Thursday, September 30, 2010
The Great U-Turn - James C. Bennett - National Review Online: "Admirers and detractors of the United States agree on one point: This country is unusually resistant to the social consensus and set of structures broadly known as “social democracy” or “progressivism.” (Social democracy leans more toward state ownership, progressivism toward state regulation.) Various versions of such schemes have prevailed in Western Europe and Japan, and to a lesser degree in Britain, Canada, and Australia. The characteristics include a wider scope and role for the state, centralization of decision-making in a national bureaucracy, monopolization of power by a set of large institutions, including state-champion corporations and labor unions, and a wide variety of social entitlements for all citizens."
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Why the Stuxnet worm is like nothing seen before - tech - 27 September 2010 - New Scientist: "On 26 September, Iran's state news agency reported that computers at its Bushehr nuclear power plant had been infected by Stuxnet.
New Scientist explains the significance of the worm."
Parchment and Pen » ARE MORMONS CHRISTIANS 19: Glenn Beck and that Question Again: "Mormon doctrine in two minutes
The main objection to viewing Beck as an advocate for the gospel is that the theology of the LDS Church, of which Beck is a member, is radically incompatible with the biblical gospel. The divide between biblical teaching and Mormon doctrine is so wide that from an evangelical perspective Mormonism falls outside the circle of acceptable, authentic expressions of the Christian faith. The crucial problems with LDS doctrine that impinge directly on one’s view of Jesus Christ and the gospel include the following unbiblical claims:"
- All human beings preexisted in heaven, where they were the offspring of heavenly parents (God the Father and a “heavenly mother”), before their natural conception here on earth.
- Our Heavenly Father was a man who became a God—proving that we, too, can become gods.
- Jesus Christ is the “firstborn” of God’s billions of spirit children and the first of those children to become a God.
- As such, Christ is one of three Gods in the “Godhead,” as is the Holy Spirit, another of God’s spirit sons.
- Christ is the “Only Begotten,” which means that he is the only human being whom God the Father literally begat in the flesh. God is Jesus’ literal father in the flesh (allowing Jesus to “inherit” some divine powers other humans do not have) and Mary is his literal mother.
- Christ’s atonement guarantees immortal life in some heavenly kingdom to virtually all human beings, including those who willfully reject Christ.
- Christ (and God the Father) appeared to Joseph Smith to tell him to join none of the churches because all of them were wrong and their creeds were an abomination.
- Through Joseph Smith, God restored lost scriptures (e.g., the Book of Mormon) and inspired new ones (Doctrine & Covenants), from which Mormons learn the doctrines that set them apart from the rest of Christianity.
- Christ organized the only true Church in these latter days with a hierarchical system of “priesthood authority” required to teach or baptize others.
- Full forgiveness of sins and entrance into the highest heavenly kingdom, where God and Christ live, come to those who become members of the LDS Church, follow its teachings, and participate in its temple rituals, notably baptisms and other rites performed on behalf of the dead.
- The ultimate goal of the gospel and of LDS religion is to become gods, with the same powers and potential as the Heavenly Father.
Monday, September 27, 2010
TaxProf Blog: 60% of Economists: Extend Bush Tax Cuts for Everyone: "[A] majority of a panel of leading economists surveyed by CNNMoney.com said that the tax cuts should be renewed for everyone."
Commentary » Blog Archive » Obama Justice Department Rocked: "The former head of the Justice Department’s New Black Panther trial team, Chris Coates, testified Friday before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. See here and here and here (subscription required). Before Coates broke his silence, the commission’s critics, a minority of the commissioners, and the mainstream media insisted that the dismissal of a slam-dunk voter-intimidation case had no significance beyond the single incident on Election Day 2008. However, Coates’s account of the administration’s hostility to race-neutral enforcement of voting laws and refusal to enforce Section 8 of the Voting Rights Act (requiring that states clean up their voting rolls to prevent voter fraud) blew that assertion to smithereens."
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Patriotism Falsely Impugned | FactCheck.org: "Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida is falsely accusing his opponent of evading the Vietnam War draft, claiming 'he doesn’t love this country.'
Republican candidate Daniel Webster didn’t 'refuse the call to service,' as claimed in a vicious TV ad featuring pictures of military graves and the sound of 'Taps' being played on a bugle. In fact, the former Florida Senate majority leader was given routine student deferments until he completed his undergraduate degree. He then reported for a military physical and was disqualified for medical reasons."
Friday, September 24, 2010
Block-I chant portrays ‘neither patriotism nor remembrance’ | The Daily Illini: "The observance at Saturday’s football game was no different. A moment of silence was followed by a military airplane flyover; in between, Block-I students chanted “USA, USA.” This was neither patriotism nor remembrance in any justifiable sense, but politicization, militarism, propaganda and bellicosity. The University is a public institution that encompasses the political views of all, not just the most (falsely) “patriotic.” Athletic planners should cease such exploitation for political purposes. They might at least consider how most Muslim students, American or otherwise, would respond to this nativist display; or better, Muslims and others that live their lives under the threat of our planes, drones and soldiers.
The overwhelmingly white, privileged, Block-I students should be ashamed of their obnoxious, fake-macho, chicken-hawk chant, while poverty-drafted members of their cohort fight and die in illegal and immoral wars for the control of oil. University administrators need to eliminate from all events such “patriotic” observances, which in this country cannot be separated from implicit justifications for state-sponsored killing."
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
DISCLOSE vote will wait for high-dollar fundraiser - Ben Smith - POLITICO.com: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just scheduled a vote on the DISCLOSE Act, which would force donors to publish their involvement in political ad campaigns, for Thursday.
Why not tomorrow, you might ask? Because there are no votes in the Senate scheduled for tomorrow. And that may be, in part, because there's something else going on tomorrow: A big New York fundraiser for the Senate Democrats."
Hot Air » Fundraiser: Jesse Jackson Jr offered Blagojevich millions for Obama’s Senate seat: "This would be the same Jesse Jackson Jr who was first identified almost two years ago in connection with pay for play vis-a-vis the appointment. A direct quote from the time: “It is impossible for someone on my behalf to have a conversation that would suggest any type of quid pro quo or any payments or offers. An impossiblity to an absolute certainty.” Not only that, but he then turned around and insisted — unconvincingly — that he was actually an informant in the case helping the feds to stamp out corruption. Now this."
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Unions Find Members Slow to Rally Behind Democrats - NYTimes.com: "Labor leaders, alarmed at a possible Republican takeover of one or both houses of Congress, promise to devote a record amount of money and manpower to helping Democrats stave off disaster. But political analysts, and union leaders themselves, say that their efforts may not be enough because union members, like other important parts of the Democratic base, are not feeling particularly enthusiastic about the party — a reality that, in turn, further dampens the Democrats’ chances of holding onto their Congressional majorities."
Friday, September 17, 2010
The Entitlement Bubble: The Bust Is Going to Be a Nightmare - Exchequer - National Review Online: "In the course of arguing that our real national debt is around $130 trillion — as opposed to the official number of $14.7 trillion — I have frequently encountered the argument that I’m wrong to include unfunded entitlement liabilities in the total. Here’s a typical example from the comments to this post:
Kevin Williamson, expected spending 75 years in the future, based on current policies and projects that are certain to change anyway, is NOT debt. No amount of calling it “debt” or calling it “our REAL debt” changes that fact. Project funding gaps are not debt. DEBT is debt.
About that, a few things.
The first and most obvious thing is that in much of the real world, liabilities of that type are defined as debt, as your favorite corporate accountant will tell you. One of the reasons that American companies started filing all those unhappy financial restatements after the passage of Obamacare was that they had a whole lot of new, measurable, real-world financial liabilities, and they are obliged to include those in their disclosures."
Thursday, September 16, 2010
The Something-for-nothing Quandary | Cato @ Liberty: "Most of the debate over extending the Bush tax cuts has focused on whether to extend slightly lower marginal rates for higher earners who already bear a huge burden. But at the other end of the income spectrum, a growing share of Americans don’t pay income taxes. Indeed, the Bush tax cuts increased the share of U.S. households that pay no income taxes.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Efforts to tame America’s ballooning budget deficit could soon confront a daunting reality: Nearly half of all Americans live in a household in which someone receives government benefits, more than at any time in history.
At the same time, the fraction of American households not paying federal income taxes has also grown—to an estimated 45% in 2010, from 39% five years ago, according to the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan research organization.
A little more than half don’t earn enough to be taxed; the rest take so many credits and deductions they don’t owe anything. Most still get hit with Medicare and Social Security payroll taxes, but 13% of all U.S. households pay neither federal income nor payroll taxes."
The Fleming Health Care Repeal Update: "Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) (an independent and nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress) issued a report finding that the Administration’s Medicare mailer, which cost American taxpayers almost $20 million, inaccurately claimed that the new health care law would not negatively impact seniors’ benefits. Specifically, the GAO found that '[T]he brochure overstates some of [health care reforms’] benefits” (emphasis added).
For example, the mailer promises seniors that the new health care reform “will provide you and your family greater savings and increased quality health care.”
Instead, the GAO found:
* “In our view, the brochure presents a picture of [the new reform law] that is not universally shared. For example, two government analyses have determined that [the health care reform law] reductions in funding for Medicare Advantage may decrease enrollment and result in less generous benefit packages,” and “…significant increases in premiums for some beneficiaries may be necessary” [emphasis added]."
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Assemblies of God Denomination Responds . . . but What Does It Really Mean? - Persevero!: "Recently, I wrote a blog post in which I detailed what I declared was a change that had occurred in the Assemblies of God (AG) denomination’s “Doctrine of Creation” statement. Last month, AG, based in Springfield, Missouri, released this document as an update of its 1977 creation statement.
For reference purposes, here are the two official AG position papers:
* http://ag.org/top/beliefs/Position_Papers/pp_downloads/PP_The_Doctrine_of_Creation.pdf (2010 statement)
* http://ag.org/top/beliefs/position_papers/pp_downloads/pp_4177_creation.pdf (1977 statement)
In my blog post, I claimed the following:"
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Commentary » Blog Archive » Obama Is Borrrring!: "Obama’s public persona is so predictable and his image so overexposed that even the left is over him. He’s gone from fascinating and cool to a crashing bore in less than two years. Greg Sargent: “Seems the consensus is that Obama’s presser [Friday] was way too boring, substantive and unemotional to produce an abrupt and massive enough turnaround in the polls to guarantee in advance that Dems hold their majority.” Ditto, hisses Maureen Dowd: “How did the first president of color become so colorless?” Well, he ran out of catchphrases and revealed himself to be less articulate than George Bush."
George F. Will - Americans have good reason not to believe in Obamanomics: "Looking back with pride, the British are commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, when Churchill said of the pilots fighting the Luftwaffe: Never 'was so much owed by so many to so few.' Looking ahead with trepidation, Americans are thinking: Never have so many of us owed so much."
Thursday, September 09, 2010
A Sad Day for the Assemblies of God Denomination | Around the World with Ken Ham: "The general presbytery of the Assemblies of God (AOG) denomination, in session August 9–11, 2010, adopted a revised statement on “The Doctrine of Creation.” Here is an excerpt from the official AOG position paper, that opens the door to evolution and millions of years, and the various compromise positions on Genesis held by some in the church (such as gap theory, day age, progressive creation, theistic evolution, etc):"
The advance of scientific research, particularly in the last few centuries, has raised many questions about the interpretation of the Genesis accounts of creation. In attempting to reconcile the Bible and the theories and conclusions of contemporary scientists, it should be remembered that the creation accounts do not give precise details as to how God went about His creative activity. Nor do these accounts provide us with complete chronologies that enable us to date with precision the time of the various stages of creation. Similarly, the findings of science are constantly expanding; the accepted theories of one generation are often revised in the next.Update: Rusty has a good post delving into the fallacy of Ham's position.
As a result, equally devout Christian believers have formed very different opinions about the age of the earth, the age of humankind, and the ways in which God went about the creative processes. Given the limited information available in Scripture, it does not seem wise to be overly dogmatic about any particular creation theory.
Whatever creation theory we individually may prefer, we must affirm that the entire creation has been brought into being by the design and activity of the Triune God. Moreover, we also affirm that the New Testament treats the creation and fall of Adam and Eve as historical events in which the Creator is especially involved. We urge all sincere and conscientious believers to adhere to what the Bible plainly teaches and to avoid divisiveness over debatable theories of creation. (“The Doctrine of Creation,” 2010, http://ag.org/top/beliefs/Position_Papers/pp_downloads/PP_The_Doctrine_of_Creation.pdf)
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Lawrence H. White: The German Miracle: Another Look - WSJ.com: "Earlier this summer George Soros and some leading Keynesian economists criticized what they regarded as Germany's overly strict fiscal discipline. Yet Germany's real output expanded at a robust 9% annual rate in the second quarter, while the U.S. economy grew at an anemic 1.6% rate. So is Germany now a role model for how to recover?
In a June op-ed, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble justified his government's decision to cut spending, citing 'aversion to deficits and inflationary fears, which have their roots in German history in the past century.' He was presumably making a reference to the destructive hyperinflation of the 1920s."
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Mind - Research Upends Traditional Thinking on Study Habits - NYTimes.com: "Every September, millions of parents try a kind of psychological witchcraft, to transform their summer-glazed campers into fall students, their video-bugs into bookworms. Advice is cheap and all too familiar: Clear a quiet work space. Stick to a homework schedule. Set goals. Set boundaries. Do not bribe (except in emergencies)."
Take the notion that children have specific learning styles, that some are “visual learners” and others are auditory; some are “left-brain” students, others “right-brain.” In a recent review of the relevant research, published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a team of psychologists found almost zero support for such ideas. “The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing,” the researchers concluded.
Ditto for teaching styles, researchers say. Some excellent instructors caper in front of the blackboard like summer-theater Falstaffs; others are reserved to the point of shyness. “We have yet to identify the common threads between teachers who create a constructive learning atmosphere,” said Daniel T. Willingham, a psychologist at the University of Virginia and author of the book “Why Don’t Students Like School?”
Having observed many students over the years I'm not sure I agree on their take for learning styles. I would like to read more on this research.
Monday, September 06, 2010
Research finds repressed memories don't exist - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation): "Soldiers returning from war zones, victims of violent crime and sexual abuse, can now be helped by cognitive behaviour therapy, where they learn to assign terrible memories to the past, instead of them crowding their present and future.
Professor Devilly says the therapy is working.
'We're now getting, at the end of between 8 and 12 sessions, 90 to 92 per cent of people no longer meet the criteria for PTSD,' he said.
Now psychologists are working to fend off post traumatic stress in high-risk occupations, by teaching recruits to develop resilience."
Roger’s Rules » Back to School?: "There has been a flurry of interest in alternative, internet-based “universities” — I’ve been approached about participating in one such venture myself. Some of these are free, others charge a small fraction of what traditional colleges charge. There is widespread, if still largely anecdotal, evidence that parents and alumni are increasingly disenchanted with the sort of education on offer at most institutions. As I wrote in a piece for The New Criterion a few years ago,
“Many parents are alarmed, rightly so, at the spectacle of their children going off to college one year and coming back the next having jettisoned every moral, religious, social, and political scruple that they had been brought up to believe. Why should parents fund the moral de-civilization of their children at the hands of tenured antinomians? Why should alumni generously support an alma mater whose political and educational principles nourish a world view that is not simply different from but diametrically opposed to the one they endorse? Why should trustees preside over an institution whose faculty systematically repudiates the pedagogical mission they, as trustees, have committed themselves to uphold?”"
This Chaplain Is Protected By God—and by an Atheist--at War - WSJ.com: "They say there are no atheists in foxholes. There's one on the front lines here, though, and the chaplain isn't thrilled about it.
Navy Chaplain Terry Moran is steeped in the Bible and believes all of it. His assistant, Religious Programs Specialist 2nd Class Philip Chute, is steeped in the Bible and having none of it.
Together they roam this town in Taliban country, comforting the grunts while crossing swords with each other over everything from the power of angels to the wisdom of standing in clear view of enemy snipers. Lt. Moran, 48 years old, preaches about divine protection while 25-year-old RP2 Chute covers the chaplain's back and wishes he were more attentive to the dangers of the here and now.
It's a match made in, well, the Pentagon."
Sunday, September 05, 2010
Religious leaders hit back at Hawking - CNN.com: "Religious leaders in Britain on Friday hit back at claims by leading physicist Stephen Hawking that God had no role in the creation of the universe.
In his new book 'The Grand Design,' Britain's most famous scientist says that given the existence of gravity, 'the universe can and will create itself from nothing,' according to an excerpt published in The Times of London.
'Spontaneous creation is the reason why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist,' he wrote.
'It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper [fuse] and set the universe going.'
But the head of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, told the Times that 'physics on its own will not settle the question of why there is something rather than nothing.'"
Happiness - NYTimes.com
How do you spend your Sunday? For many, this traditional day of rest and churchgoing has become a day to shop, but it may be taking a toll on happiness.
Researchers from DePaul University in Chicago and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel tracked church attendance and levels of happiness among Americans living in states that had repealed so-called blue laws, which once required most retailers to stay closed on Sundays.
The researchers found that allowing stores to open on Sundays was linked with a decline in church attendance among white women, which led to a subsequent decline in happiness. Among black women, the repeal of the blue laws had no measurable effect, although that may be because the sample size was too small to draw any statistically meaningful conclusions.
Notably, the finding was true only for women. For men, the repeal of blue laws didn’t seem to influence church attendance or levels of happiness.
Since the repeal of blue laws, women are about 17 percent less likely to report being “pretty happy,” and more likely to report being “not happy,” according to the study, which is still awaiting final publication.
“People know there is a correlation between religiosity and happiness, but there’s not conclusive evidence that there is a causal effect,’’ said William Sander, professor of economics at DePaul. “Our paper tends to provide more conclusive evidence that religiosity among women does affect happiness.’’
Friday, September 03, 2010
Many Liberals Reject Markos Moulitsas's Anti-Conservative Book - Yahoo! News: "A number of liberal writers are condemning American Taliban, the just-released book by prominent liberal blogger and political organizer Markos Moulitsas. Moulitsas, also known as Kos and the chief of prominent website Daily Kos, argues in his book that elements of the U.S. conservative movement are akin to the Taliban, a militant terrorist group responsible for thousands of deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some liberals--though certainly not all--think that's a bad idea. Here's why."
Obama's Misguided Approach: America Has Become Too European - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International: "Is the US economy perhaps suffering less from an economic downturn and more from a serious structural problem? It seems plausible that the American economy has lost its belief in American principles. People no longer have confidence in the self-healing forces of the private sector, and the reliance on self-help and self-regulation to solve problems no longer exists.
The opposite strategy, one that seeks to treat the American patient with more government, is risky -- because it does not fit in with America's image of itself."
Gateway Pundit: "If you are as worried as I am about the left’s effort to force ever larger amounts of big government onto our lives, then you should be looking into the issue of Net Neutrality. To that end a few times a week I’ll be posting some links and info about Net Neutrality to help you all get your feet wet on this important issue.
Here are just a few of the latest articles on Net Neutrality for your information:"
Thursday, September 02, 2010
CBN: ‘Islamization’ of Paris a Warning to the West: "Friday in Paris. A hidden camera shows streets blocked by huge crowds of Muslim worshippers and enforced by a private security force.
This is all illegal in France: the public worship, the blocked streets, and the private security. But the police have been ordered not to intervene."
Ace of Spades HQ: "Manufacturing Consent: I think Noam Chomskey hit upon this idea, and there's something to it.
Suppose there are five possible plausible public reactions to an event or initiative. A, B, C, D, and E, ranging from rightist to leftist, and A and E representing the extremes.
Media debate tends to package C and D -- C, a centristl reaction, and D, a left-center but still mainstream-ish reaction -- as the only two possible reactions, and debates the issue without reference to A, B, and E, as if they don't exist, or, if they do mention them, they are dismissed peremptorily as extremist and wack-a-doo and 'not serious.'
Thus, at the end of the day, the public does get to 'choose'... but only from the two options the media has pre-screened as permissible, C and D. Thus, consent of the governed has been 'manufactured' -- sure, the public chooses between C and D, but their choice was forced -- as a magician forces a card on you -- by a media that carefully insulated them from genuine consideration of A, B, and E."