Thursday, March 25, 2010

The End Of the World As We Know It

This past Monday morning, I arrived at the YMCA, as is my custom, at about 5:10 am for my weekday morning workout. The first person to whom I spoke was the lady at the desk who scanned the bar code on the tag on my gym bag: just the routine "good morning." The second was a guy in the men's locker room, and he was lividly angry. Had I seen the front page of the morning paper? I had not. Well, ObamaCare had passed, the man noted with several bitter obscenities, and the US had become a communist dictatorship. Our future was entirely without hope. Alrighty, then. The next person was a lady who spoke to me as I set up my bike in "spinning" class. She, too, was desolated by the sudden advent of socialism in America, although she wasn't cursing about it, at least. But she was decidedly unhappy, as the U.S. Constitution had been decisively trashed by Sunday night's congressional action.

And then yesterday, during my lunch break, I read this comment at the "Thinking Housewife" blog:
The comments in “How Socialism Affects Character” are too passive in formulation. Socialism is not something that happens via some mysterious natural process, like a hurricane or an earthquake. Evil people are doing this to us. “Socialism,” as such, is not changing our character; leftist politicians are quite deliberately trying to change human nature, partly because this serves their political interests, and partly because their beliefs are profoundly misguided.

With respect to Clark Coleman’s comment, leftists want the government to take over health care precisely because this will kill the unique spirit of America, and cause the people to look to government for solutions, and foster the European mindset. For our leftist overlords, these character changes are a positive and intended feature, not an unintended side-effect.

With respect to Lydia’s comment, again, the leftist politicians who have enacted this legislation actively want to reduce the American people to gossiping about triviality, to ignorance of their history, to blaming and envying others instead of taking action themselves.

With respect to Sheila’s comment, the leftists actively want to create an entitlement mentality (after all, they provide the entitlements in exchange for votes), and to reduce the number of people who are determined to make it on their own and are chary of government assistance and too proud to accept charity.

I am being somewhat redundant here because I think one cannot overstress the role of human agency. The Democrats – an utterly venal and evil group of people – wish to interpose the government – i.e. themselves – in every human transaction. They want to decide who gets what, regardless of the Constitution or the wishes of the American people. They could not have come as far as they have without changing human nature and conditioning people to accept it for decades. They can only “succeed” if they change human nature in enough voters that the entitled and the apathetic outnumber those who cherish freedom and individual initiative. I put “succeed” in quotes because their “success” will only mean temporary power for individual politicians. Over the long term, they will fail, because socialism has resulted in ruin, poverty, and large-scale slaughter everywhere it has been tried, and America will not escape this fate either.
Now, here's the thing. In a broad, general sense, and setting some overheated hyperbole aside, I agree with all of these people. The recently-enacted "health care reform" is indeed a terrible idea, and it is indeed unconstitutional. It will indeed increase the sway of the central government over all our lives, and it will indeed hasten the economic collapse of the US. What I don't get is what's unique about it, and why it is so intensely upsetting to what, for lack of a better term, I'll call "the right."

Has the FedGov not already set the current configuration of American "health care?" Where did the whole odd concept of health "insurance" come from, except WWII-era government controls on income (and the subsequent exemption of that form of compensation from taxation)? Where was the explosion of rage when Saint Dubya decided to create a federal benefit for prescription medicine?

I certainly agree with the above-cited commenter that the Democratic officeholders, at least, are a venal bunch, although "utterly evil" seems rather hyperbolic. What I don't get is how that distinguishes them from Republican officeholders. It's a good thing the news media traditionally identifies Our Glorious Leaders by their formal crime-family affiliations; if you judge by most of the words, and essentially all of the actions, of these corporate bagmen (and -women), you'd never tell the difference. Come to think of it, maybe it isn't a good thing that they are so identified; it only contributes to the massive public confusion. Which is probably the whole idea in the first place.

Let's take a wider look. Where was the outrage when the "Patriot" Acts were passed? (Oh, that's right, Dubya again.) Why weren't any of these people angry about the unconstitutional, criminal, fully-optional, and generally insane wars that we're now involved in? (Dubya ... hmmmm, I sense a theme here.)

Look, folks, you were so pathetically eager, not so long ago, to be Imperial subjects. Well, you got your wish. Now, please have the dignity to shut up and enjoy it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Word for Wednesday, March 24

Ah, Paul! That apostle could write a sentence unequalled pretty much anywhere. Readers should perhaps be glad that most people don't write such sentences. My quest for New Testament counsel on believers being armed has led me to 2 Corinthians chapter 6, verse 7 -- but, as I refuse to quote any passage smaller than a complete sentence, I'll need to cite the first ten verses of that chapter:
And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain -- for He says, "At the acceptable time I listened to you; and on the day of salvation I helped you;" behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation -- giving no cause for offense in anything, in order that the ministry be not discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.
Yes, those 164 words form one sentence. It would not be recognized in a composition class as an exemplary sentence, but that, after all, is not its purpose.

Weapons are mentioned (" ... weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left ..."), but in context I don't think literal "weapons," in the gun-knife-or-sword sense, are what the apostle is talking about. The long and much-mixed list from the quoted passage is a list, I think, of many and varied opportunities in which the believer may serve God. Toward the end of the list are some opposed pairs, such as "sorrowful yet always rejoicing." The idea, as I read it, is that no matter what happens, the believer can respond in a way that glorifies his or her creator and redeemer. So, I think I'll classify this passage as not speaking directly to the question of whether a Christian may, or should, be armed.

Click here for more Words for Wednesday.

Monday, March 15, 2010

What We Have Hee-ya Is a Failya to Communicate

I certainly hope the Obama administration knows its place. It wouldn't do to backsass when the Boss is talking:
(Reuters) - Defying the United States, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected on Monday placing any curbs on building homes for Jews around Jerusalem.

"For the past 40 years, no Israeli government ever limited construction in the neighborhoods of Jerusalem," he said in a speech in parliament, citing areas in the West Bank that Israel captured in a 1967 war and annexed to the city.

Netanyahu made the remarks after Israeli media reported that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had demanded Israel cancel a project to build 1,600 settler homes in East Jerusalem, a plan that has caused a crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations.
Now, Hillary ... now, Barack ... better take your cues from Rabbi Joe Biden. Best you get your minds right, and show that you got your minds right. Don't you force AIPAC to bitch-slap you. You know they don't want to ... but you also know they will, if you make them. Straighten up and fly right!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pointless of Me

And another administration's gonna set the schoolin' of the chilluns straight:
President Obama’s plan would replace the No Child law’s requirement that every American child reach proficiency in reading and math, which administration officials have called utopian, with a new national target that may be even harder to achieve: that all students should graduate from high school prepared for college and a career.

“Under these guidelines, schools that achieve excellence or show real progress will be rewarded,” he said in his weekly radio address, “and local districts will be encouraged to commit to change in schools that are clearly letting their students down.”
So, where again is the text in the Constitution that authorizes the central government to busy itself in education?

I'm sorry, I forgot again. I'll stop asking pointless and futile questions.

The Libertarian Party: R.I.D.

Republicans In Drag, that is. Check out a stalwart of the local outfit, concerning the upcoming "census":
Robert Enders on March 12th, 2010 3:47 pm

The rationale behind the warning letters was that if they increase compliance with the surveys that are being mailed out, then they would in fact save taxpayer money. Fewer census workers would have to be hired if more people fill out the forms that they are sent.

Here’s my attitude towards the matter: If you don’t fill out the form, you shouldn’t get counted. Period. If you can’t be bothered with a simple form, then the federal government doesn’t owe you any services.
Yeah! And if you can't be bothered to show the nice policeman your papers -- and in order, too, to be sure -- you deserve to get shot or tased or whatever.

That's okay, though; he's probably in favor of "decriminalizing medicinal marijuana" or something.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Banality of Evil

Our torturers apparently work to highly technical procedures (via Excerpts:
Interrogators pumped detainees full of so much water that the CIA turned to a special saline solution to minimize the risk of death, the documents show. The agency used a gurney "specially designed" to tilt backwards at a perfect angle to maximize the water entering the prisoner's nose and mouth, intensifying the sense of choking – and to be lifted upright quickly in the event that a prisoner stopped breathing.

The documents also lay out, in chilling detail, exactly what should occur in each two-hour waterboarding "session." Interrogators were instructed to start pouring water right after a detainee exhaled, to ensure he inhaled water, not air, in his next breath. They could use their hands to "dam the runoff" and prevent water from spilling out of a detainee's mouth. They were allowed six separate 40-second "applications" of liquid in each two-hour session – and could dump water over a detainee's nose and mouth for a total of 12 minutes a day. Finally, to keep detainees alive even if they inhaled their own vomit during a session – a not-uncommon side effect of waterboarding – the prisoners were kept on a liquid diet. The agency recommended Ensure Plus.


Documents drafted by CIA medical officials in 2003, about a year after the agency started using the waterboard, describe more aggressive procedures to get the water out and the subject breathing. "An unresponsive subject should be righted immediately," the CIA Office of Medical Services ordered in its Sept. 4, 2003, medical guidelines for interrogations. "The interrogator should then deliver a sub-xyphoid thrust to expel the water." (That's a blow below the sternum, similar to the thrust delivered to a chocking victim in the Heimlich maneuver.)

But even those steps might not force the prisoner to resume breathing. Waterboarding, according to the Bradbury memo, could produce "spasms of the larynx" that might keep a prisoner from breathing "even when the application of water is stopped and the detainee is returned to an upright position." In such cases, Bradbury wrote, "a qualified physician would immediately intervene to address the problem and, if necessary, the intervening physician would perform a tracheotomy." The agency required that "necessary emergency medical equipment" be kept readily available for that procedure. The documents do not say if doctors ever performed a tracheotomy on a prisoner.


The CIA's waterboarding regimen was so excruciating, the memos show, that agency officials found themselves grappling with an unexpected development: detainees simply gave up and tried to let themselves drown. "In our limited experience, extensive sustained use of the waterboard can introduce new risks," the CIA's Office of Medical Services wrote in its 2003 memo. "Most seriously, for reasons of physical fatigue or psychological resignation, the subject may simply give up, allowing excessive filling of the airways and loss of consciousness."

The agency's medical guidelines say that after a case of "psychological resignation" by a detainee on the waterboard, an interrogator had to get approval from a CIA doctor before doing it again.

The memo also contains a last, little-noticed paragraph that may be the most disturbing of all. It seems to say that the detainees subjected to waterboarding were also guinea pigs. The language is eerily reminiscent of the very reasons the Nuremberg Code was written in the first place. That paragraph reads as follows:

"NOTE: In order to best inform future medical judgments and recommendations, it is important that every application of the waterboard be thoroughly documented: how long each application (and the entire procedure) lasted, how much water was used in the process (realizing that much splashes off), how exactly the water was applied, if a seal was achieved, if the naso- or oropharynx was filled, what sort of volume was expelled, how long was the break between applications, and how the subject looked between each treatment."
People: what are we? Where are we living -- Mordor, or Hell?

Be sure to vote, now. Voting changes things.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dirty Jobs

What are former Rep. Massa's "staffers" complaining about, anyway? What did they expect? The old folks used to say, "When you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas."
Not long after Eric Massa joined Congress in January 2009, several male staff members began to feel uncomfortable with the sexually loaded language their boss routinely used, according to accounts relayed to the House ethics committee.

As the months passed, rumors began to circulate in the office that the married New York Democrat had sexually propositioned young male staffers and interns -- allegations, according to two sources with knowledge of the inquiry, that included Massa groping at least two aides.
So, it seems unreasonable to expect a good outcome from going to work for a Congresscreature. As a class, they are accessories to mass murder; they are strong-arm robbers; and they are sneak-thieves. So, are we supposed to be surprised when one in particular also turns out to be kind of off-brand, sexually, and lacking in continence?

C'mon, staffers. Call up Mike Rowe, if you like, and see if he wants to bring his crew out to document your "dirty job." But let's be realistic. If you accept pay as a minion for organized-crime types, don't expect decent treatment. Let's be grownups about this, shall we?

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Word for Monday, March 8

Looks as though it's apt to be "The Word for Various Random Days" for a while yet.

I'm traveling through John's gospel this evening, in my protracted search for Jesus's counsel concerning weapons. But I believe I'll take a break from that particular quest for the moment. In chapter 6, starting with verse 30, keeping in mind that the initial "they" is a crowd of people who've been following Jesus around the Sea of Galilee:
They said therefore to Him, "What then do You do for a sign, that we may see, and believe in You? What work do You perform? Our fathers ate manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.'" Jesus therefore said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world." They said therefore to Him, "Lord, evermore give us this bread." Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believe in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you, that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."

The Jews therefore were grumbling about Him, because He said, "I am the bread that came down out of heaven." And they were saying, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, 'I have come down out of heaven?'" Jesus answered and said to them, "Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up in the last day. It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught of God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. Not that any man has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh."

The Jews therefore began to argue with one another, saying, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?" Jesus therefore said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he shall also live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate, and died, he who eats this bread shall live forever."
What is there to say? What more needs to be said? What more can be said? From me, only this: I love that man. I'll just leave it at that.

Click here for actual Words for Wednesday, which is, in principle, what this is, too, sort of, except that it's not, you know, actually Wednesday today. [Big Lebowski: Do you dress like that to go looking for work? On a WEEKDAY? The Dude: Uh ... what day is this?]