Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Restoring the Constitution to it's rightful place

It's being butchered piece by piece; can it be restored by a similar process?

Taking back Constitution piece by piece
It is an immutable fact that the Constitution is the law of the land, but the law of the land should not be presumed to be immutable.

It isn’t.

No artifact of the human mind can be maintained intact like a formalin-preserved insect on a pin. No matter how much comfort it would give us to have predictability and certainty in our law, the elements of human curiosity and cussedness would always give rise to unpredictability and chaos.

This introduces the possibility of improvement, whether through design or through accident, but it also raises the spectre of decline, whether through stupidity or sabotage.

Improvements have come in the form of amendments that accomplished the abolition of slavery and giving women the right to vote. Those were both long overdue by the time they passed.

But there have also been mistakes made in the amendment process, including the prohibition of alcohol and the decision to turn senators into panderers by making them directly electable by the people instead of through the choice of each state’s legislature.

With more than a hundred years of monkey-wrenching the prime law of the land through “progressive” court decisions, there is also lots of damage to undo that is based on “precedent” rather than the plain language of the Constitution.

You could start with the Commerce Clause, which has been shaped into a choke collar to restrict the freedom of the people to engage in trade and seek prosperity. You could start by re-instituting real limits on the powers of Congress or the president, as enumerated in Articles I and II. You could force the nation to honor the Ninth and 10th Amendments, which are included in the Bill of Rights but might as well have been written in invisible ink since they are treated as if they were nonexistent by the Supreme Court, Congress and many presidents. [...]
It's worth reading the whole thing. But we've already reached the point where many people don't know what the Constitution says, and they don't care. In fact, many see it as an obstacle to "progress", and want it abolished.

More people need to wake up, before it's too late.
     

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Restoring Honor" attracts big crowd

I was wondering if they would manage to fill up the mall.  They did. 300,000:

‘Restoring Honor’ at the Lincoln Memorial; Update: Live Stream Included

‘Restoring Honor’: The Day After Wrap-Up & Whitewash

Alveda King speaks on whether her uncle Martin Luther King Jr. would stand with Glenn Beck or NAACP on Aug. 28
     

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Ground Zero Mosque: How close is it?

I call this too close for comfort:

Here’s Why It’s Called the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’
Much has been written about the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” and its proximity to where the World Trade Center towers once stood, but here’s an aereal photo that puts the location into perspective.

The red box is the old Burlington Coat Factory building where landing gear from one of the hijacked planes crashed through the roof, and it is the proposed site for Park51 [...]
I am against this choice of a site, for reasons previously mentioned.

President Obama is right that legally, the mosque builders have the right to build there.  And if our laws mean anything, and are to be applied to all citizens equally, then it cannot and must not be legally stopped.  If we did so, the mosque builders could rightly claim that we lie about upholding our own laws, and don't apply them equally. That must not happen; we are better than that.

However, the mosque builders themselves claim they are building this place as a bridge to promote peace and understanding.  Their insistence on doing so, in a place that causes offense to so many people, beLIES their claim.  It's being seen for what it is; arrogant, insensitive and confrontational, and meant to provoke an angry response. A "bridge" to nowhere.

The Democrat leadership is largely supporting them in this provocation, because the Democrat party has been using a divide and conquer strategy for some time now.  They divide people up into groups, and pit them against each other, then offer themselves and their growing, bloated bureaucracy as the solution to conflicts they helped foster in the first place.

If you want to put restraints on that practice, vote them out in November.

As for the mosque builders, if you disapprove of their choice of location, use your legal right to free speech and let them know about it. The more our objections fall on deaf ears, the more they look like the transparent liars that they surely are.

Beware of the practitioners of Al-Takeyya. Their words hide their true intentions. And in cases like this, their actions speak louder than their lies.


Also see:

An atheist on the GZ mosque

The Mosque and Ground Zero!

The mosque - this made me think

Freedom of religion - let's make a deal with the Muzzies

The principle of al-Taqiyya

     

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Afganistan: Russia returns as America departs

Russia Returns to Afghanistan with the U.S.'s Blessing
[...] Mounting Russian concerns that Islamist militancy and cheap drugs emanating from Afghanistan are a threat to its national security have made Moscow refocus on the region even as the U.S. and its NATO allies maneuver to draw down. Two decades after the Soviet army left Afghanistan in humiliating defeat, Russia is poised to spend billions in the war-wracked country to develop infrastructure, mineral and energy reserves, with new plans taking shape to boost military capability. This time around, it has America's blessing.

Mutual interests intersect in the former Cold War battleground. Nearly nine years on, the Taliban-led insurgency is costing the U.S. more lives and money than ever before. With a July 2011 deadline looming for troops to begin their withdrawal, the Obama Administration has been angling for regional partners to step in and shoulder a greater share of the burden.

[...]

Large-scale investment may also enter Afghanistan to help shore up the embattled Karzai regime - and to make money. Russian companies are currently trying to secure deals to upgrade dozens of Soviet-era installations, among them a $500 million plan to reconstruct hydroelectric plants and a similarly ambitious bid to build wells and irrigation systems in the Afghan countryside. Rosneft, the state-owned oil and gas giant, is exploring potentially lucrative gas fields in the north, while other companies are said to be hunting for minerals such as iron and aluminum. With big bucks to be made in a war economy, Russian officials and business leaders make no secret that they are out to help themselves to the spoils.

Moscow's decade-long occupation of Afghanistan from 1980 to 1989 may have left the Russians with advantages. Many Soviet-educated Afghans who fled the country under the Taliban have since returned, adding a degree of competence to a fledgling government - with perhaps more affinity for Moscow than for Washington. And, according to Haroun Mir, director of Afghanistan's Center for Research and Policy Studies, ex-communists heavily represented in the upper ranks of the national police and army remain the backbone of the security establishment. "They are knowledgeable and well-trained and we have to rely on them until a new corps can fill the vacuum," he says.

Faced with bigger worries and less reliable neighbors, the U.S. and NATO appear willing to accept growing Russian influence. "At this point, we can't afford to be too selective in terms of where we get help," says one Western diplomat in Kabul. Indeed, the gathering flurry of activity in Afghanistan is a sign: Russia is back.


Afghan president questions US timeline for leaving
[...] A statement by Karzai's office said the Afghan leader told the U.S. delegation that significant progress had been made in rebuilding the country after decades of war.

But he said the campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaida had faltered because of ongoing civilian casualties during NATO military operations and a lack of focus on "destroying the terrorists' refuge" across the border.

Karzai also said President Barack Obama's announcement that he would begin withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan in July 2011 has given "the enemy a morale boost" because they believe they can simply hold out until the Americans leave.

Rep. Bob Inglis, a Republican from South Carolina and one of the four U.S. congressmen who attended the one-hour meeting, said Karzai focused primarily on criticism of private security contractors and the role of Afghan forces in the war.

Karzai has ordered all Afghan and international security contractors to cease operations by the end of the year, saying they have abused Afghan civil rights and undermined the authority of the state.

Karzai also emphasized that Afghans should take the lead in going into villages to clear out Taliban, with U.S. soldiers behind them playing a supporting role, Inglis told The Associated Press.

"I was glad he said that because it indicated a level of ownership and commitment to Afghans taking charge of the task," Inglis said. But, "I think it's an open question as to whether the Afghan security forces (are) at that level as of yet."

Karzai also raised concerns about Taliban hideouts in Pakistan, Inglis said, asking the lawmakers to provide more help in trying to stop attacks from across the border.

"He seemed pretty pumped up, very determined and energetic and optimistic, which was not the way I thought we'd find him," Inglis said.

Inglis said the lawmakers raised the issue of corruption and that Karzai assured them he is working on it. Karzai tried to describe the difference between low-level corruption and high-level corruption, but the lawmakers told him both were unacceptable, Inglis said. [...]

Yeah, whatever. I'm sure the Russian's won't bother Karzai with those pesky corruption complaints. As for the terrorists across the border in Pakistan. Russia may deal with them, IF they think it's in their interest to do so. Or perhaps they will make an alliance with them, to try to gain a foothold in Pakistan. The Russians are always over-reaching, so who knows?

Anyway, we won't have much to say about it once we are gone.
     

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ford Fiesta makes it's return to the USA


Ford Fiesta earns top safety award
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The new Ford Fiesta was chosen as a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety on Wednesday, becoming the first minicar to win the top rating since the group added a rollover test to its requirements.

Both the 2011 Fiesta sedan and hatchback versions received top ratings for front, side, rollover, and rear crash protection, the IIHS said. The car was also praised for having electronic stability control as standard equipment.

But the award only applies to Fiestas built after July 2010, when Ford made design changes to minimize the possibility of doors opening in side impact crashes, according to IIHS.

[...]

Ford (F, Fortune 500) announced plans to reintroduce the Fiesta in the United States earlier this year as part of a plan to offer more small, fuel efficient cars. Along with the other major U.S. automakers, Ford sales have been slowly recovering after falling sharply during the Great Recession.

The 2011 Fiesta, with a base sticker price of $15,120, can travel an estimated 40 miles on one gallon of gasoline.

However, it remains to be seen how Fiesta sales will fare domestically.

More than 12 million Fiestas have been sold in Europe since it was introduced there in 1976. But the car was only sold in the U.S. market for a brief period between 1978 to 1980.

Well, it looks like a considerable improvement over the Fiesta's I remember from my youth. Still, not all reviews are thrilled:

2011 Ford Fiesta: I wish I could like it better

But in the comments section after that review, the reviewer himself is heavily criticized for nit-picking. The Fiesta is, after all, an ECONOMY car. Fine for tootling around town, great mileage, and safe too.


It's a great economy car to add to Ford's lineup. I hope it does well.


Also see:

The Ford 2009 Fiesta ECOnetic gets 65 mpg!
     

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Congratulations to Emmy winner Ann-Margret!


Read why she is is "One of the good ones":

Why It’s Nice That Ann-Margret Won An Emmy Last Night
On Saturday night here in Los Angeles legendary actor Ann-Margret finally won an Emmy after 6 previous nominations (she’s also been nominated twice for an Oscar). While the main Emmy awards are next Sunday, the “Creative Arts” subset were handed out Saturday night to behind-the-scenes people and actors nominated for guest-starring roles. The now 69-year-old performer won her statuette for Guest Actress in a Drama Series on Law & Order: SVU. Why they would not have category like this air on the main show is beyond me, but that’s another issue.

I mention Ann-Margret because in this day of Hollywood leading the charge against our military, making movies and television shows that regularly cast our troops as villains, it’s worth remembering that not all actors are, or have been, that way. Some have a genuine and deep appreciation for what our military does and a love for this country. Ann-Margret is one of those people.

While she has never been publicly politically active or worn her personal politics on her sleeve, we know where she stands when it comes to our veterans. While Jane Fonda was encouraging the enemy in North Vietnam, Ann-Margret regularly traveled with Bob Hope to the war theater to entertain our troops. Considering the left’s attitude even then about that war, not every one was rushing to join Hope’s team, but Ann-Margret was there and was one of his “regulars.”

While that was quite some time ago, her commitment and appreciation for our troops has been consistent. Probably the most illustrative story of her impact on our vets is already all over the net, but it’s worth bringing to you here. It’s the simple telling by the wife of a Vietnam vet who went with her husband to a book-signing so he could meet Ann-Margret. What happened changed his life. [...]

Read it, it's a great story. There's also more about Ann, and pics and video clips too.
     

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How to silence your critics: A tax on bloggers?

Yes. In Philadelpha, it's happening:

Philadelphia tax fever: Bloggers get hit
The Founding Fathers must be rolling in their graves. In Philadelphia, home of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, the city government has proposed smacking bloggers — our generation’s pamphleteers — with a $300 business tax. Yes, they are now requiring a license for Internet activists and hobbyists to exercise their free speech. [...]

Read the whole thing. They want to require blogs to have a business license, whether they make money or not, because blogs have the potential to make money, if they offer advertising.

Whatever happened to "free speech"? Remember free speech? The 1st Amendment? Is it soon to be nothing more than a relic of the past?


Also see:

Marxist Censorship Dreams, and the FCC

How much longer will our Republic last?
     

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Fannie and Freddie Question

In a previous post, I mentioned that Fannie and Freddie were costing taxpayers about $7 billion dollars per month. Is it time for them to go? A good case can be made for it:

Say Goodbye to Fannie and Freddie
[...] Fannie and Freddie had a license to print money. They could borrow at an interest rate only a bit over the Treasury rate and then accumulate large portfolios of mortgages and mortgage-backed securities earning the market rate. What a deal — borrow at the low rate, invest at a higher one, hold little capital and let the federal government bear the risk! Investors enjoyed high returns, and management enjoyed high salaries. Incidentally, politicians also got a steady flow of campaign contributions from the companies’ executives.

Fannie and Freddie’s risky policies led to their near collapse; in September 2008, the federal government brought them under federal conservatorship. Fannie and Freddie have cost taxpayers about $150 billion so far.

On Tuesday, the Obama administration plans to hold a conference to address the question of what to do with the two companies.
Clearly, it would be an inexcusable mistake to reconstitute them as private companies in anything close to their prior form. Some people have suggested recasting them as a single new “Fan-Fred agency” that would continue to securitize and guarantee home mortgages. It’s true that Fannie and Freddie played an important role in developing the market for mortgage-backed securities. But they have completed that work, and they should not be preserved in any form. They should be thanked for their successes and gracefully retired.

Can the home mortgage market stand on its own, without support from federally sponsored mortgage companies? Experience tells us that the answer is an unambiguous yes. [...]

Read the whole thing for the nitty gritty details. There are many reasons why they should not continue, but this administration has been supporting a lot of things that should have died a natural death. We shall have to wait until Tuesday to see what they will do. Since Fannie and Freddie are government creations, and Big Government is growing not shrinking, I'm not confident that they will be retired. If they are kept, the question will be: "At what cost?"
     

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Why the GOP needs to Get Christie Love

I don't mean the old '70's TV show. I'm referring to the fact that the GOP needs a campaign strategy, and they could start by loving what New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is doing, and using that as a role model. Peggy Noonan nails it here:

Try a Little Tenderness
Chris Christie, not the Tea Party, is the model for the Republicans.
[...] For those candidates who are themselves Tea Party, and who identify more with a rebellion than an organization, some advice: Get conservative, quick. Which is another way of saying: Get serious. Conservatives are not fringe and haven’t been accused of being fringe since they got themselves a president, in 1980. He cared about reality, about the facts of the world, and bothered to know them. He bothered to think about them. He respected process, or rather respected the reality of it and learned to master it.

He also tried to put his arms around those who disagreed with him; he loved his foes into submission by showing regard for them. “Come walk with me,” he said, in 1984. And they did. And they got a new name, Reagan Democrats. Some of them wear it proudly, still. Here’s something that sounds corny but is true: Only love makes great political movements. Movements based on resentment, anger and public rage always fade, they rise and fall, they never stay. If you came to play, get serious.

Members of the Tea Party are not going to vote Democratic, and the Democrats have figured this out. Someone noted on cable the other day that only months ago many Democrats still hoped they might benefit to some degree from the Tea Party’s populist spirit, and attempted a certain tentative sympathy. True, but they did it like anthropologists discovering a new tribe in Borneo: “Come. No hurt. Be friend.” Now, seeing the Tea Party is not gettable or co-optable, the Democrats are attempting to demonize them, and use them to demonize the GOP.

Thus the new DNC scare ad, which features the usual “Jaws”-like monster music, and then the charge that the Tea Party and the GOP are “one and the same.” Not only that, they’re cooking up a plan to “get rid of” or privatize Social Security and Medicare, repeal the 17th Amendment, and abolish the departments of energy and education and the EPA.

Your average viewer will see this not as information but as theater, like Demon Sheep, and of course propaganda, though some will perk up at abolishing the agencies. But the ad signals a central Democratic argument for the fall, which The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder summed up as “We may be incompetent, but they’re crazy.”

It’s a sign of Democratic panic that a week ago they were saying what was wrong with the GOP was they have no plan, while now what’s wrong is that they do have one.

The problem for the Democrats, however, is not a new Contract With America, or the Tea Party. Their problem is Chris Christie.

National Republicans don’t want to talk about specific cuts in spending for the obvious reason: The Obama administration is killing itself, and when your foe is self-destructing, you must not interrupt. Let the media go forward each day reporting the bad polls. Turn it into “Franco: still dead.” Don’t let the media turn it into a two-part story: “Obama is Struggling and The Republicans Will Cut Your Benefits.”

That is classic, smart political thinking, but wrong. The public thinks we’re sinking as a nation. They want to know someone has a plan to help. The most promising leader in that respect is Mr. Christie, the New Jersey governor, who just closed an $11 billion budget gap without raising taxes. He is famously blunt and doesn’t speak in those talking points that make you wonder, “Should I kill myself now with rude stabs to the chest, or should I just jump screaming from the window?”

On “Morning Joe” this week he said, “There were a lot of hard cuts and difficult things to do in there, but fact of the matter is we’re trying to treat people like adults. They know that we’re in awful shape, and they know that no one else is around anymore to pay for the problems that won’t hurt them.” [...]

Read the whole thing. It's not a rant against the tea party; far from it. It's about understanding politics, and letting the Tea Party be the supporting force that it is, to get common sense problem solvers like Chris Christie elected into office.

Rich Lowry also understands how important the "Christie" role model is:

Look Outside D.C. for Grown Up Government
[...] The sweep of Obama's ambition has necessarily forced congressional Republicans into a perpetual posture of "no," but they are reluctant to outline their own agenda of "yes." Out across the United States, a populist movement of great moment and promise wants to pull the country back to its constitutional moorings. Its favored candidates, though, are often shaky vessels, the likes of Rand Paul in Kentucky and Sharron Angle in Nevada, who are always one gaffe away from self-immolation.

For adults, look to the statehouses. Look in particular to New Jersey and Indiana, where Govs. Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels are forging a limited-government Republicanism that connects with people and solves problems. They are models of how to take inchoate dissatisfaction with the status quo, launder it through political talent, and apply it in a practical way to governance.

Christie has just concluded a six-month whirlwind through Trenton that should be studied by political scientists for years to come. In tackling a fiscal crisis in a state groaning under an $11 billion deficit, he did his fellow New Jerseyans the favor of being as forthright as a punch in the mouth. And it worked.

Christie traveled the state making the case for budgetary retrenchment, and he frontally took on the state's most powerful interest, the teachers' union. He rallied the public and split the Democrats, in a bravura performance in the lost art of persuasion. At the national level, George W. Bush thought repeating the same stalwart lines over and over again counted as making an argument, and Barack Obama has simply muscled through his agenda on inflated Democratic majorities. Christie actually connected.

He matched unyielding principle (determined to balance the budget without raising taxes, he vetoed a millionaires' tax within minutes of its passage) with a willingness to take half a loaf (he wanted a constitutional amendment to limit property taxes to 2.5 percent, but settled with Democrats for an imperfect statutory limit). He'll need an Act II to get deeper, institutional reforms, but New Jersey is now separating itself from those other notorious wastrels, California and Illinois. [...]

Read the whole thing. The article talks about Mitch Daniels, too. The more the merrier. It's going to take real adults who talk straight, talk the talk and walk the walk, not spend-thrifts with talking-points, who avoid town hall meetings and skirt around issues, to get us out of this mess. Christie, Daniels and those like them are showing us the way out. The GOP needs to be the party that supports the folks who are leading the way, who are DOING it.
     

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God vs Science: Nothing to do with Einstein, everything to do with an "Urban Legend"

My Dad has a Christian friend from his days in the Navy, whom he emails with. He forwards a lot of joke emails he gets, and some of the emails are from his Christian friend. This is one of those:

Subject: God vs Science

This has been around before, but worth reading again! Some of you may have not seen it a great arguement.


God vs. Science

'Let me explain the problem science has with religion.' The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.

'You're a Christian, aren't you, son?'

'Yes sir,' the student says.

'So you believe in God?'

'Absolutely. '

'Is God good?'

'Sure! God's good.'

'Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?'

'Yes'

'Are you good or evil?'

'The Bible says I'm evil.'

The professor grins knowingly. 'Aha! The Bible! He considers for a moment. 'Here's one for you. Let's say there's a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?'

'Yes sir, I would.'

'So you're good!'

'I wouldn't say that.'

'But why not say that? You'd help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn't.'

The student does not answer, so the professor continues. 'He doesn't, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Can you answer that one?'

The student remains silent. 'No, you can't, can you?', the professor says.

He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax. 'Let's start again, young fella. Is God good?'

'Er..yes,' the student says..

'Is Satan good?'

The student doesn't hesitate on this one. 'No.'

'Then where does Satan come from?'

The student falters. 'From God'

'That's right. God made Satan, didn't he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?'

'Yes, sir..'

'Evil's everywhere, isn't it? And God did make everything, correct?'

'Yes'

'So who created evil?' The professor continued, 'If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.'

Again, the student has no answer. 'Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?'

The student squirms on his feet. 'Yes.'

'So who created them?'

The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question.

'Who created them?' There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized. 'Tell me,' he continues onto another student. 'Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?'

The student's voice betrays him and cracks. 'Yes, professor, I do.'

The old man stops pacing. 'Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?'

'No sir. I've never seen Him.'

'Then tell us if you've ever heard your Jesus?'

'No, sir, I have not..'

'Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?'

'No, sir, I'm afraid I haven't.'

'Yet you still believe in him?'

'Yes'

'According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son?'

'Nothing,' the student replies.. 'I only have my faith.'

'Yes, faith,' the professor repeats. 'And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith.'

The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of His own. 'Professor, is there such thing as heat? '

Yes.

'And is there such a thing as cold?'

'Yes, son, there's cold too.'

'No sir, there isn't.'

The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain.' You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don't have anything called 'cold'.

We can get down to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees. Everybody or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat.

You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.'

Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.

'What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?'

'Yes,' the professor replies without hesitation. 'What is night if it isn't darkness?'

'You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it's called darkness, isn't it? That's the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, darkness isn't. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn't you?'

The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. 'So what point are you making, young man?'

'Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.'

The professor's face cannot hide his surprise this time. 'Flawed? Can you explain how?'

'You are working on the premise of duality,' the student explains. 'You argue that there is life and then there's death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can't even explain a thought.' 'It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one.

To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it.' 'Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?'

'If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do.'

'Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?'

The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.

'Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?'

The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided. 'To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean.' The student looks around the room. 'Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor's brain?' The class breaks out into laughter. 'Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor's brain, felt the professor's brain, touched or smelt the professor's brain? No one appears to have done so.

So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir.'

'So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?'

Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable. Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. 'I Guess you'll have to take them on faith.'

'Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,' the student continues. 'Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?' Now uncertain, the professor responds, 'Of course, there is. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.'

To this the student replied, 'Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.'

The professor sat down.

If you read it all the way through and had a smile on your face when you finished, mail to your friends and family with the title 'God vs. Science'

PS: the student was Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein wrote a book titled God vs. Science in 1921.


[END]

The whole thing seemed a bit "off" to me. Einstein was Jewish, and I never heard of him being a Christian, so I did some research. It turns out that Einstein never wrote a book called "God vs Science". He did not believe in a personal God, and was resentful of the stories being told by religious people, claiming that he did. This from Einstein's Wikipedia page sums it up:

Religious views

The question of scientific determinism gave rise to questions about Einstein's position on theological determinism, and whether or not he believed in God, or in a god. In 1929, Einstein told Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein "I believe in Spinoza's God, who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind."[94] In a 1954 letter, he wrote, "I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly."[95] In a letter to philosopher Erik Gutkind, Einstein remarked, "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."[96]

Repeated attempts by the press to present Albert Einstein as a religious man provoked the following statement:

It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.
—Albert Einstein[97]

Einstein had previously explored this belief, that man could not understand the nature of God, when he gave an interview to Time Magazine explaining:

I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.
—Albert Einstein[98]

I also read other sources on line about this, belittling Christians for "knowingly spreading this lie around the internet, to advance their religion".

That may be too harsh an accusation. I suspect many Christians pass this on because they believe it, and are ignorant of the facts. Ideally they ought to check the facts first before passing it on, but that can be said about many things that get passed around through email. In the end, the reader must verify.

I'm sure lots of Christians liked this story too because, it let's God off the hook where evil is concerned, and argues for the existence of faith. Yet I think it's ironic, too. The argument by the Christian against the atheist is that the atheist is working from a premise of duality. Yet isn't much of conventional Christian doctrine also based on the belief in duality? The argument against duality actually sounds like an argument in support of Eastern religion.

Snopes.com says that this email is actually a variation of an urban legend, where a Christian student puts an atheist professor in his place:

Snopes.com: Einstein and the "Evil is the absence of God" argument

Snopes gives all the details, and similar popular arguments that are often used to bolster religious faith in the face of atheistic arguments. And explains why Einstein got pulled into the story.

Here is another post by a blogger about this email story:

God vs Evil: A Philosophical Chain Email

In the comments below it, someone quotes some excerpts from a paper by Albert Einstein, called “Science and Religion.” While Einstein was not conventionally religious, he wasn't an atheist either. If you follow the link, there are some interesting quotes from the paper, as well as some other quotes by Einstein.

According to Snopes, Einstein, as a "generic genius", got incorporated into this Urban Legend. I suspect that his paper then got referred to as a book, the title got changed slightly, and claims were made about the content and the author's beliefs that don't hold up to scrutiny.

It's interesting to see how facts over time can get distorted. And it's great that a bit of searching on the internet can explain it all, uncover the history and connect the dots, and set the record straight again.

     

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Nearly ALL of our budget deficits come not from reduced tax revenues, but from spending increases

WHERE DO PEOPLE LIKE THIS COME FROM?
[...] One liberal writes that "the government actually ran a surplus during the Clinton administration's last few years, and it was former President George W. Bush's wars and tax cuts for the rich that turned our federal budget into the red." This is typical liberal thinking based more on an intense dislike of George Bush - possibly born of bitterness over the 2000 election - than on economic facts. The writer ignores the fact that tax revenues actually increased after the Bush tax cuts. Tax revenues were then and remain now above historical averages - even after the tax cuts. The Heritage Foundation has published studies showing that nearly ALL of our budget deficits come not from reduced tax revenues ... but from spending increases; both from George W. Bush and Barack Obama. It's the spending - not the tax cuts - that have brought us our immense debt. But you don't want to confuse this letter writer with those facts. [...]

But it's a fact that bears repeating. When the tax cuts are allowed to expire, what do you think will happen to tax revenue? We are about to see:

What happens when Tax Cuts Expire in 2011?

Those who don't learn from the mistakes of the past, are doomed to keep repeating them.
     

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South Africa: Everything old is new again?

Wasn't government censorship of the press one of the things that was WRONG with the Old South Africa? Isn't that what the ANC used to claim? Are they now saying censorship is OK, as long as they are the one's doing it?

SAfrica's ANC party wants tribunal for journalists
JOHANNESBURG – South Africa's governing party said Tuesday that the country needs a special tribunal to regulate the work of journalists, a proposal that has drawn sharp criticism from local and international media organizations.

The tribunal would be given powers to rule on media content and to impose unspecified penalties on journalists.

African National Congress spokesman Jackson Mthembu said the party has found numerous instances of news stories that were intentionally damaging to subjects' reputations and dignity.

"Your freedom does not supersede the other freedoms that are there," Jackson told journalists Tuesday. "We say there must be punishment when journalists mess up with reputations and dignity of members of the society."

South African journalists have launched a campaign to fight what they say is an attempt to curtail media freedoms in a nation known for one of Africa's freest and most open constitutions.

Other legislation under consideration would allow South Africa's government to classify a broad range of material that is currently not secret. Under the new law, it would be illegal to leak or to publish information deemed classified by the government, and the offense would be punishable by imprisonment.

On Tuesday, the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) said it will do what ever it can to stop the proposed "Protection of Information Bill" and media tribunal.

"We are not opposing the ANC government but the bill and tribunal," said Guy David, secretary general of SANEF.

When the old, white ruled government of South Africa censored the South African press, outrage was expressed worldwide, and boycotts and sanctions were imposed on the country.

Now, years later, we have a black ruled government, proposing similar or even worse censorship of the press. Where is the outrage, the world-wide indignation? Will we even hear a peep out of the international press about this?

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting.
     

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Sunday, August 08, 2010

A new variation on an old theme ...


Car Henge
My kids and I were returning home by way of a very random traverse in late summer of 1994, when we found this roadside attraction just outside Alliance, Nebraska, up in the sand hills on the way to Rapid City and Mt Rushmore. [...]

Follow the link for more photos and commentary.
     

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Government's Mill Stone for Our Necks

Don't let them tie it onto us:

ObamaCare: A Tangled Knot Around America's Throat
Bureaucratic Web: Those who wondered what was in the health care overhaul bill now have a chance to look inside. What they see is a snarl of lines, arrows and geometric shapes that will do nothing to improve medical care.

Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, GOP Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas and the minority staff of the Joint Economic Committee have provided a priceless public service by creating a flow chart (below) of the federal health care system that is being created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.


The chart displays, in words we can't improve, "a bewildering array of new government agencies, regulations and mandates."

At the center of the new federal health care universe is the secretary of Health and Human Services, who has been granted supernational powers. Radiating from that hub are the lesser celestial objects, such as Congress in the upper right corner, the president in the upper left, and doctors in the lower left.

Patients can be found near the bottom right corner. Remember them? They were supposed to be what the health care overhaul was all about. But they've been nudged, as almost an afterthought, to the fringe of this expanding universe.

Between patients and the secretary of Health and Human Services sit galaxies of red tape, taxes, regulations, federal programs, state agencies, mandates — and thousands of bureaucrats.

But the HHS secretary does not treat patients. Doctors do. And the expanse between them, according to this chart, is vast. They are separated by a government that is growing deeper, wider and more labyrinthine, an administrative state that will ration, dilute and ineffectively manage health care. [...]

Read the rest; it's even worse than the chart!

Remember in November, so we can REPEAL and REPLACE this garbage.


Also see:

Why Obamacare is a "healthcare bridge to nowhere" that can't be "tweaked"     

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From California's Stark Raving Mad Pete Stark

Has power gone to his head? Sounds like it:

No, Congressman, government does have limits
When Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., was told during a July 24 town hall meeting with constituents that he and public officials like him were "destroying this nation," he smirkingly replied, "And I guess you're here to save it. And that makes me very uncomfortable." This derision of a constituent was particularly poignant, considering that the questioner had only asked what limits would remain on the federal government if Congress could get away with passing a bill as destructive of individual rights as Obamacare. Stark responded that "I think that there are very few constitutional limits that would prevent the federal government from rules that could affect your private life." He was roundly booed, but then given another opportunity to respond. He observed that "the federal government, yes, can do most anything in this country."

Unfortunately, Stark's extreme views are common among the current congressional majority. Still, we have no doubt that those who wrote the Constitution would be astounded to hear such monarchical attitudes today since they were exactly what the American Revolution was fought to overcome.

Sadly, it probably comes as no surprise to most Americans that Washington politicians like Stark hold such a self-serving view of the Constitution. It's still shocking to hear it put in such stark terms. But Americans have been hearing this theme from their leaders throughout the current economic crisis: Those in power are mainstream agents of change, whereas those who, like Tea Partiers, protest bailouts, deficits, tax hikes and exploding national debt are disreputable radicals and even racists. This is the incumbent- protection narrative that seeks to discredit the middle-American rebellion sparked in 2009 when President Obama proposed an $862 billion economic stimulus program that most knew would mostly line the pockets of his political allies. [...]

Read the rest of it. It's time to vote these jerks out in November, while we still have a vote.


Also see:

American politics has caught the British disease

Pampered Populists

THE RULING CLASS
     

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One woman's decision to buy a handgun


A reluctant gun owner
I had never wanted a gun. Now I own a Smith & Wesson revolver. Why?

[...]

Home invasion robberies no longer seemed quite so abstract after a friend down the street was burglarized one day at noon, while she was in the shower.

[...]

Having accepted the reality of a gun in the house, I began to envision dark scenarios. A potential intruder, once an abstraction, became a real force to be vanquished. My husband and I began discussing strategies, defensive positions, reaction times, risks we would have to take. To every new defense, I realized, there is a corresponding new risk.

As we talked, one thing became obvious: I would never be able to defend myself if my husband wasn't home. I'm too small and the shotgun he purchased is too large, too heavy, too awkward.

"We should have a pistol," I finally declared. "Something I can use."

Still, I wrestled with the idea of whether I could become someone else, someone capable of violence. Was I really prepared to kill someone who threatened my property or my life?

Reluctantly, sorrowfully, I found my answer.

And that is how I came to be standing at the counter last week in the gun shop, talking to the salesman, Walt. "I want a revolver," I explained. I had tested several handguns at the range a few days earlier and had realized that semiautomatic pistols are activated by slides that are impossible for me to pull back. The spring is too strong. The only alternative was a revolver, which needs to be cocked and aimed — after loading, of course. The revolver holds six bullets while the semiautomatic pistol uses a clip with nine or 10 bullets. "Six should be enough to stop anyone," I was told.

I had already proved, at the range, that I could pull back the trigger and hit a target. I knew how to assume the proper stance. So when Walt handed me a Ruger, I pointed it at the wall to see how it felt.

Walt, a patient man with gray hair and bifocals, watched as I tried various revolvers before finally settling on a Smith & Wesson, which has a smaller grip than the Ruger and is more in sync with the size of my hand.

It was only when I'd made my decision that I looked around at my fellow customers. I had imagined they would be skinheads or slick-haired, oily types who would poke at each other in amusement at my questions, my stance, my purchase.

Instead, there was a clean-cut fellow wearing shorts and a Polo T-shirt. Several older guys were talking about deer and moose and elk. Everyone spoke softly. They were intent on business. Yes, one man did have a tattoo. But there was also a very nice-looking girl in her 20s, wearing one of those long black summer dresses with the little straps, looking quite glamorous. I saw her examining a Beretta. Obviously, her hands are stronger than mine, I thought, watching her pull back the slide. I resolved to exercise my hands — 20 minutes at the piano playing scales and Bach fugues every morning.

HT to Barry at BAR for the excerpts. But read the whole thing, at the link below:

Sonia Wolff (a novelist who lives in LA)

It's reminded me that I've been wanting to buy a revolver. I think I'll do it sooner rather than later.


Also see:

The Second Amendment vs Leviathan

     

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Why is D.C. broken? Could it be, because of the ambitions of America's "Ruling" class?

From Neal Boortz:

THE RULING CLASS
Barack Obama's chief dogwasher Valerie Jarrett said that Barack Obama would be ready to "rule" by day one. At the time, one would hope that this was a slip-of-the-tongue. Turns out that it wasn't. This should have been a huge red flag, a warning sign that we were about to anoint a ruling class in Washington, rather than elected representative officials. We should have known then that Jarrett was serving a ruler, not a leader. These people would have little concept of what it is like to function in the private sector and an inherent disdain for free enterprise. Their love of government and ultimately their role within that government would be the driving force behind every decision and every policy. It is purely based on survival - these rulers know that their success is based on their ability to manipulate the government educated into believing that they need them in order to survive. Angelo Codevilla of the American Spectator can pick up where I've left off ...
Today's ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters -- speaking the "in" language -- serves as a badge of identity. Regardless of what business or profession they are in, their road up included government channels and government money because, as government has grown, its boundary with the rest of American life has become indistinct. Many began their careers in government and leveraged their way into the private sector. Some, e.g., Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, never held a non-government job. Hence whether formally in government, out of it, or halfway, America's ruling class speaks the language and has the tastes, habits, and tools of bureaucrats. It rules uneasily over the majority of Americans not oriented to government.

You could argue - I think accurately -- that the Tea Party movement is a visceral reaction to this elitism, this ruling class. These politicians currently in Washington are synonymous with "big government" because they lived, eaten and breathed nothing but government since they were begat. They believe that we exist for the purpose of serving out government. Actually ... I think that I found the perfect way to describe these people, and their ruler, several years ago: They believe that America's greatness is centered on Washington DC and flows from government, not from the dynamic of a free people working and cooperating together in a system based on freedom, economic liberty and the rule of law.



Also see:

The clash between the ruling class and the "country class"
     

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Solar storm not very dramatic

Most people in the USA won't get to see the aurora, either:

Where the best seats will be for northern lights after solar eruption
[...] The southernmost points in the United States where some form of northern lights may appear lie along the US-Canadian border – from northwestern Montana through northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula to the northern tip of Maine.

In the parlance of space-weather forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo., this is likely to be a G-1 (out of 5) solar storm – instead of a gee-whiz event for anyone south of Bemidji, Minn.

While that may be discouraging news for the aurora-starved, for commercial satellite owners and people who have to run electric transmission grids it's relatively good news. Geomagnetic storms can wreak havoc with electrically sensitive segments of today's high-tech infrastructure.

"There may be some temporary communications blackouts in the polar regions. If you're a GPS user needing centimeter accuracy, you'll feel this. If you're measuring currents on the power grid, you'll definitely see some changes in them. But only those intimately familiar with space weather are going to notice any effects," says Douglas Biesecker, a physicist at the Space Weather Prediction Center.

[...]

Several factors determine how intense a geomagnetic storm will be once a CME arrives, researchers say. They include the plasma's speed, its density (on average, perhaps one charged particle for every 0.06 cubic inches), whether Earth takes a direct hit from the densest region of the plasma, and the orientation of the plasma's magnetic field.

This ejection certainly had the speed at launch, Dr. Biesecker notes. Scientists clocked it at a hair less than 2.7 million miles an hour. So far, however, the plasma's speed near Earth has slowed to a more sedate 1.3 million miles an hour.

NOAA is testing a new space-weather forecast model that indicated Earth wouldn't take a direct hit from the densest part of the cloud, but instead would find itself enveloped roughly halfway between the densest region and the cloud's edge as the plasma sped past.

That may help account for the low ranking forecasters are giving this encounter.

Magnetic fields also matter.

Earth's field is not uniform around the planet, but somewhat flattened on the sunward half and stretched into a cometlike tail on the night half. As the plasma strikes Earth's magnetic field, it squashes and stretches Earth's field more than usual.

If the plasma's magnetic field is oriented in a way that offers the same average polarity to Earth as the planet's own field, it's like an express train passing a local station: The plasma's field races past Earth's magnetotail with little effect on the locals.

But if the polarities are opposite and attract, the plasma's field couples to the magnetotail and stretches it until it can stretch no farther. It snaps back toward Earth. The energy released in that snap accelerates charged particles already in the magnetotail, hurtling them on their collision course with Earth's upper atmosphere at the poles, where Earth's fields originate.

The more energy a snap releases, the stronger the storm and the lower the latitudes at which people can see auroral displays.

However, with today's orbiting sensors, the orientation of the plasma's field becomes clear only after it's passed and scientists have had a chance to study the data. [...]

The article has a video clip too. The storm is a class C, which is not very significant for us to worry about. A class M would be more serious, and a class X would be very serious.


Also see:

Our growing reliance on satellite technology, and it's vulnerability to solar flares. Why it matters.     

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Monday, August 02, 2010

Hedge Funds, Democrats & the Financial Crisis

While posting about the Chelsea Clinton Wedding, I came across some links about Clinton/Democrat corruption, and our current financial crisis. Here are some of the more interesting bits:

Bridegroom's Father is Ex-Congressman & Convicted Felon
[...] It Runs in the Family

Edward Mezvinsky was convicted of fraud for shady business deals that had prosecutors calling him a "one-man crime wave." Prosecutors claimed that in 20 years of doing business between 1980 and 2000, every single deal he consummated displayed aspects of fraud. After his indictment in 2001, he pleaded guilty to 31charges of bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud. He tried to raise a defense of diminished capacity due to his suffering from bipolar disorder, but the judge disallowed it.

His rip-off of almost $10 million got him seven years in the hoosegow. Ed Mezvinsky got out of the federal lock-up in 2008. By then, his son Marc was dating Chelsea Clinton. Both children of politicos attended Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, where they studied finance. They became friends at Stanford, and the friendship ripened into a romance sometime around 2007.

Post-Palo Alto, while Marc decided to enter the more venerable profession of investment banking, Chelsea opted to join a hedge funds. She eventually got a job with the Avenue Capital Group, big campaign donors for both her parents.

Hedge funds as they are now constituted were illegal from 1933 to 2000, as their type of activity was outlawed as it was considered as destabilizing speculation that helped cause the Great Depression. In the year 2000, her papa bear Bill Clinton turned his back on 67 years of proven financial regulation and signed a bill legitimating speculation. Mama bear Hillary was running for the U.S. Senate in the State of New York, Moloch's Big Town, and needed the big bucks from the free-booting financiers.

Baby bear Chelsea is doing very nicely as one of the parasitical class that has turned the United States into an economic and financial casino. A "casino" economy and stock market is a state of affairs which economists considered to be the antithesis of a well-managed economy well into the 1990s, when the hustlers took over and began to brazenly rule the roost. [...]

Of course, you aren't hearing any of this from the MSM, as they gush, and gush, and GUSH over the $3,000,000 dollar Clinton wedding. After all, as they keep telling us, the Clintons are political ROYALTY. And isn't that what America's all about? Worshiping Royalty?

Unfortunately, the corruption continues. Lest you think this is all in the past, it's tentacles most definitely reach into the present:

The Soul of the Democratic Party Sold
[...] Hedge funds have been major financial backers of Democratic candidates ever since Bill Clinton made like Abe Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, and set them free. Chelsea's mother Hillary received mucho hedge fund loot during her 2008 bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Hedge fund managers hedge their bets, and they also heavily backed Barack Obama, who rewarded them with a watered down "financial reform" bill that left hedge funds unmolested and hedge fund mangers' incomes taxed at the lower capital gains tax rate.

Former Goldman Sachs trading desk honcho Rahm Emmanul is President Obama's chief of staff, whilst his recent Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, worked as a paid "adviser" to the financial power house. Goldman Sachs is what J.P. Morgan and the House of Morgan and Paul Mellon and the Mellon Bank were to Republican Administrations in previous years, the marionette master who pulls the strings.

As predicted by naysayers, within seven years of Clinton legitimating financial speculation, hedge funds and other speculative financial schemes helped bring the U.S. economy back on its knees in the worse political catastrophe since the Great Depression.

Since it was Bill Clinton's "centrist" Democratic Leadership Council that sold the soul of the Democratic Party to Wall Street, it is fitting that Chelsea Clinton should be marrying the son of a convicted felon who works for the titan of Wall Street, a firm that engages in legal robbery. It recently got off easy from double dealing in the subprime mortgage market with a half-billion-dollar fine. [...]

Remember when the Goldman-Sachs executives were hauled before Congress to testify? It was just a dog-and-pony show for the cameras. Sachs went along with it, and in return were basically getting a bail-out.

Bill Clinton's administration occurred during one of the most prosperous times in American history, but he had little to do with it. He was riding the coattails of prosperity set into motion by previous Republican Administrations. Clinton's spending was held in check by a Republican dominated Congress, so Clinton didn't over-spend. Where the Republican's failed, was in going along with Clinton's "Centrist" financial reforms and his expansion of the Community Reinvestment Act in 1997, which was then used by "activists" and "community organizers" (like Obama?) to coerce lending institutions to make millions of bad loans.

When there were signs that the melt-down was coming, some Republicans tried to make corrective reforms, but they were blocked by Democrats. Thus, the inevitable happened.

Now, what can we do about it? Remember in November.


Also see:

The roots of the financial crisis
     

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Sunday, August 01, 2010

Chelsea Clinton's "interfaith" marriage

From a Rabbi's blog, earlier this month:

Why Chelsea Clinton's Wedding Matters & the Celebrity Double-Standard
I'm hesitant to write about Chelsea Clinton's upcoming wedding to Marc Mezvinsky, who was raised in Conservative Judaism, because I want to respect the private lives of the bride and groom. However, when the bride is the daughter of the 40th President of the United States, I suppose she is classified as a celebrity and her wedding is fair game as a topic for discussion.




This marriage will spark conversation in the Jewish world about two main issues: How intermarriage affects the Jewish community; and, whether there is a double-standard in the Jewish community when it comes to the intermarrying ways of celebrities.

[...]

Some interesting questions surrounding the Chelsea Clinton wedding should make this even more interesting:

* The wedding will take place on Shabbat (July 31, 2010), so how will this affect whether observant Jewish (shomer Shabbat) guests will attend. Even if they stay within walking distance of the Astor mansion, according to Jewish law weddings are not to take place on the Jewish Sabbath.

* If Chelsea does convert before the wedding, will her conversion be disputed publicly by the Orthodox who will claim that a Conservative (or Reform) conversion isn't "kosher." And, many will question her commitment to Judaism -- didn't she do this only for the sake of marriage and how much preparation and deliberation did she put into this?

* If Chelsea doesn't convert, how many of the Bill and Hillary's Orthodox friends will attend the wedding anyway? Will their attendance at an interfaith wedding (and on Shabbat to boot) signify an endorsement? And what about Conservative rabbis who are technically not supposed to attend interfaith weddings? Will some make an exception for such notable nuptials?

* Finally, might this high-profile interfaith wedding turn the tides and lead to greater acceptance and sensitivity toward interfaith marriage? After all, as Gibson writes, "The main body of Conservative Judaism [CJLS] voted to allow interfaith families to be buried in Jewish cemeteries, and in March, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America hosted a two-day workshop "sensitizing" students to "issues of intermarriage and changing demographics." There is even talk of allowing Conservative rabbis to attend the interfaith weddings of friends -- and this just four years after the movement adopted an official policy emphasizing the importance of converting a non-Jewish spouse. [...]

I would question, just how much of a religious conservative the groom is, because of the things mentioned above. He doesn't seem very "observant" of some things. Just because he may have been raised to be strictly observant, doesn't mean he chooses to continue to be, especially if he's going to marry a shiksa. Or are some observances being overlooked due to the "celebrity" factor? Anyway, time will tell what's up with them. I won't be losing any sleep over it, and they don't look worried about it either:




Now that the wedding has happened, here are some more details on the interfaith aspects of the wedding from Rabbi Miller's blog.


Also see:

Who is Marc Mezvinsky? Chelsea Clinton's Husband is Invesment Banker at Hedge Fund

Bridegroom's Father is Ex-Congressman & Convicted Felon
     

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Sunday Funnies: Obama/Pelosi jokes

I got this in my email:

Late Night Guys Have Obama Figured Out!


The liberals are asking us to give Obama time.

We agree and think 25 to life would be appropriate.

America needs Obama-care like Nancy Pelosi needs a Halloween mask.

--- Jay Leno


Q: Have you heard about McDonald's' new Obama Value Meal?
A: Order anything you like and the guy behind you has to pay for it.

--- Conan O'Brien


Q: What does Barack Obama call lunch with a convicted felon?
A: A fund raiser.

--- Jay Leno


Q: What's the difference between Obama's cabinet and a penitentiary?
A: One is filled with tax evaders, blackmailers and threats to society.
The other is for housing prisoners.

--- David Letterman


Q: If Nancy Pelosi and Obama were on a boat in the middle of the ocean and it started to sink, who would be saved?
A: America!

--- Jimmy Fallon


Q: What's the difference between Obama and his dog, Bo?
A: Bo has papers.

--- Jimmy Kimmel


Q: What was the most positive result of the "Cash for clunkers" program?
A: It took 95% of the Obama bumper stickers off the road.

--- David Letterman


Smile, it adds face value!

     

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