Monday, November 30, 2015

Re-Blog - This is Not a Day Care

This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt “victimized” by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears that this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love. In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.

I’m not making this up. Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic. Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims. Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them “feel bad” about themselves, is a “hater,” a “bigot,” an “oppressor,” and a “victimizer.”

I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen. That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience. An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad. It is supposed to make you feel guilty. The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins—not coddle you in your selfishness. The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization.

So here’s my advice:

If you want the chaplain to tell you you’re a victim rather than tell you that you need virtue, this may not be the university you’re looking for. If you want to complain about a sermon that makes you feel less than loving for not showing love, this might be the wrong place.

If you’re more interested in playing the “hater” card than you are in confessing your own hate; if you want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn; if you don’t want to feel guilt in your soul when you are guilty of sin; if you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.

At OKWU, we teach you to be selfless rather than self-centered. We are more interested in you practicing personal forgiveness than political revenge. We want you to model interpersonal reconciliation rather than foment personal conflict. We believe the content of your character is more important than the color of your skin. We don’t believe that you have been victimized every time you feel guilty and we don’t issue “trigger warnings” before altar calls.

Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a “safe place”, but rather, a place to learn: to learn that life isn’t about you, but about others; that the bad feeling you have while listening to a sermon is called guilt; that the way to address it is to repent of everything that’s wrong with you rather than blame others for everything that’s wrong with them. This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up.

This is not a day care. This is a university!

Dr. Everett Piper, President

Oklahoma Wesleyan University


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

“GOP and Dem’s switched ideology.”

if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this… “GOP and Dem’s switched ideology"... the Democrats want to take credit for everything from Abraham Lincoln to the Civil Rights Era… but facts just are so hard to come by.

but let us consider the recent Syrian refugee crisis… refugees are fleeing from ISIS in the Middle East, and we are supposed to take them without question… after all, that’s what Europe has done, and we ALL want to be more like Europe, don’t we?

well, conservatives (a.k.a. Republicans here in the US) warned that ISIS would use the cover of refugees to infiltrate into countries and enact terrible acts of terrorism in them… liberals decried this as blatant racism against “brown-skinned” and “POC”… it doesn’t matter if the intelligence agencies of multiple countries warned of this very thing… nope, it must be racism.

with the tragedy that was the Paris terrorist attacks, many people (some becoming suddenly conservative) are saying maybe we should hold off on letting Syrian refugees freely into our countries… a clear case of racism, liberals would say.

which brings me back to who is actually racist… the liberals in the US lay claim to President Roosevelt (FDR) for his generous social policies… and rightly so, as a more Democrat president could hardly be found, except perhaps in Jimmy Carter… FDR is held up to the sun as a shining example of liberalism… but, like Icarus, perhaps they hold him a bit too high.

in 1939, the German transatlantic liner St. Louis sailed from Hamburg, Germany, loaded with almost 1000 Jewish passengers… it was bound for Cuba, but Cuba was not willing to take any more refugees from Europe… with the size of Cuba and following the Great Depression, it can hardly be seen as surprising… however, modern liberals insist FDR rescued us from the Great Depression, so the US was more capable of handling a handful of refugees fleeing from the Kristalnacht pogrom… surely a liberal and Democrat hero such as FDR would welcome them to his bosom and rescue them from the scourge of fascism and racism.

not so much… [cue liberal outrage]… “but FDR was only following the immigration quotas imposed on him by those nasty racist Republicans!”… first, those quotas were passed in Congress by a margin of 323 to 71 (House)… by any measure, this was pretty bi-partisan… second, FDR could have issued an Executive Order to supersede the law.

[cue liberal outrage]… “we thought Republicans were against Executive Orders that were extra-Constitutional”… well, yes… however, i point this out to show that Executive Orders were not unknown to FDR, especially in relation to particular groups of people.

to which i’d like to address your attention to Executive Order 9066, issued by FDR in 1942… you might be more familiar with this as the order that caused thousands of people with Japanese ancestry to be taken from their homes in the US and interned in “evacuation” camps… Congress had not forced FDR to take US citizens from their homes by Executive Order… likewise, FDR could have taken in the Jewish refugees.

what is the point of all this, you might ask… at what point in FDR’s presidency did he switch from Democrat savior to Republican racist?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Pastor Greg Locke on Starbucks Christmas Cups

YOU ASKED FOR MY TAKE ON #MerryChristmasStarbucks SO HERE YOU GO. #PleaseShareThis #HappyThanksgivingEverybody
Posted by Pastor Greg Locke on Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Classically liberal

RE-BLOG: Classically Liberal

There is a lot of poor thinking going on when it comes to poverty. I hear more absurd or irrational statements made about poverty than almost anything else except, perhaps, the environment.

Here are a couple of common errors about poverty and why they are wrong.

The cause of poverty myth: This one is found in statements that usually begin with “Poverty is caused by....” Now it really does not matter how you fill in the blank. Poverty is not caused. It is the default nature of man. It is like asking: “What causes nudity?” Nothing! We are born naked.

As the saying goes we come into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing. Poverty is the natural state of existence while wealth is artificial. Wealth is created. Wealth, like clothes, has a cause where poverty does not. The proper question to ask is what causes wealth not what causes poverty?

If you understand the wealth creation process then you can see ways to end poverty. And when you realize that wealth creation is a process you can investigate what blocks it. Almost without exception the process is blocked by force. That force can be from marauding gangs who pillage
production or governments who tax it.

The block can be naturally caused or man-made. But roadblocks exist that have to be torn down. People want to make exchanges because through exchange they maximize wealth even when no new wealth is created. If I trade an orange for an apple I am ‘wealthier” by my own standards and so is the person who got the orange. That is because I only make the exchange because I value the apple more than the orange and my trading partner only does so when he values the orange more than the apple. We each walk away from the exchange with an increase in our own well being according to our own values.

But if someone comes along and prevents or inhibits the exchange then both traders are worse off. If they ban the trade, because my partner lives within one set of imaginary lines drawn on a map, and I live within another set, it matters not. We are still worse off. If they forbid the exchange because they don’t like my race or nationality there is still a reduction in well being.

Or if they come in and tax the exchange we are still worse off than we would be. All uses of force to interfere with voluntary exchange, by definition, substitutes the values of the one who uses the force for those of the traders. That inhibits wealth creation. And when this is inhibited the natural state of poverty either continues or the state of things revert. Wealth is man-made, poverty is natural. And that means wealth, once made, must be preserved as later interference with the process can cause poverty to reassert itself. When the process is stopped things revert to their default state.

The "equality matters" myth: If Bill Gates get richer I am supposedly worse off. But I have never heard anyone explain how this is the case. This is called relative poverty. I may be well off but if you are better off then I am relatively impoverished compared to you.

That’s like calling someone who is 6’ tall “relatively short” because someone else may be 6’4”. A person who weighs 150 lbs is “relatively” fat compared to a person who is anorexic.

This concept of “relative poverty” is absolutely irrational. It tells us nothing. You can make almost any case you wish by using a “relative” comparison. I could argue that the average American is “relatively poor” if I use the wealth of the top 10% of the population as my point of comparison. Or I can argue they are “relatively rich” if I compare them to the average income of people in the developing world.

And the Left, who are notorious at stripping words of any rational content, does this all the time. If they want to attack capitalism and make Americans feel “exploited” and envious they will compare the average working income to that of the average CEO. From this they conclude that Americans are made worse off by capitalism because “relative poverty” or wealth inequality is growing.

But when they want to make the average worker feel as if he is an exploiter, and appeal to his guilt, they compare the same income to that of poor people. One day you can be “too poor” and the next day you can be “too rich” simply by shifting the goal posts.

Such concepts add nothing to a discussion. But they are not meant to. They are used precisely because they allow one to make any argument anytime.

The poor as a static group myth: This has two variations. One is that there are X number of poor people in nation in one year, and then X number later down the road, indicating that no progress has been made. The assumption is that the people, who were poor, say in 1990, are the same people who are poor in 2005.

In fact people who are “poor” in any one year are mostly a changing group. A university student can be poor in his 20s because he is a part-time employee while studying. But with a valuable degree he may become one of the rich 20 years down the road. The category “poor” is not necessarily static but may be a changing one.

Another variation of the static concept is to define “poor” as some arbitrary percentage of the population. A popular definition of poverty is one where the “poor” are defined as anyone in the bottom 10 or 20 percent when it comes to income. The problem is that this definition means it is impossible to eradicate poverty. Even in a community of millionaires someone will be in the bottom percentage.

While this is a static definition it really is a fallacy that is similar to the first one discussed - that of “relative poverty”. This is so because the bottom percentage is always determined in relation to the income of others. This is a popular theory with some special interest groups because you cannot eradicate poverty since you cannot abolish the bottom percentage no matter what you do. It is always there. And that justifies the existence of the antipoverty group or its programs for eternity. That appeals to them.

Just clearing up the poor thinking around poverty can do a lot to clarify what needs to be done, or needn’t be done, when it comes to wealth creation. And poverty will only be ended when wealth creation is allowed to flourish.

For some information on the actual state of American poverty go here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

guns against genocide and tyranny

I just witnessed a conversation in which a previous professor of mine discounted the disarmament of Jews in Germany prior to World War II. The gist being that disarming them had no effect on their ability to defend themselves from the coming genocide; that their meager arms would not have stopped the Nazi machine.

"On July 28, 1942, a meeting was held of He-Halutz and its youth-movement branches: Ha-Shomer Ha-Za’ir, Dror, and Akiva. It was decided to set up the Jewish Fighting Organization YKA (Yidishe-Kamf-Organizatsie). The organization signed proclamations which it issued in the Polish language with the initials ZOB: Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa– Jewish Fighting Organization. The members of the Command were: Bresler, Cukierman, Zivia Lubetkin, Mordecai Tenenbaum and Josef Kaplan. A delegation was sent to the Aryan side [i.e., outside the ghetto], to the Poles: Tosia Altman, Plotnicka, Leah Perlstein and Arie-Jurek Wilner, in order to make contact with the Polish Underground and to obtain weapons for the ghetto.
The fighting organization had been set up, but all the weapons there were in the ghetto at that time consisted of just one pistol...!"
- Yitzhak Arad, Yisrael Gutman, and Avraham Margaliot, eds., Documents on the Holocaust, Selected Sources on the Destruction of the Jews of Germany and Austria, Poland and the Soviet Union (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1981), 293–294.

It may not have stopped the "machine", but it might have slowed it down enough to save many. In a corollary, guns sure could have helped many other groups in their fight for survival.

Ottoman Turkey 1915-1917 Armenians 1-1.5 million 1886-1911 Art. 166, Penal Code
Soviet Union 1929-1953 Anti-Communists / Anti-Stalinists 20 million 1929 Art. 182 Penal Code
Nazi Germany & Occupied Europe 1933-1945 Jews, Gypsies, Anti-Nazis 13 million 1928-1938 Law on Firearms & Ammunition, April 12 Weapons Law, March 18
China 1949-1952 1957-1960 1966-1976 Anti- Communists Rural Populations Pro-Reform Grou 20 million 1935-1957 Arts. 186-7, Penal Code Art. 9, Security Law, Oct. 22
Guatemala 1960-1981 Maya Indians 100,000 1871-1964 Decree 36, Nov 25 Decree 283, Oct 27
Uganda 1971-1979 Christians Political Rivals 300,000 1955-1970 Firearms Ordinance Firearms Act
Cambodia 1975-1979 Educated Persons 1 million 1956 Arts. 322-8, Penal Code

Gun Control & Genocide

"The Minister of the Interior, Frick, passed Regulations Against Jew’s Possession of Weapons on November 11, 1938, which effectively deprived all Jews of the right to possess firearms or other weapons. It was a regulation prohibiting Jews from having any dangerous weapon — not just guns. Under the regulations, Jews “are prohibited from acquiring, possessing, and carrying firearms and ammunition, as well as truncheons or stabbing weapons. Those now possessing weapons and ammunition are at once to turn them over to the local police authority.” Moreover, prior to that, the German police and Nazis used the 1938 firearms law as an excuse to disarm Jews. In Breslau, for instance, the city police chief decreed the seizure of all firearms from Jews on the ground that “the Jewish population ‘cannot be regarded as trustworthy’” — the language from the 1928 and 1938 firearms laws." - Bernard E. Harcourt, On Gun Registration, the NRA, Adolf Hitler, and Nazi Gun Laws: Exploding the Gun Culture Wars (A Call to Historians), 73 Fordham L. Rev. 653 (2004)

Friday, October 9, 2015

the only people retiring are the young

Okay, I have done the math for y'all.

between 1984 and 2014, the total population of the US increased by about 83 million... the labor force (16 and older) in that time period increased by only 48 million... of that 48 million, 19 million were 55 years old and older... we LOST 2 million workers between the ages of 16 and 24... (maybe they retired?)

as a rule, the labor force steadily increases... part of this is the increase in population, but also trends in the economy... more women are entering the work force... youth work younger... retirement age getting older.

but from 2008 until now, the labor force has plateaued... it is true that between 2008 and 2014, the Under-55 demographic has not expanded as in the past... and the Over-55 demographic has indeed increased due to the Baby-Boomers... but the plateau is dramatic by the greater scope of the population... between 1984 and 2008, the labor force increased by 41 million; that's about 1.7 million per year... were that to continue from 2008, by 2014 there would have been an extra 10 million in the labor force... but that didn't happen.

so where did they go?... did 10 million retire?... as stated earlier, we've INCREASED the number of retirement age people in the labor force... in fact, an additional 11 million Over-55 were added to the work force between 2004 to 2014, while we only gained 3 million 16-54 year olds.

so, the argument that the Baby-Boomers are retiring, causing the slump in the labor force is false.

Labor force projections to 2014: retiring boomers
GroupLevel (thousands)Change (thousands)
Total, 16 years and older113,544131,056147,401162,10017,51216,34514,699
16 to 24 years23,98921,61222,26822,158–2,377656–110
25 to 54 years74,66193,898102,122105,62719,2378,2243,505
55 years and older14,89415,54623,01134,3156527,46511,304

Population, totals
Population - 235,825,000
Population - 318,857,056

Population 55 Years and Over by Sex and Age: 2012
Under 55 - 229,349,000
Over 55 - 79,477,000
Population 55 Years and Over by Sex and Age: 2008
Under 55 - 229,014,000
Over 55 - 70,091,000

Civilian labor force participation rate (percent of population 16 years old and older)

Jan. 1984 - 63.9%
Jan. 2000 - 67.3% (peak)
Jan. 2008 - 66.2%
Jan. 2014 - 63.0%

Civilian labor force

Jan. 1984 - 112,209,000
Jan. 2000 - 142,267,000 (peak)
Jan. 2008 - 154,063,000
Jan. 2014 - 155,486,000

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

free exercise will cost you

ME: The law should protect both parties' rights; rights of equal protection and of religion.
THEM: Your group is infringing on my group's rights and discriminating against them.
ME: My group has religious rights, too. The law should accommodate both parties' rights.
THEM: Your group has every right to their religious beliefs, right up to the point where they infringe on my group's religious beliefs.
ME: You never address how to keep your group from infringing on my group's rights.
THEM: No one is telling your group what to believe. Or infringing on their practice of religion. They can pick either their religion or their employment, but not both.
ME: Your solution is they lose their jobs? How is that not an infringement of my group's religious rights?
THEM: Suck it up and do it, or find another job. Your group is free to practice their beliefs, as long as the practice does not infringe on my group's beliefs.
ME: You continue to deny accommodation for my group, while requiring accommodation of yours. How is that equal?
THEM: I made no request for accommodation for my group. I only threatened your group with their source of income. Your group is free to act against their religion. Or they can lose their job.

Why am I spending so much time fighting this battle?

Because, even though Kim Davis (county clerk in Kentucky) may have been in the wrong for HOW she acted, this is a larger demonstration of what has been going on in this country.

In a country where one of the very first enumerated rights is the "free exercise" of religion, it is hard to believe how often that right is being taken away. Perhaps even more concerning is how unequally those rights are being observed, even allowed. Cake bakers, photographers, military personnel, private property owners, flower shops, printing companies, and private individuals are being taken to court, as well as slandered in public, over their deeply held religious beliefs.

And with each instance, the clamoring gets louder that religion is something to be ashamed of; to hide away in your homes. Which is even more startling given the history of those who shout the loudest; those who for so very long had to hide their own beliefs for fear of ridicule and retaliation. Somehow, in this upside-down world, it is "Justice" to attack, degrade, and demean those who disagree. But it is that type of behavior which is called "bigotry" when practiced by those who call themselves "conservative". Yet it's hailed as "Social Justice" by those who, without irony, call themselves "progressives".

This largely takes place against openly Christian groups and individuals.

Yet with each instance, should the groups switch places, or should a different favored group be inserted for the "offensive" christian group, the reaction is entirely different. If a christian denies a homosexual access to their services, they are reviled, slandered, and often litigated.

Not so, if it were a homosexual denying a christian.

Not so, if it were a muslim group denying a homosexual. Or sometimes, even killing them.

Dick and Betty Odgaard believed in 2013 that they were standing for their Mennonite beliefs when they refused to let a gay couple get married at their Gortz Haus Gallery, a Grimes church they had turned into a flower shop and bistro.
The Odgaards in December agreed to a settlement with the two men stating that their business would not discriminate in offering its services to the public. Instead of being forced to open the venue to same-sex weddings, the Odgaards ended their wedding business entirely.

Stutzman is the Washington florist who has been sued for living out her Christian beliefs. In 2013, a long-time friend and customer came to her flower shop and asked her to provide flowers for his gay wedding. Stutzman had known this man and had done business with him for about nine years. Nevertheless, she told him that she could not participate in his wedding "because of my relationship with Jesus."
Keep in mind that Stutzman does not refuse service to gay people. Indeed she had been selling flowers to this gay couple for nine years. She has also employed gay people in her flower shop.
The court also ruled recently that both the state and the same-sex couple, who each filed lawsuits against her, may collect damages and attorneys fees not only from her business, but from Stutzman personally. That means the 70-year-old grandmother may not only lose her business, but also her home and savings because she lives her life and operates her business according to her beliefs.

In Oregon, the state labor commissioner in July ordered the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa to pay $135,000 damages to a lesbian couple for refusing to bake them a wedding cake. Aaron and Melissa Klein have appealed the ruling to the Oregon Court of Appeals.

Hands On Originals contended that it declined the T-shirt order because it is a Christian company and disagreed with the message of the shirt. The shirt was a stylized numeral 5 on the front. On the back was "Lexington Pride Festival" and a list of sponsors of the gay pride event.
Sexton said in a statement that the ruling is a landmark for Lexington's Fairness Ordinance. "If you're going to do business in Lexington, you must make your goods and services accessible to everyone regardless of the protected classes, including sexual orientation and gender identity. ... If this was a case involving race, religion or national origin, there would be no debate on right or wrong."

Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk, assigned to the 37th Training Wing, said Friday he was relieved July 26 of his duties as first sergeant of a training squadron and forced to take leave because he disagreed with his commanding officer’s position on gay marriage. He says his commander is openly lesbian.
Monk said he was subsequently relieved of his duties at the unit, and had to request permission to return in order to collect personal items. “I was relieved of my position because I do not agree with my commander’s position on gay marriage,” he said.

Atlanta city officials say they were within their rights to fire former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran because he wrote — and offered for sale — a Christian book without permission and gave copies of it to nearly two dozen people at work.
The councilman, who is openly gay, has told the Atlanta Constitution-Journal that “when you’re a city employee and [your] thoughts, beliefs and opinions are different from the city’s, you have to check them at the door,” according to ADF attorneys.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

best / worst President, depending on who you ask

i don't particularly have a favorite, as each President is human, and therefore flawed in some measure... but i came across this article from 2011 that purported the worst President of our lifetime was (*drumroll*) Ronald Reagan... again, there are pros and cons for all, but really?... Reagan?... and in 2011, you pick him?

let's compare with my current front-runner for worst President of our lifetime... any guesses?... no cheating, now.

1. Reagan cut taxes for the Rich, increased taxes on the Middle Class -
When Reagan came into office in January of 1981, the top tax rate was 70%, but when he left office in 1989 the top tax rate was down to only 28%.
Reagan raised taxes seven of the eight years he was in office and the tax increases were felt hardest by the lower and middle class.
using the data freely available to me (see sources, below), let's examine... technically, the numbers are correct... except, in 1981, there were sixteen (yes, 16) different tax rates, from $0 up to $544,054 (married filing jointly)... in 1989, there were TWO, from $0 to $57,306 (MFJ)... comparatively, in '81, those earning around $57,000 paid 28%; the same as they paid in '89.

the idea that taxes were raised, much less that they were "felt hardest by the lower and middle class" is erroneous... more than that, it's false.

COMPARE: in 2009, the top rate was 35% (over $399,125 MFJ)... the tax rates have been virtually unchanged since being modified in 1993, and have remained similar through 2013.

2. Tripling the National Debt -
As Reagan cut taxes for the wealthy, the government was left with less money to spend. When Reagan came into office the national debt was $900 billion, by the time he left the national debt had tripled to $2.8 trillion.
oh, you really shouldn't have gone there... again, his numbers are correct... but they are misleading... but rather than refute his facts, let's get straight to the COMPARE.

COMPARE: from 2009 through 2011 (date of the article), the National Debt rose from $10 trillion to $14 trillion... as percentages go, not bad... but it still rose $4,000,000,000,000 in three years... compare that to the $2 trillion over eight years.

3. Iran/Contra -
In 1986, a group of Americans were being held hostage by a terrorist group with ties to Iran. In an attempt to free the hostages, Ronald Reagan secretly sold arms and money to Iran.
screw it...

COMPARE: in 2011, the US armed Syrian rebels to overthrow President Bashar Al-Assad... these weapons were used against the US and recently freed people of Iraq by ISIS (Islamic State of Iran and Syria)... in addition, it is speculated that arms being sent to Libyan rebels were being diverted to Syria.

4. Reagan funded Terrorists -
Prepping for a possible war with the Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan spent billions of dollars funding the Islamist mujahidin Freedom Fighters in Afghanistan.

COMPARE: see ISIS, above... also, in 2015, the US made an agreement with Iran, one of the world's largest known supporters of international terrorism, to fund their nuclear program... this is especially terrifying since the standard, and unchanged, mantra of Iran is "Death to America".

5. Unemployment issues -
When Ronald Reagan came into office 1981, unemployment was at 7.5%. As 1982 came to a close, unemployment was nearly 11%. Unemployment began to drop as the years went on, but the jobs that were created were low paying and barely helped people make ends meet.
this is getting too easy... in January of 1981, when Reagan took the oath of office, the Labor Participation Rate was 63.9%... when he left office in January of 1989, the Rate was 66.5%... not even accounting for the growth of the population, that's more people employed... additionally, the mean household income for the lowest fifth of the population (in adjusted 2013 dollars) rose from $4,602 in '81 to $6,994 in '89... the middle fifth rose from $18,991 to $28,925... that's right, more people working making more money.

COMPARE: in 2008, the lowest fifth made $11,656... by 2011 (date of the article), they made only $11,239... in 2008, the middle fifth made $50,132, and dropped to $49,842 by 2011.

in January of 2008, the Labor Participation Rate was 66.2%... very near same rate as at the end of Reagan's term... by January of 2011, the Rate was 64.2%, or very near the rate as in '81... by January of 2015, the Rate was 62.9%... need we go further?

6. Ignoring AIDS -
By the time the 1980s came around, AIDS had become one of the most frightening things to happen to the country in recent memory. No one understood what AIDS and HIV really was and when people don't understand something, they become scared of it. Instead of grabbing the bull by the horns and taking charge, Reagan kept quiet.
first, the article says "no one understood what AIDS" really was... but then it wanted Reagan to make some statement about it... for the record, Reagan first mentioned AIDS, in response to a question at a press conference, on Sept. 17, 1985:
"I have been supporting it for more than 4 years now. It's been one of the top priorities with us, and over the last 4 years, and including what we have in the budget for '86, it will amount to over a half a billion dollars that we have provided for research on AIDS in addition to what I'm sure other medical groups are doing. And we have $100 million in the budget this year; it'll be 126 million next year. So, this is a top priority with us. Yes, there's no question about the seriousness of this and the need to find an answer."

COMPARE: there is simply nothing as major and vast as the AIDS epidemic... the only thing even in the same vein would be the Africa ebola outbreak in 2013, in which aid workers were allowed freely back into the US from ebola quarantine countries.

7. Reagan gave amnesty to 3 million Undocumented Immigrants -
Reagan gave nearly 3 million undocumented workers amnesty. All the laws that would have cracked down on companies who hire undocumented workers were, of course, removed from the bill.
this was the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986... which also required employers to attest to their employees' immigration status... it also made it illegal to hire or recruit illegal immigrants knowingly... this was too easy.

COMPARE: not deporting illegal immigrants who are caught on non-felony charges, the DREAM Act, and the revision of removal practices which "prioritize" the removal of illegal immigrants... these are a few of the actual de facto amnesties which have taken place betwen 2008 and 2015.

8. His attack on Unions and the Middle Class -
On August 3rd, 1981, PATCO (Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization) went on strike in an effort to get better pay and safer working conditions. Two days later, taking the side of business, Ronald Reagan fired 11,345 workers for not returning to work.
everyone remembers this... Reagan enforced the provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947... while this move was wildly unpopular, it was not simply Reagan being anti-union... a federal court had previously ordered the controllers back to work.

COMPARE: please... you can't be any more pro-union than the current administration.

9. Reagan raided the Social Security Trust fund -
In order to counteract his own economic policies, Ronald Reagan needed to find somewhere else to get revenue. Listening to Alan Greenspan and other advisers, Ronald Reagan raided the Social Security Trust Fund and replaced it with glorified IOU's.
when Reagan came to office, the Social Security "Trust fund" (a misleading term that has nothing to do with Reagan, but more with President Johnson) was spending more than it was taking in... about $2 million more in the red... by 1989, the "fund" was $53 million in the black... Reagan actually saved Social Security... you're welcome.

COMPARE: the Social Security "Trust fund" is on the rocks... not from high outlays, but by restricting access to Social Security... be it by raising the age requirement or restricting access for disability payments, Social Security has issues... however, these are probably intrinsic problems, not caused by the current administration.

10. Endless worship and never-ending praise -
Ronald Reagan left office in January of 1989 and nearly 25 years later he is held up high by the modern Republican party.
as seen above, i don't believe this is really a problem.

COMPARE: public school children were instructed to sing praises to President Obama in 2009... is there anything really more to say?

10 reasons why Ronald Reagan was the worst president of our lifetime by Robert Sobel - Orlando Liberal Examiner

Monday, June 29, 2015

Only the ends matter

You can disagree with a process and not the outcome.
You can disagree with an outcome and not the process.

It's amazing to me when people believe the ends justify the means.

Let's not discuss what occurred in the interim. Let's not discuss the possible complications created by charging headlong to the goal. Let's not weigh the costs. Forget discussion and debate.

Because the only opinions which matter are those of the victors. Winners write the history books.

oh well we know better - Re-Blog

Symposium: “Oh, well, we know better.”
Christopher Green is an Associate Professor at Ole Miss Law.

Near the beginning of the oral argument in Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Anthony Kennedy caused many observers to think that the Court might allow states to keep traditional marriage definitions after all. These definitions had, Kennedy said, been in place for millennia. “I don’t even know how to count the decimals when we talk about millennia. This definition has been with us for millennia. And it it’s very difficult for the Court to say, oh, well, we—we know better.” Two months later, however, Kennedy surmounted those difficulties. Chief Justice John Roberts puts the point well in his dissent: “If an unvarying social institution enduring over all of recorded history cannot inhibit judicial policymaking, what can?”

Quite unlike the opinion in Roe v. Wade, which frankly acknowledged its ignorance on the status of the fetus, Kennedy repeatedly claims to know better than the preceding millennia about whether same-sex couples are similarly situated to opposite-sex couples with respect to the purposes of marriage. His opinion is suffused with epistemic language. He speaks of what the plaintiffs’ “stories reveal,” of what “new dimensions of freedom become apparent,” of “greater awareness,” of what “psychiatrists and others [have] recognized,” of what is “now manifest,” of “knowledge,” of “new insights and societal understandings,” of “new awareness,” of what is “now clear,” of what “must be … acknowledged,” and of “enhanced understanding.”

The recognition of the need for a reliable factual foundation is perhaps a step up from Roe’s passive-aggressive approach of disclaiming knowledge on the key issue yet resolving the policy question anyway. The Court’s claims of knowledge today, by contrast, are more candidly aggressive. The Court simply announces that “[t]here is no difference between same- and opposite-sex couples” regarding the purposes of marriage.

Unlike Roe, the Court gives us few details of the sociological, psychological, and biological disputes it resolves. As Chief Justice Roberts’s dissent puts it, “The answer is surely there in one of those amicus briefs or studies.” Mere amount of deliberation is enough for the Court: “[M]any of the central institutions in American life—state and local governments, the military, large and small businesses, labor unions, religious organizations, law enforcement, civic groups, professional organizations, and universities—have devoted substantial attention to the question.”

“Substantial attention to the question” is one thing, but what of the answers? These groups have, of course, reached no consensus on whether same-sex and opposite-sex couples (or other arrangements) are similarly situated. Chief Justice Roberts quotes an eerily-applicable 1976 line from then-Justice William Rehnquist: “Surely the Constitution does not put either the legislative branch or the executive branch in the position of a television quiz show contestant so that when a given period of time has elapsed and a problem remains unresolved by them, the federal judiciary may press a buzzer and take its turn at fashioning a solution.”

It is striking to compare Roe’s relative epistemic humility in the face of disagreement over when the human fetus begins to have rights: “When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.” The Court feels no such modesty today.

One of the Court’s few specific scientific claims is particularly striking: “Only in more recent years have psychiatrists and others recognized that sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable.” The Court then cites pages 7 to 17 of the American Psychological Association’s amicus brief. Digging into these pages is quite instructive. The APA itself notes at page 7 that “sexual orientation ranges along a continuum,” and claims only that it is “highly resistant to change.” The Court upgrades this to “immutable,” a word the APA itself never uses. The brief reports at page 8 that “only 5% of gay men and 16% of lesbians reported feeling they had ‘a fair amount’ or ‘a great deal’ of choice about their sexual orientation.” That’s a lot more fluidity than the Court acknowledges. At pages 8-9, the amicus brief notes, “Fully 88% of gay men and 68% of lesbians reported that they had ‘no choice at all.’”

The Court’s immutability claim, then, disagrees with thirty-two percent of lesbians’ self-reports, according to the very source on which the Court relies. Among people who take the question seriously, there is surely room for those who agree with the ancients – whether Plato in the Symposium or Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:11 – in recognizing more fluidity to sexual orientation than does the Court. If the Court’s ipse dixit cannot end psychological debate over the extent of the contingency of sexual orientation, its ipse dixits on the general issue of the relevant similarity of same-sex and opposite-sex couples will fare no better.

The citation of authority on the immutability point is an exception, though. For most claims, the Court says little about how it can be so sure about them. I am reminded of the movie Toy Story 2. Asked by Mr. Potato Head, “What makes you so sure?” Buzz replies, “I’m Buzz Lightyear. I’m always sure!” Whatever expressions of diffidence Justice Kennedy might express in late April, by late June he always seems to find a way to summon sufficient confidence. To paraphrase Captain Willard from Apocalypse Now, it’s hard to find much to criticize as unsound about his method, because it’s hard to see much method at all.

The Court’s great confidence about the relevant similarity of opposite-sex and same-sex couples is especially striking when paired with its great skepticism about claims that expansion of the label “marriage” will dilute its effectiveness for traditional applications by severing the connection between natural procreation and marriage. The Court summarily pronounces the idea “counterintuitive” and “unrealistic” and claims that the states had “not shown a foundation” for it. However, the dilution of esteem when a label is expanded was obvious to the Court in its Mishawaka Manufacturing v. Kresge Co. decision of 1942 – the “psychological power of symbols” and the “drawing power of a congenial symbol” could be undermined if trademarks could be freely used by others, following Frank Schechter’s 1926 description of the “gradual whittling away or dispersion of the identity and hold upon the public mind of the mark or name.” For all of Kennedy’s confidence about the social dynamics of meaning, honor, and dignity, it is surprising that he cannot recognize this danger, or even see a reason to stay agnostic about it.

The Court’s unexplained decision that the nation has deliberated long enough contrasts sharply, of course, with its decision eighteen years ago in Washington v. Glucksberg. Under that rule, deliberation continues until the political process has reached a consensus; only outliers against the American tradition of civil liberty will be struck down for violating fundamental rights. Citing the fundamental-right-to-marriage cases—Loving v. Virginia from 1967, Zablocki v. Redhail from 1978, and Turner v. Safley from 1987 – the Court makes “marriage and intimacy” cases a Glucksberg-free zone. Rather than reading those earlier cases to limit Glucksberg’s doctrine, though, it seems much more natural to instead read Glucksberg to refine those cases’ rationales. Loving considered a thirty-four-sixteen majority in favor of the rule it imposed on states – and itself restored a common-law rule—but Obergefell overturns a thirty-four-sixteen majority against it. Limits on child-support-delinquents’ or prisoners’ rights to marry were likewise outliers in 1978 and 1987.

In sum, the Court errs in seeing itself as the only possible source of progress (or guidance on what counts as progress) on civil liberties. The Court claims, “If rights were defined by who exercised them in the past, then received practices could serve as their own continued justification and new groups could not invoke rights once denied.” To the contrary; obviously new groups can invoke “rights once denied” under Glucksberg; they are only prevented from nationalizing those rights until a genuine consensus exists. A tradition- and outlier-based approach to constitutional adjudication need not entail traditionalism for the elected branches. The Court says, “Were the Court to uphold the challenged laws as constitutional, it would teach the Nation that these laws are in accord with our society’s most basic compact.” Not so – not permanently. Even if it had affirmed, the Court could easily have made clear – as the European Court of Human Rights did in Schalk & Kopf v. Austria in 2010 in refusing to require same-sex marriage for all of Europe – that such a consensus might yet emerge in the future. If the Court really had the courage that its conclusions about same-sex marriage can withstand sustained deliberation and contestation, it too would have waited.

[emphasis added]
Chris Green, Symposium: “Oh, well, we know better.”, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 26, 2015, 4:27 PM),

Monday, May 11, 2015

Forgive Us Our Debts - Re-Blog

Imagine I were to give you the following assignment: "I want you to sit down with a non-Christian who knows nothing of the Bible. He has only vaguely heard of Jesus Christ, and he's not even sure there is a God. I want you to explain to him how to become a Christian." Would you be able to do that? Could you sit down with somebody and explain simply what it means to become a Christian?

Many Christians don’t have a clear understanding what we're asking people to do when we ask them to become a Christian. What is it about? It's found in this phrase, "Forgive us our debts." In this phrase there are two profound implications to this simple request.

First, that request implies we have all sinned. Whenever you talk to people about their need for Jesus Christ, you have to begin with sin. Without the bad news, there is no good news. And here is the bad news: there is a God in heaven who has an objective list of requirements, and all of us have fallen short of those requirements. The Bible says, "There is none righteous, not even one... For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:10, 23). Most of us have a hard time believing that we really are in need of forgiveness because we compare ourselves to other people. We think as long as we haven't molested a child or committed murder, we're pretty good. Not perfect, but good enough. Yet the standard God uses to judge us is not other people. His standard is His perfect Son, Jesus Christ. And the Bible says that compared to the perfection of Jesus Christ, we have all fallen short. All of us have sinned.

Second, we owe God for our sin. Because we have sinned against God, we owe God a debt for the sin we have committed. What is that debt? Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death." Not just physical death but eternal death, eternal separation from God. We’ve all sinned. But here is the essence of the Christian message: Jesus Christ paid for our sin. When Jesus died on the cross, He paid our debt for us.

Here is the most important issue of your entire life: Who is going to pay for your sin? You have a choice. You can say, "God, I'll try to pay it myself." Then you will spend all eternity in hell trying to pay that sin debt, and it will never be paid off. Or you can choose to allow Jesus Christ to pay your debt for you. That's what He did when He died on the cross. He offered to take care of that debt for you. When you become a Christian, what you're doing is kneeling before a holy God and saying, "God, I know I've offended You. I know I have wronged You. I know I need to suffer for my sin, but I believe Jesus came and paid the debt for my sin in full. And I'm trusting in the name of Jesus to save me." The Bible says when we cry out to God in that way, He takes our faith and exchanges it for His perfect righteousness. That's what we're saying when we pray, "Father, forgive us our debts."

Forgive Us Our Debts - Pathway to Victory

Auditing Cicero - Re-Blog

O tempora! O mores! When will you stop testing our patience? How long will you mock us? How long must we endure that famous audacity of yours? The people are alarmed — doesn’t that mean anything to you? Even the Senate feels the need to defend itself against you. Don’t the worried faces in this august assembly worry you? Don’t you know that your plans already have been found out? Everyone here knows what you are up to. We know where you were last night, and the night before that, where you met, whom you met with, the schemes you hatched. Didn’t you think we’d find out?
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, In Catilinam
The proximate cause of the conspiracy of Catiline in 63 b.c. was debt: Lucius Sergius Catilina was a Roman nobleman from an ancient and celebrated family, a man of great physical courage and mental acuity, but he was utterly dissolute. Having wasted his fortune and spent himself hopelessly into debt, he assembled a small army of similarly ruined noblemen with the aim of overthrowing the Roman republic, murdering their creditors, and pillaging their rivals. Public debt in Rome was at record highs as the result of an unexpected economic downturn, expensive foreign wars, and a real-estate crisis that saw thousands of foreclosed-upon farmers lose their lands and flee to the city. Private debt was a problem, too, along with unfunded liabilities for veterans’ benefits and social spending. Catiline, a senator, had emphasized the issues of economic stimulus for the poor and more spending on veterans’ programs, which won him the support of the plebs, but it was his own debts that weighed most heavily upon his mind, along with his political future. Wise men long ago learned to be suspicious of very rich men demanding to be invested with political power on behalf of the poor, but that is one of the many lessons that the rest of us keep failing to learn.

In his famous denunciation of Catiline, Cicero described his co-conspirators as the worst sort of riff-raff and lowlifes, but in truth they came from the cream of respectable Roman society: Publius Cornelius Lentulus, known as Sura, had been consul only a few years before, while Lucius Cassius Longinus had served as praetor with Cicero himself. But Lentulus had lost his position because of a political scandal, and Cassius had lost his race for the consulship and was widely regarded as a political has-been. Others who had been frustrated by their lack of political success joined the conspiracy — former senators and the less fortunate sons of illustrious families, men who had, in the words of Sallust, “dissipated their patrimonies by gambling, luxury, and sensuality, and had contracted heavy debts.” Children of privilege up in arms, pursuing their own agenda under color of seeking justice for the masses against the financial elites: Occupy Rome, basically.

One cannot fault Catiline’s strategic analysis: Given the decayed state of the republic — Julius Caesar was elected pontifex maximus that same year, quite possibly through bribery — controlling the levers of political power meant the opportunity to put the machinery of the state to immediate use crushing one’s enemies and rewarding one’s friends, with very little standing in the way of an aspiring tyrant other than what Sharron Angle might have called “Second Amendment remedies,” had she and the Bill of Rights been around at the time. (Cicero was a defender of the right to keep and bear arms, but within limits: “Suppose,” he wrote, “that a person leaves his sword with you when he is in his right mind and demands it back in a fit of insanity — it would be criminal to restore it to him.”) Cicero demanded summary execution of the conspirator — “The senate is aware of these things, the consul sees them, and yet this man lives!” — which may seem a bit excessive, but the alternative was civil war, which was just what the Romans got after Catiline escaped. He died in battle, and Sallust noted with grudging respect that the corpses of Catiline and his men were found with their wounds in the right place: in the front.

Cicero, being a shrewd social analyst, recognized that Catiline’s conspiracy was not the moral failing of one man, or even that of the entire class of ambitious sons of privilege. It was, rather, a comprehensive failure of Roman institutions from the senate and consuls on down to the self-interested veterans and envious plebs. His most famous words were not uttered lamenting the decadence of Catiline but the decadence of the age: “O tempora! O mores!” It is better to have a republic defended by civic virtue than to have one defended by swords and spears.

Catiline was hardly the first rotten apple to fall from the tree of the Roman aristocracy, but he was wildly and enduringly popular with the plebs and with those who presumed to speak for them. He survived in legend as a kind of Robin Hood figure well into the Middle Ages, and beyond: Ibsen’s first play was a sympathetic treatment of Catiline, whom he regarded as a forerunner to the revolutionary movements then under way against the Habsburg empire. Catiline’s crime was not only to plot to kill a few senators and walk away from a few debts: His crime was to render the unthinkable thinkable, that a Roman ruler might set aside all of the hard-won liberty of the uncrowned republic and treat the state as his personal instrument, to become the thing that Romans hated most: a king.

In his De Officiis, Cicero meditated upon virtues that are necessary for political life, those “by which society and what we call its ‘common bonds’ are maintained.” The cardinal political virtue was justice — “the crowning glory of the virtues, and the basis upon which we call good men ‘good’” — which when applied to political questions entailed the ability to distinguish the common good from private interest. “The first order of justice is to keep one man from doing harm to another,” Cicero wrote, “and the next is to lead men to use common resources for the common good, private property for their own.”

Our House of Representatives has a hilariously long-winded and specific set of guidelines for helping members of Congress decide what is private and what is public, published under the heading “General Prohibition Against Using Official Resources for Campaign or Political Purposes.” But it is a very serious matter, which you can learn from the House’s declaration that
the misuse of the funds and other resources that the House of Representatives entrusts to Members for the conduct of official House business is a very serious matter. Depending on the circumstances, such conduct may result in not only disciplinary action by the House, but also criminal prosecution. Moreover, while any House employee who makes improper use of House resources is subject to disciplinary action by the Committee on Ethics, each Member should be aware that he or she may be held responsible for any improper use of resources that occurs in the Member’s office. The Committee has long taken the position that each Member is responsible for assuring that the Member’s employees are aware of and adhere to the rules, and for assuring that House resources are used for proper purposes.
The general principles outlined above are very good ones, and Cicero would have recognized them. Using public resources for private political purposes is not just an ethical violation; it is a crime very similar to bribery: one part extortion, one part abuse of office. And it is a crime for which superiors bear some responsibility for the actions of their subordinates.

No less than the actions of Catiline all those centuries ago, the actions of the Internal Revenue Service are a criminal conspiracy not only against the agency’s particular marked targets but against the republic itself, against the very idea of a republic, predicated upon the abuse of official power for private political gain. Such are the mores of these tempora that this scandal has unfolded as though the main question were how it might affect the 2014 congressional elections, or possibly the 2016 presidential race. But those are short-term considerations. This kind of scandal — from the Latin scandalum, or “stumbling block” — goes to the very heart of whether we remain the sort of people who can be trusted to govern themselves. It is a scandal in both the political sense and the Catholic sense of the word: “Any action or its omission, not necessarily sinful in itself, that is likely to induce another to do something morally wrong. Direct scandal, also called diabolical, has the deliberate intention to induce another to sin. In indirect scandal a person does something that he or she foresees will at least likely lead another to commit sin, but this is rather tolerated than positively desired.” (Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., Modern Catholic Dictionary)

Already there are suggestions that other agencies, possibly the EPA and the ATF, have similarly abused the power entrusted to them, to say nothing of the worrisome developments at the (possibly misnamed) Department of Justice. The precedent that has been set cannot be undone, and the unthinkable is now thinkable, and everybody will be thinking it every time anybody is audited. The opinions of every crank and conspiracy theorist in the land just got a little bit more respectable. The wrongdoing is widespread and systemic; top managers knew about it and lied about it. The public trust has been entrusted to the untrustworthy. The question is not how much damage this scandal will do to the White House, but how much it will do to the country.


Auditing Cicero | National Review Online by Kevin D. Williamson - June 17, 2013