Reliably wrong

Sam Harris had barely published his Letter to a Christian Nation when he was bitchslapped by science on stem cells. Now one of Christopher Hitchens’s favorite, if totally irrelevant, anti-God arguments goes down in flames. You’d think the self-anointed defenders of science would bother to learn a little more about that which they’re supposedly defending:

Public health officials are considering promoting routine circumcision for all baby boys born in the United States to reduce the spread of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS…. Recently, studies showed that in African countries hit hard by AIDS, men who were circumcised reduced their infection risk by half. But the clinical trials in Africa focused on heterosexual men who are at risk of getting H.I.V. from infected female partners.

A few people have asked me if I plan to write a follow-up to The Irrational Atheist. I see no reason to, however, since the New Atheists have been sufficiently discredited to the point that by the end of this year, there should be more anti-New Atheism books written by atheists than there are atheism-related books written by the four so-called New Atheists. The thought of writing a critique of Richard Dawkins’s forthcoming book on evolution has crossed my mind, but if the text is as bad as the title, there won’t be much point. Dawkins has pretty clearly lost his fastball, so I’d be surprised if it was more Selfish Gene than God Delusion in terms of quality.


WND column

The FDIC is broke

The two hallmarks of the Great Depression were unemployment and bank failures. While the same economists who denied there was a recession for the first nine months of the economic contraction are now insisting that it is over and the recovery has begun, I am extremely dubious. Since the crisis became apparent, I believed that 2009 would be the equivalent of 1930, that being the year that everyone expected recovery to be waiting around the corner. But while there are some statistical green shoots, there are also numerous signs that the perceived recovery is illusory, and in fact, the economic situation is more dire now than it was 79 years ago.

There wasn’t space for this additional chart, which shows the difference between the FDIC-reported estimated losses and the actual reductions in the Deposit Insurance Fund in 2008. Note that the reductions shown in the 2009 chart in the column are my projections, while this 2008 chart shows the historical data from the previous FDIC Quarterly reports. We can test the accuracy of those projections soon, as if I’m correct, the next Quarterly will either show a balance of around -$4,407 million or incorporate money borrowed from its $100 billion credit line with the U.S. Treasury.


The cunning trap

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Sunday shows that 27% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-one percent (41%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -14. These figures mark the lowest Approval Index rating yet recorded for this President.

Clearly those wingnutty birthers don’t realize how their foolish obsession with Obama’s birth certificate is just playing into his hands and making him even more popular with moderates and independents. I haven’t seen strategic thinking this masterful since the Maestro ignored Edward Gramlich’s recommendation to audit consumer finance companies because he was afraid it might reduce the availability of subprime credit.


As expected

I’m sure every student of military history is shocked that the Afghans have been playing the same sort of waiting game they used to defeat the Soviet Union over the period of a decade. They’re going to win because they’re willing to wait out the USA, so the sooner the American political class accepts this and withdraws US troops, the better. This is a war of absolutely zero benefit to the national interest and Americans of both Left and Right are rapidly accepting that fact.

The U.S. military’s top uniformed officer expressed concern Sunday about eroding public support for the war in Afghanistan and said the country remains vulnerable to being taken over again by extremist forces…. Three years ago, the U.S. had about 20,000 forces in the country. Today, it has triple that, on the way to 68,000 by year’s end when all the extra 17,000 troops that Obama announced in March are to be in place. An additional 4,000 troops are arriving to help train Afghan forces.

It should be interesting to hear all the excuse-making when the serious shooting starts in Iraq again. Failing to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq after the initial victories were accomplished was a huge mistake and more than a little damaging to the US military.


VPFL

Okay, who is in this year? Those who haven’t participated before will take precedence over past players. Remember, it’s a keeper league, so you’ll inherit up to three players from last season if you want to keep them. The draft will be Sun Aug 30 3:30pm Central. And, just because it’s that time of year again, a tribute to the one of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks:


If Obamacare works like Medicaid

That nine trillion deficit could become nineteen in a hurry:

New York State’s Medicaid program has also become a $44.5 billion target for the unscrupulous and the opportunistic. It has drawn dentists like Dr. Dolly Rosen, who within 12 months somehow built the state’s biggest Medicaid dental practice out of a Brooklyn storefront, where she claimed to have performed as many as 991 procedures a day in 2003…. School officials around the state have enrolled tens of thousands of low-income students in speech therapy without the required evaluation, garnering more than $1 billion in questionable Medicaid payments for their districts. One Buffalo school official sent 4,434 students into speech therapy in a single day without talking to them or reviewing their records, according to federal investigators.

This sort of thing always happens whenever the government gets involved with paying for goods and services. The only thing that’s remarkable is the way you can always find idiots who will argue, with a straight face, that this time it will be different.

Considering that the Obama administration has been shown to be completely wrong about the unemployment rate and wrong about the deficit, why would anyone still believe they are capable of running this ship, let alone righting it.



The wolves enter

The ELCA joins the Episcopalian church suicide pact:

After an emotional debate over the authority of Scripture and the limits of biblical inclusiveness, leaders of the country’s largest Lutheran denomination voted Friday to allow gay men and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as members of the clergy.

Having grown up in Minnesota, I know a lot of Lutherans. And I don’t think too many of them are going to continue to attend an ELCA-affiliated church now that actively practicing homosexuals are not only welcomed within the church, but to serve as church leaders. It’s now apparent that this sort of step became inevitable once Protestant churches began accepting divorcees and women in the pulpit. I wonder how long it will take before murderers, pedophiles, and open atheists are permitted as well?


Bravery long after the fact

I would have respected Tarantino more had he made a film about real Jews who desperately fought to defend themselves against the Nazis, such as the Polish Jews in the Warsaw ghetto who were memorialized in Leon Uris’s Mila 18, rather than a film about murderous imaginary ones:

In the genre-blurring tale, Pitt plays Lieutenant Aldo Raine who heads the squad of Jewish-American soldiers behind enemy lines in German-occupied wartime France. Aldo tells his men to bring him the scalps of 100 Nazis each, and vows to terrorise the German army with the “disembowelled, dismembered and disfigured bodies we leave behind us.”

His new movie is nothing more than revenge porn for Hollywood Jews and it’s only going to underline whatever feelings of psychological inadequacy they have for the general failure of European Jewry to defend itself during the 1940s. It also serves to underline the idea that a Jewish-American is not a true American, for what American soldier behaved like the bestial Jews of the movie even in the less-civilized battles of the Pacific theatre? There has been no shortage of actual Jewish heroism during the Arab-Israeli Wars, so pretending that nonexistent Jews murdered nonexistent Nazis 65 years ago isn’t going to make up for the fact that with a few noble exceptions, they died like sheep, not wolves. As it stands, this “Jewish revenge fantasy” is only going to feed into global anti-semitism, particularly in the Middle East. I have no doubt that we’ll soon be hearing Gaza and the West Bank being portrayed as similar “Jewish revenge”.

Worst of all, the movie is a horrific insult to the American military, which did not behave like the Red Army or the Japanese Imperial Army in victory. Incidentally, it’s also a historically illiterate insult to the German army, which banned membership in the Nazi party and was not one of the organizations tasked with killing Jews. (The German armed forces’ ban on party membership was one reason why Hitler set up the 38-division Nazi Party army known as the Waffen SS.) I despise Hollywood’s predilection for historical revisionism in general, but this movie is an unusually outrageous insult to the Americans who fought in Europe. Even on the very rare occasions when they lost military discipline, such as when the 3rd Battalion of the 157th Infantry Regiment entered Dachau and murdered 480 captured Waffen SS troops, most of them wounded combat soldiers, under the erroneous assumption that they were Totenkopfverbände-SS concentration camp guards, they merely lined them up and shot them. They did not commit brutal atrocities, much less indiscriminately murder and mutilate German women and children like Tarantino’s Jewish “heroes”.


PUOSU #2: Calvinism

Markku and wrf present the detailed and nicely formatted “Christian’s Guide to the Absolute Truth of Calvinism“. As before, this presentation reflects the authors’ beliefs, not mine. Below is merely a sample; for the entire 15-page PDF, click on the link above.

I do not ascribe any particular authority to Jean Calvin, and I would be quite comfortable in rejecting any other doctrines apart from these five that he might hold. Especially the ones about the utility of the state in persecuting those who disagree with you. It is purely incidental that he was the first person to identify these five dogmas as a particular doctrine. Calvin certainly was not the first one in history to state some of the dogmas. Ignatius, in the first century, wrote:

Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which is at Ephesus, in Asia, deservedly most happy, being blessed in the greatness and fulness of God the Father, and predestined before the beginning of time, that it should be always for an enduring and unchangeable glory, being united and elected through the true passion by the will of the Father, and Jesus Christ, our God: Abundant happiness through Jesus Christ, and His undefiled grace.

Likewise, Ireaneus wrote in the second century:

But He Himself in Himself, after a fashion which we can neither describe nor conceive, predestinating all things, formed them as He pleased, bestowing harmony on all things, and assigning them their own place, and the beginning of their creation.

Emphasis is mine in both quotes. The latter quote goes further than I would, but I mean it to demonstrate that even full predestination is a very old doctrine. I will argue based on the assumption that all statements in the Bible, interpreted the way the author intended, are true. If this is not your view, then this essay is not intended to be applicable for you. Except possibly as a response to the question, if what the Bible says were true, then how should it be interpreted with regards to salvation. If the plain reading of a passage, taken in its context (including other relevant passages elsewhere in the Bible), feels uncomfortable, then that is not adequate grounds to reject the plain reading. It must be rejected on Biblical grounds. Merely the fact that God is loving, is not good enough. It would beg the question, what love should look like in those circumstances. The disciples had hard time accepting some of the things Jesus said, so why shouldn’t we?

This should make for a nice prelude to the upcoming Omniderigent vs Aprevistan debate between The Responsible Puppet and me, although the final conclusion leaves no doubt whose side the authors are supporting:

“I simply cannot see Arminianism as anything but an effort to deny the plain meaning of Scriptures because one does not like it.”