Thursday, July 30, 2009

Are We Worrying Our Supervisors?

Commissar Holder affects concern that we're becoming mutinous:
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder warned on Wednesday of increased "radicalization" of Americans in recent months, two days after seven people were arrested in North Carolina for allegedly plotting attacks overseas.

Holder, the top U.S. law enforcement officer, expressed significant concerns about people going abroad and then returning to the United States with the "aim of doing harm to the American people."

"The constant scream of threats, the kind of things you have to be aware about, the whole notion of radicalization is something that didn't loom as large a few months ago ... as it does now," Holder said in an interview with ABC News.
Myself, I disagree with the Commissar. I'm pretty sure that as long as there's the NFL, the NBA, the Global War on Swarthy Foreigners, and "Amur'kan Eye-Dull," we'll all be torpidly placid.

But, then, when you lose your job, you can't pay your cable bill, nor can you upgrade to a suitable new HDTV. So, to you, the necessities of HappyLife listed above pretty much cease to exist.

So, perhaps Herr Kamerad Holder is prudent to be concerned. I hope so.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Word for Wednesday, July 29 Edition

Chapter 46 of Isaiah is not terribly lengthy:
Bel has bowed down, Nebo stoops over;
Their images are consigned to the beasts and the cattle.
The things that you carry are burdensome,
A load for the weary beast.
They stooped over, they have bowed down together;
They could not rescue the burden,
But have themselves gone into captivity.

"Listen to Me, O house of Jacob,
And all the remnant of the house of Israel,
You who have been borne by Me from birth,
And have been carried from the womb;
Even to your old age, I shall be the same,
And even to your graying years I shall bear you!
I have done it, and I shall carry you;
And I shall bear you, and I shall deliver you.

"To whom would you liken Me,
And make Me equal and compare Me,
That we should be alike?
Those who lavish gold from the purse
And weigh silver on the scale
Hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god;
They bow down, indeed they worship it.
They lift it upon the shoulder and carry it;
They set it in its place and it stands there.
It does not move from its place.
Though one may cry to it, it cannot answer;
It cannot deliver him from his distress.

"Remember this, and be assured;
Recall it to mind, you transgressors.
Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying 'My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all in My good pleasure;'
Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man of my purpose from a far country.
Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass.
I have planned it, surely will I do it.

"Listen to Me, you stubborn-minded,
Who are far from righteousness.
I will bring near My righteousness, it is not far off;
And My salvation will not delay.
And I will grant salvation in Zion,
And My glory for Israel."
Which of our sins cannot be understood in terms of idolatry? That is, if our definition of "idolatry" isn't overly narrow. I understand myself to be committing idolatry whenever I put anything in the place of God; making a golden or wooden statue and bowing to it and praying to it would certainly qualify, but aren't really necessary. I could, for example, spend my time, or money, or energy, on something that has the effect of moving me farther from God, or displeasing Him. I do things of that sort every day -- sometimes knowingly, because my will is corrupt, and sometimes through lack of awareness, because my mind's asleep.

Now idolatry is a species of wickedness, and it ought to horrify us -- certainly, it would if our consciences responded to our deeds in a truly ordinate way. But it strikes me in this passage, and many others in the Scriptures, that God makes a very down-to-earth and -- in a strange way -- humble objection to our idolatry: simply that it doesn't work. An idol, as He points out here, is a burden that we must bear. By contrast, He, the true and living God, carries us, and hears and helps us in our distress. This Old Testament utterance from God has, to me, a strong flavor of "gentle Jesus, meek and mild." Since Jesus is, in fact, God, I suppose that's very fitting.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

The Third Term

Amendment 22, U.S. Constitution:
"No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once ..."
Let's just repeal this sucker. Or, on second thought, why bother? We can just give it the Tenth Amendment treatment and pretend it isn't there. President Barack Dubya O'Bushma's minions aren't missing a beat:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Iran’s leaders on Sunday that if they were seeking nuclear weapons, “your pursuit is futile,” and ruled out explicitly the possibility that the Obama administration would allow Iran to produce its own nuclear fuel, even under intense international inspection.

[ ... ]

“You have a right to pursue the peaceful use of civil, nuclear power,” she said, as if addressing Iran directly. “You do not have a right to obtain a nuclear weapon. You do not have the right to have the full enrichment and reprocessing cycle under your control. But there’s a lot that we can do with Iran if Iran accepts what is the international consensus.”

Her phrase “under your control” seemed to leave open the possibility of having others enrich uranium on Iran’s behalf, perhaps on Iranian soil.

Mrs. Clinton also found herself in the uncomfortable position of explaining the recent comments of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who on returning from a visit to Georgia offered a surprisingly downbeat assessment of Russia’s future and its intentions.

“They have a shrinking population base,” Mr. Biden told The Wall Street Journal. “They have a withering economy. They have a banking sector and structure that is not likely to be able to withstand the next 15 years. They’re in a situation where the world is changing before them and they’re clinging to something in the past that is not sustainable.”
Yes, this really is how Secretary of State Condoleezza Clinton talks in public -- as if Almighty God had gone on an extended vacation and left her in charge of the universe. And, as for Vice-President Joseph Cheney, sneering about a country with a shrinking population, a withering economy, a "banking structure" that's not long for this world, and clinging to an unsustainable past: maybe he mistook a mirror for a window.

"Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad." I wonder which of our glorious supervisors we'll see first out in the pasture, on hands and knees, chowing down on the grass, Nebuchadnezzar-style.

[Hat tip to IOZ for noticing this first.]

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Missing the Obvious

There being a current shortage of dead alleged entertainers, our managers seem to think we Americans need some other diversion to prevent our noticing the ongoing government/corporate looting of the wreckage of the republic. So, this non-story has legs that keep on runnin'.

The professionally-racially-aggrieved appear to be willing to be mollified, if only the cops could show that they abuse white people at the same rate as colored people. And most white people appear to think that it's fine that the cops should go on abusing people, because they're pretty sure that white people aren't getting cop-abused.

It's the old divide-and-dominate game. Get us at each other's throats, and we won't ask why we should pay a whole class of uniformed thugs to abuse us. We'll just quibble about the details of the distribution of the abuse.

Want less cop abuse? Have fewer cops -- lots fewer cops.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Word for Wednesday, July 22 Edition

I haven't gone far in Isaiah during this past week, as sloth and disorganization have exacted their usual price. But, right here in chapter 40, God provides us, through the prophet, with a perspective-restorer. Verses 18 through 26:
To whom then will you liken God?
Or what likeness will you compare with Him?
As for the idol, a craftsman casts it,
A goldsmith plates it with gold,
And a silversmith fashions chains of silver.
He who is too impoverished for such an offering
Selects a tree that does not rot;
He seeks out for himself a skilled craftsman
To prepare an idol that will not totter.

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is He who sits above the vault of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
He it is who reduces the rulers to nothing,
Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.
Scarcely have they been planted,
Scarcely have they been sown,
Scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth,
But He merely blows on them, and they wither,
And the storm carries them away like stubble.
"To whom then will you liken Me
That I should be his equal?" says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power
Not one of them is missing.
Well, I don't know about you; my experience, shamefully enough, is that I do know, and I have heard, and it has been declared to me from the beginning; but I'm weak-minded and forgetful, and I need reminding all the time. Which might be the best thing about reading the Bible on a basis approaching regularity ... thereby are the reminders provided. Thereby is the weak mind built up and reinforced. Thereby are peace and rest obtained.

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It Would Be Funny, Except ...

Our supervisors have made bloody hash out of Iraq, and Afghanistan, and bits-and-pieces of Pakistan. Now, fresh from that string of triumphs, one of President Rainbow Brite's more ferocious minions expresses Washington's managerial instincts afresh:
PHUKET, Thailand — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that the United States would consider extending a “defense umbrella” over the states in the Persian Gulf region if Iran does not bow to international demands to halt its nuclear program.

Her comment, delivered at a freewheeling town hall meeting in Bangkok, was both a warning to the Iranian government and a glimpse of how the Obama administration might cope with a nuclear-armed Iran, should Tehran continue with what Washington says is a sustained effort to acquire nuclear weapons. Iran insists that its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only.

Mrs. Clinton later said that she was not articulating a new American policy toward Iran, merely demonstrating that Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon would not give it the safety and security it believes it would.

A defense umbrella in the Persian Gulf would move the United States closer to the explicit s
ecurity guarantee that Washington gives allies in Asia, though that is a nuclear umbrella — a term Mrs. Clinton did not use Wednesday. She did talk about fortifying the military ability of Iran’s neighbors.

“We want Iran to calculate what I think is a fair assessment that if the U.S. extends a defense umbrella over the region, if we do even more to support the military capacity of those in the Gulf,” she said, “it’s unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer, because they won’t be able to intimidate and dominate, as they apparently believe they can, once they have a nuclear weapon.”

If you think of this virago merely as a mouthpiece of a failed state -- a state without a productive economy, without any effectively-guaranteed civil liberties, without a sound currency, and without an educational system worthy of the name -- then her threatening, hectoring words would at least offer some comic amusement to her audiences. But we're talking about a failed state that's sitting on a huge pile of nukes. And we're not talking about a semi-respectable, genteel sort of failed state, whose soggy collapse is being overseen by sober-but-weary grownups. We're talking about one ruled by bizarre clowns. Bizarre, evil clowns, that is.

"Extend a defense umbrella over the Gulf ..." What a novel idea! Of course, we've been defending our hand-selected petro-puppets for most of a century, now, against invasion by anyone except us (and The Precioussssss). We've defended those folk against even the scourge of Islamic democracy. Sounds like a very small variation on a theme that's been played, and played, and played.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ahoy, There, Cap'n Trade!

Okay, so -- just for giggles! -- let's suppose that emitting carbon dioxide really is a Bad Thing. (Quit exercising, people!) What I can't quite figure out is why, once our supervisors decide that something is Bad, they don't simply forbid it. Instead, they decide that the privilege of being allowed to do a Bad Thing is their property, and they sell us the privilege. Why, you'd think that our supervisors were uninterested in moral uplift, and instead are simply shaking us down, wouldn't you?

Oh, you say, but it's our government, so the money they take in is really our money, isn't it? And they'll spend it on us! Well, sure, as long as we want the right things ... and as long as we do what they tell us. Otherwise, goodbye, "federal" funds!

"And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free ..."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Word for Wednesday, July 15 Edition

Continuing with the prophet Isaiah, this time in chapter 37. A little context: the Assyrians have been taking the fortified cities of Judah, because God enabled them and "stirred them up" to do it, because of Judah's misdeeds against Him. The Assyrians, under Sennacherib, have become His tool in punishing the Judeans. The tool, however, has blasphemed its user, having assured the Judeans in general, and King Hezekiah in particular, that their God will be completely unable to stop the Assyrians from overwhelming Jerusalem. (Had they prophesied that God would be unwilling to stop them, perhaps they would have been correct; but, as it was, they claimed instead to be so bad that God couldn't stop them.) So, He talks to Hezekiah, through Isaiah, verses 21 through 29 of chapter 37:
Then Isiaiah the son of Amoz sent word to Hezekiah, saying, "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'Because you have prayed to Me about Sennacherib king of Assyria, this is the word that the Lord has spoken against him:

She has despised you and mocked you,
The virgin daughter of Zion;
She has shaken her head behind you,
The daughter of Jerusalem!
Whom have you reproached and blasphemed?
And against whom have you raised your voice,
And haughtily lifted up your eyes?
Against the Holy One of Israel!
Through your servants you have reproached the Lord,
And you have said, "With my many chariots I came up to the mountains,
To the remotest parts of Lebanon;
And I cut down its tall cedars and its choice cypresses.
And I will go to its highest peak, its thickest forest.
I dug wells and drank waters,
And with the sole of my feet I dried up
All the rivers of Egypt."
Have you not heard?
Long ago I did it,
From ancient times I planned it.
Now I have brought it to pass,
That you should turn fortified cities into ruinous heaps.
Therefore their inhabitants were short of strength,
They were dismayed and put to shame;
They were as the vegetation of the field and as the green herb,
As grass on the housetops is scorched before it is grown up.
But I know your sitting down,
And your going out and your coming in,
And your raging against Me.
Because of your raging against Me,
And because your arrogance has come up to My ears,
Therefore I will put My hook in your nose,
And My bridle in your lips,
And I will turn you back by the way which you came."
The sons are disciplined; the strangers, and the tools, are apt to be destroyed once they become disobedient or arrogant. Family is everything.

The originator of the Word for Wednesday will have links to others' WFW posts, as well as her own.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Priced Out Of the Market?

A man I know at the day job emailed me a link. The essay is well worth a read. Here's an excerpt:
The sticking point with all these countries is the US ability to print unlimited amounts of dollars. Overspending by US consumers on imports in excess of exports, US buy-outs of foreign companies and real estate, and the dollars that the Pentagon spends abroad all end up in foreign central banks. These agencies then face a hard choice: either to recycle these dollars back to the United States by purchasing US Treasury bills, or to let the "free market" force up their currency relative to the dollar - thereby pricing their exports out of world markets and hence creating domestic unemployment and business insolvency.

When China and other countries recycle their dollar inflows by buying US Treasury bills to "invest" in the United States, this buildup is not really voluntary. It does not reflect faith in the U.S. economy enriching foreign central banks for their savings, or any calculated investment preference, but simply a lack of alternatives. "Free markets" US-style hook countries into a system that forces them to accept dollars without limit. Now they want out.
This is the part that I have trouble wrapping my head around. If I'm a Chinese manufacturer, why do I sell my goods to anyone in exchange for US Federal Reserve Notes, when I can plainly see that they're useful primarily as toilet paper, based as they are solely on the "full faith and credit" of a collection of political whores who lie for their living? Sure, the US is a big market ... but it's a big BROKE market. Why wouldn't I tell the corporate successors of ol' Grampaw Sam Walton: Sure, I'll sell you my "China Steel Garden Shovel." As many shovels as you want. The unit price is 75 renminbi, with a ten percent discount for volumes of over 100,000. Oh, you don't have any renminbi? Go to the currency brokers and buy some.

So the renminbi's value, relative to the US dollar, increases by a factor of two, or five, or ten, or whatever. How does that price my shovels out of the world market? (I can see how it prices them out of the US market pretty good, but that's not the same thing.) Can't I still sell them to Brazilians or Indians, for reals or rupees? If Uncle Sam is the world's only slug, then presumably the reals and rupees have also become more valuable, relative to dollars, by the same factor, more or less, that the renminbi has. (Which is another way of saying that the real-to-renminbi or rupee-to-renminbi exchange rate should remain approximately constant.) And, if not, that's telling me that the Brazilians and Indians are also American-style ne'er-do-wells, to one extent or another, so maybe I don't want to send them shovels either, not in exchange for their flavor of wastepaper. Bottom line: you can still trade with solid citizens. And if there aren't any solid citizens left in the world, well, I guess there won't be much trade, either.

I'm sure there's something here that I'm just not getting.

Still, the writer's overall point is that the American Empire is economically doomed. I hope he's right. Because, after all, it isn't only about the money. In fact, it isn't primarily about the money at all.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

My Inner Geek Comes Out to Play

Or, at least, to ask some questions of our Great Leaders:
Developed and developing nations have agreed that global temperatures should not rise more than 2C above 1900 levels, a G8 summit declaration says.

That is the level above which, the UN says, the Earth's climate system would become dangerously unstable.

US President Barack Obama said the countries had made important strides in dealing with climate change.
Now, my Inner Geek wants to make it clear from the outset that atmospheric physics is not his field of alleged expertise. He makes his living trying to herd electromagnetic waves in the general frequency range of 7E+14 to 2E+13 Hz toward useful destinations, using optical technologies. My Inner Geek, however, is not here to propose any crackpot pseudo-theories of his own. He just has a few humble questions for Our Great Leaders:

1. O Great Leaders, how many of you are atmospheric physicists?

2. You have declared, O Great Leaders, that "global temperatures" must not rise by an amount, specified in one significant figure, from what they were at a date containing a glorious two significant figures. May I be pardoned, O Great Leaders, for wondering, with some skepticism, just how rigorous a calculation produced your specification?

3. Just exactly what, O Great Leaders, must be measured in order to produce the quantity you call "global temperatures?" Please tell us: exactly what temperatures are these? How, exactly, are they to be combined to determine when a 2C° increase has occurred? In fact, what were those "global temperatures" in 1900, and what is the uncertainty in your knowledge of this value? May a humble Inner Geek see your analysis, on which that unspecified uncertainty is based?

4. Why 1900, O Great Leaders? Was there something uniquely garden-like about Planet Earth in that year? Why not 1970? Or 1950? Or 1800? 1066 was a memorable year, was it not? Or 1588? Mightn't 1,000,000 BC be even more suitable? (I think Racquel Welch appeared in a film with that title, and she's awfully good-looking, in this humble Inner Geek's opinion.)

5. "Dangerously unstable," you say? What -- is our climate safely stable today? Was it in 1900? What's the definition of these terms? What is it that happens at delta T = 1.6 C° (that would be 2 C°, to one significant figure) that doesn't happen at delta T = 1.4 C° (1 C°, to one significant figure).

6. O Great Leaders, can you show me what your climate model predicted, ten years ago, that "global temperatures" (whatever that means) should be today? And what is the difference between your model prediction and what we actually have? And don't fudge, now. I can always tell when you actually have a bunch of model predictions, of which most or all are wrong by several degrees. It's something in the way you won't look me in the eye.

Gentle readers, I don't think I'll hold my breath while waiting for the exalted heads of the G8 to answer my Inner Geek's questions.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

They Snooze, They Lose

The GAO says that the Federal Protective Service, which is charged with protecting the nomenklatura from, let's face it, us, is not doing a very good job.

Well, uh ... fine by me.

The Word for Wednesday, July 8 Edition

Isaiah chapter 35:
The wilderness and the desert will be glad,
And the Arabah will rejoice and blossom;
Like the crocus
It will blossom profusely
And rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
The majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the glory of the Lord,
The majesty of our God.
Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
Say to those with anxious heart,
"Take courage fear not.
Behold, your God will come with vengeance;
The recompense of God will come,
But He will save you."
Then the eyes of the blind will be opened,
And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.
Then the lame will leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy.
For waters will break forth in the wilderness
And streams in the Arabah.
And the scorched land will become a pool,
And the thirsty ground springs of water;
In the haunt of the jackals, its resting place,
Grass becomes reeds and rushes.
And a highway will be there, a roadway,
And it will be called the Highway of Holiness.
The unclean will not travel on it,
But it will be for him who walks that way,
And fools will not wander on it.
No lion will be there,
Nor will any vicious beast go up on it;
These will not be found there.
But the redeemed will walk there,
And the ransomed of the Lord will return,
And come with joyful shouting to Zion,
With everlasting joy upon their heads.
They will find gladness and joy,
And sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Divine restorations from the wreckage of the deeds of men have happened in the past; but the permanent restoration prophesied in Revelation has yet to come. Man remains man, and our world remains a swamp of sin, in which things that have been pulled out, cleaned up, and set on solid ground seem endlessly able to slide back down into the muck. Still, that which is decribed above sounds awfully good to me, whether permanent or not. And the permanent, ultimately, is coming.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Neither Dulce nor Decorum Est

Going to other people's homelands to kill them is dangerous and frequently fatal, as many young Americans have discovered. But those who arrange their travel often live to ripe old ages like 93. 'Tis pity that people like the late Robert Strange McNamara aren't obliged to go and do their own killing and dying, rather than conscripting or enticing those with less experience and fewer advantages into their filthy business.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Freakshows and Circuses

So, it's the Fourth-uh-July, once again, and I've made the hideous mistake of having the "news" on. I see that it's still wall-to-wall Jacko, along with a little miscellaneous trivia having to do with the resignation of the governor of Alaska (but not much of that latter, really). Meanwhile, official unemployment's going through ten per cent -- you can safely figure that real unemployment is more, by at least half again -- and our futile attempts to put down unrest in our recently-acquired southwest Asian provinces continue. The corporate/government criminals' club continue to create pseudo-money in order to steal it, since there's already nothing but debt in the "treasury" (maybe we should call it the "debtery?").

It seems to me that the misdirection ploy will work only so long. When people are actually hungry, they aren't going to be diverted by dead celebrities, and it's not even going to be easy to convince them that they need to be all wound up about the Iranians getting nukes and inconveniencing the Israelis. Not that they're suddenly going to become principled revolutionaries or anything; mobs are notoriously unthoughtful. All in all, we may be seeing some highly interesting times in the months and years to come.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall

I shoplifted this from Grace Nearing. It's excerpted from the work of James Kunstler.
Like the United States, Michael Jackson was spectacularly bankrupt, reportedly in the range of $800-million, which is rather a lot for an individual. Had he lived on a few more years, he might have qualified for his own TARP program -- another piece of expensive dead-weight down in the economy's bilges -- since it is our established policy now to throw immense sums of so-called "money" at gigantic failing enterprises (while millions of ordinary citizens wash overboard, without so much as a life-preserver). Anyway, Michael Jackson was on the receiving end of one huge bank loan after another long after his pattern of profligacy was set and obvious. They threw money at him for the same reason that the federal government throws money at entities like CitiBank: the desperate hope that some miracle will allow debt servicing to resume. Michael could burn through $50-million in half a year. It didn't seem to affect his credibility as a borrower. When his heart stopped last week, he was living in a Hollywood mansion that rented for several hundred thousand dollars a month. You wonder how the landlord cashed those checks.

Like the USA, Michael Jackson was a has-been. He hadn't recorded a song worth listening to in over two decades. He had done almost nothing but spin his wheels, hop around the globe from one place to another at enormous expense, and make himself available for award ceremonies to stoke his ego (and give advertisers a reason to promote some televised award show). He existed strictly on image, an anorectic figure nourished by moonbeams of attention, famous for saying that he loved his worshippers when the truth was he merely sucked the life out of them. In his last years, he even looked a bit like Nosferatu, the personification of the un-dead, and his fascination with ghouls was the basis for his biggest hit way back in the last century. A zombie nation deserves a zombie mascot.
I'm thinking it's too late for the USA -- that our vampirism/lycanthropy is beyond curing. If anyone wants to try, though ... now's the time.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Word for Wednesday, July 1 Edition

And it is still Wednesday -- just barely. I was going to go online a couple of hours ago, but I made the mistake of sitting down in the Evil Blue Chair for "just a few minutes." Oh, sure, just a few minutes. Well, the Evil Blue Chair had its way with me. Fortunately, it wasn't an all-nighter. Actually, I'm sure my wife would eventually have become curious and would have hunted me down and awakened me. But, anyway ...

Isaiah chapter 28:
Woe to the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim,
And to the fading flower of its glorious beauty,
Which is at the head of the fertile valley
Of those who are overcome with strong wine!
Behold, the Lord has a strong and mighty agent;
As a storm of hail, a tempest of destruction,
Like a storm of mighty overflowing waters,
He has cast it down to earth with His hand.
The proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim is trodden under foot.
And the fading flower of its glorious beauty,
Which is at the head of the fertile valley,
Will be like the first-ripe fig prior to summer;
Which one sees,
And as soon as it is in his hand,
He swallows it.
In that day the Lord of hosts will become a beautiful crown
And a glorious diadem to the remnant of His people;
A spirit of justice for him who sits in judgment,
A strength to those who repel the onslaught at the gate.
And these also reel with wine and stagger from strong drink:
The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink,
They are confused by wine, they stagger from strong drink;
They reel while having visions,
They totter when rendering judgment.
For all the tables are full of filthy vomit, without a single clean space.

"To whom would He teach knowledge?
And to whom would he interpret the message?
Those just weaned from milk?
Those just taken from the breast?
For He says,
'Order on order, order on order,
Line on line, line on line,
A little here, a little there.' "
Indeed, He will speak to this people
Through stammering lips and a foreign tongue,
He who said to them, "Here is rest, give rest to the weary,"
And "Here is repose," but they would not listen.
So the word of the Lord to them will be,
"Order on order, order on order,
Line on line, line on line,
A little here, a little there."
That they may go and stumble backward, be broken, snared, and taken captive.
Therefore, hear the word of the Lord, O scoffers,
Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem,
Because you have said, "We have made a covenant with death,
And with Sheol we have made a pact.
The overwhelming scourge will not reach us when it passes by,
For we have made falsehood our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception."
Therefore thus says the Lord God,
"Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone,
A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed.
He who believes in it will not be disturbed.
And I will make justice the measuring line,
And righteousness the level;
Then hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies,
And the waters shall overflow the secret place.
And your covenant with death shall be canceled,
And your pact with Sheol shall not stand;
When the overwhelming scourge passes through,
Then you become its trampling place.
As often as it passes through, it will seize you.
For morning after morning it will pass through, anytime during the day or night.
And it will be sheer terror to understand what it means."
The bed is too short on which to stretch out,
And the blanket is too small to wrap oneself in.
For the Lord will rise up as at Mount Perazim, He will be stirred up as in the valley of Gibeon;
To do His task, His unusual task,
And to do His work, His extraordinary work.
And now do not carry on as scoffers,
Lest your fetters be made stronger;
For I have heard from the Lord God of hosts,
Of decisive destruction on all the earth.

Give ear and hear my voice,
Listen and hear my words.
Does the farmer plow continually to plant seed?
Does he continually turn and harrow the ground?
Does he not level its surface,
And sow dill and scatter cummin,
And plant wheat in rows,
Barley in its place, and rye within its area?
For his God instructs and teaches him properly.
For dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge,
Nor is the cart wheel driven over cummin;
But dill is beaten out with a rod, and cummin with a club.
Grain for bread is crushed,
Indeed, he does not continue to thresh it forever.
Because the wheel of his cart and his horses eventually damage it,
He does not thresh it longer.
This also comes from the Lord of hosts,
Who has made His counsel wonderful and His wisdom great.
Okay, first thing: I've got to quit quoting whole chapters, because that's a lot of typing. But as the idea is developed and explained, where is one to cut it off? Or maybe I should ask, who am I to cut it off?

As seems to be a pattern with Isaiah, we get a description of the problem, and a warning about what God's going to do about it; and in between, we get a prophecy of something quite wonderful. In the first part, everybody's (symbolically) drunk, notably the priest and the prophet, who are so far gone they can't do their jobs, and there's puke all over the place. The human way of dealing with this is through lies and self-deception, and accommodations with that which should simply be fought. God's way of dealing with this is the costly foundation cornerstone that He places in Zion; this stone is referred to multiple times in the New Testament. Peter identifies the stone with Jesus (Acts 4), and also with the believers who make up the Church (1 Peter 2); Paul identifies it with faith in Jesus (Romans 9 and 10), and with Jesus Himself (Ephesians 2); and, most importantly, Jesus also made the identification with Himself (Matthew 21, Mark 12, Luke 20). Justice is to be the measuring line, righteousness the level, lies and shameful secrets are to be revealed, and agreements with evil are to be swept away.

As a critic of American mores and governance, I am of course tempted to grab this chapter and particularize it; it seems natural, when contemplating our whorish supervisors as they grub through the ruins of a formerly wealthy and productive country, seeking a decaying scrap on which to feed, to appropriate the image from verse 8 (For all the tables are full of filthy vomit, without a single clean space.) It does indeed, I think, apply quite well to America 2009; but equally well to many other places and times. It's fallen human-ness in a fallen world. And I exult in one thing: my Lord and God has paid the price for the cleanup, and -- while I don't and can't know the schedule -- it's on that schedule. I know that my Redeemer lives. It stinks badly around here at present; but let's keep the smell in perspective. Ultimately and eternally, it's not very important. It will pass, and is passing.

As always, check here for more Words for Wednesday.