvin Coolidge

Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing. - Thomas Jefferson

I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have. – Thomas Jefferson

Never spend your money before you have earned it. - Thomas Jefferson

Things do not happen. Things are made to happen. – John F. Kennedy
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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Europe's bobbing head

By Donald Sensing

"Hey, Europe, Great Job With The Smoke And Mirrors, Too Bad You Didn't Fix A Thing"
http://www.businessinsider.com/europe-deal-did-not-fix-problem-2011-12

Europe is like a drowning man whose head keeps bobbing above the water. But the drowning continues all the same.

47 percenters

By Donald Sensing

WE ARE THE 47%: “A recent Gallup poll found that 47% of American households own a gun, up from 41% just a year ago.”

Let's see:

  • 47 percent of American households own a firearm
     
  • 47 percent of American adults pay no federal income tax at all.
Coincidence?

That figure of 47 percent paying no federal income tax dates from 2009, btw, and is almost certainly at or even over 50 percent now.

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President Nowhere

By Donald Sensing

Does he even know who is looking back?
Works and Days » The President Who Never Was:
What are we left with in the end? Empty soaring rhetoric of the day, as the president without an identity desperately searches for one about every three months. In the old days the masks were a Bill Ayers for revolutionary fervor, or a Rev. Wright for black fides. Now they are dead presidents.

Where does this lead? Nowhere. ...

The next year will be nothing but more teenage petulance. The world has disappointed Barack Obama. Like any adolescent, he will keep reinventing himself, endlessly trying on new presidential masks and blasting “them” who were not so charmed. What else can a man without an identity do, a president who never really was?
Read the whole thing.

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