Archive for August, 2011

Poverty in America

August 20, 2011

According to the Census Bureau, approximately 14.3% of the people in the United States were living in  poverty in 2009. This amounts to 43.6 million people. This does not sound good, and it isn’t, and yet the truth is than poverty isn’t what it used to be.

When I think of poverty, I imagine people who go without food on a regular basis. People who wear rags and go about barefoot. It would seem that there is very little of that sort of poverty in America, The trick is, how to define “poverty”. According to the Wikipedia article linked above, poverty in the United States is measured in more than one way.

The most common measure of poverty in the United States is the “poverty threshold” set by the U.S. government. This measure recognizes poverty as a lack of those goods and services commonly taken for granted by members of mainstream society.[5] The official threshold is adjusted for inflation using the consumer price index.

Relative poverty describes how income relates to the median income, and does not imply that the person is lacking anything. In general the United States has some of the highest relative poverty rates among industrialized countries, reflecting both the high median income and high degree of inequality

Note that either way, poverty is a relative measurement. Someone considered poor in America could easily be considered fabulously wealthy by the standards of Africa. Poverty in the United States then is not a matter of living on the edge of starvation, but of not having as much stuff as many others.

Which brings me to this article by John C Goodman at Townhall.com, in which he asks “are the poor really poor?” Consider these facts:

• The average household defined as poor lived in a house or apartment equipped with air conditioning and cable TV.• The family had a car (a third of the poor have two or more cars).

• For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, a DVD player and a VCR.

• If there were children in the home (especially boys), the family had a game system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation.

• In the kitchen, the household had a microwave, refrigerator, and an oven and stove.

• Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone and a coffeemaker.

The home of the average poor family was in good repair and not overcrowded. In fact, the typical poor American had more living space than the average (non-poor) European, the Heritage scholars note. The poor family was able to obtain medical care when needed. When asked, most poor families stated they had had sufficient funds during the past year to meet all essential needs.

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Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century

August 20, 2011

In the last century, science has made great strides in understanding the world. For the first time in human history, scientists seem to have uncovered the basic laws that the universe runs on. There are however many mysteries not yet understood by science and perhaps they never will be. These include; how salmon can return to the stream they were spawned in, what lies in the middle of a black hole, and how can seemingly intelligent and progressive people be duped into supporting the most evil regimes in history.

 

Paul Kengor does not attempt to answer that question in his book Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.

Instead, he reveals the history of those dupes who often unwittingly contributed to the Communists efforts against their own country, and often against their stated ideals. We see the strange story of men and women who have fought tirelessly for civil rights in the U. S. justify the most horrendous human rights abuses done in the Soviet Union and other Communist countries.

 

Kengor is no mere red-baiter. He carefully distinguishes between actual members of the Communist Party of the USA, sympathizers who never actually joined the party, and well meaning dupes who helped the Communists without realizing it. His facts are backed up with careful research, including from the Soviet Communist archives, which were briefly opened for study after the fall of the Soviet Union.

 

 

Some of the dupes came to realize they had been fooled and tried to repair the damaged they had caused. John Dewey wrote a glowing book on the educational progress made in Russia after the Revolution, only to turn against Communism when he saw that he had been lied to during his visit to the Soviet Union.  William C Bullitt was a radical who learned the truth while ambassador the Soviet Union and tried to warn President Roosevelt, who was a dupe, that “Uncle Joe” Stalin simply could not be trusted under any circumstance.  Another dupe was a young actor named Ronald Reagan who joined a front organization. His experience with Communist deceit eventually served him well as president.

 

Unfortunately, all too many dupes never realized that the Communists were using them in the most cynical fashion.

 

One might think that this history might be interesting but irrelevant to the present day. After all, Russia is no longer Communist, and although a Communist Party rules in China, they do not seem to be following the teachings of Marx any more. However, as Kengor points out, too many of these dupes remain dupes and continue to give aid to America’s enemies, providing excuses support for Islamic radicals.

 

Also, there is a certain politician who has connections with left-wing radicals like William Ayers and Hawaii Communist Frank Marshall Davis, who just happens to be president. Is Barak Obama a radical, a sympathizer, a dupe? Who knows, but it is certain that many dupes and worse think of him as one of their own.

 

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of the Cold War, and especially to liberals.  If there is any lesson the liberal or progressive needs to learn from Dupes, it is that the Communists were never the progressives’ friends, only their useful idiots.

Alien Invasion

August 19, 2011
Paul Krugman, Laureate of the Sveriges Riksban...

He warned us.

Recently, Nobel Prize winning and left-wing loon Paul Krugman suggested that an invasion by aliens would jump start the economy.

In an interview with CNN, Krugman cited “a Twilight Zone episode in which scientists fake an alien threat in order to achieve world peace. Well, this time… we’d need it in order to get some fiscal stimulus.” According to Krugman’s tossed-off theory, we’d need a massive buildup to counter the apparently looming invasion. “[If] inflation and budget deficits took secondary place to that, this slump would be over in 18 months.”

And now we have this

Bad news from NASA: If we don’t reduce carbon emissions, the aliens might come and kill us

It may not rank as the most compelling reason to curb greenhouse gases, but reducing our emissions might just save humanity from a pre-emptive alien attack, scientists claim…

The authors warn that extraterrestrials may be wary of civilisations that expand very rapidly, as these may be prone to destroy other life as they grow, just as humans have pushed species to extinction on Earth. In the most extreme scenario, aliens might choose to destroy humanity to protect other civilisations.

“A preemptive strike would be particularly likely in the early phases of our expansion because a civilisation may become increasingly difficult to destroy as it continues to expand. Humanity may just now be entering the period in which its rapid civilisational expansion could be detected by an ETI because our expansion is changing the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere, via greenhouse gas emissions,” the report states.

“Green” aliens might object to the environmental damage humans have caused on Earth and wipe us out to save the planet. “These scenarios give us reason to limit our growth and reduce our impact on global ecosystems. It would be particularly important for us to limit our emissions of greenhouse gases, since atmospheric composition can be observed from other planets,” the authors write.

Is there maybe something the government is not telling us? Should I start checking the basement for pods or building some kind of shelter against heat rays or something?

Thanks to Hot Air and Allahpundit.

 

 

 

 

President Obama’s Latest Vacation

August 19, 2011

The president left for his vacation at Martha’s Vineyard yesterday. I really don’t begrudge the man a vacation especially since presidents don’t really get vacations. Even when they are at Martha’s Vineyard, Camp David, or at the ranch, they are still the President and are still on the job. I have to wonder though, whether anyone in his staff has considered the optics of a vacation at a place famous as a getaway for the rich and famous, especially with a President who rails at “fat cats” and their corporate jets. Does anyone realize how it looks to be vacationing there when the economy is in a free fall? Does he even want to be re-elected?

It would seem that Obama’s choice of a vacation spot has some critics on the Left.

Harry S. Obama

August 18, 2011

That is the title of Michael Barone‘s column here.

Harry S.?

 

Barone speculates on the possibility that Obama will pull a Harry Truman, that is come from behind in the polls and win unexpectedly. Barone seems skeptical.

In addition, Truman’s victory was brought about by two “F factors” — the farm vote and foreign policy — the first of which scarcely exists today and the second of which seems unlikely to benefit Obama in the same way.

When the nation went to war in the 1940s, 1 in 4 Americans still lived on farms. The 1948 electorate still reflected that America. Voter turnout was actually lower than it was in 1940, and the vast postwar demographic changes were not reflected in elections until turnout surged in the contest between Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson in 1952. Truman promised to keep Depression-era farm subsidies in place and charged that Dewey and the Republicans would repeal them. That enabled him to run ahead of Franklin Roosevelt’s 1944 showing in 13 states with large farm populations, from Indiana to Colorado and Minnesota to Oklahoma.

Without that swing in the farm vote, Truman would not have won. Dewey, waking up to find that he would not be president as he and almost everyone expected, spotted that immediately the morning after the election.

Today only 2 to 3 percent of Americans live on farms. Farm prices currently are running far ahead of subsidy prices. Obama is not going to be re-elected by the farm vote.

The second F factor that helped Truman was foreign policy. As Ornstein correctly notes, Truman’s Cold War policies — the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan — were supported by Republican congressional leaders and by Dewey. Top Dewey advisers were taken into confidence by Truman’s foreign policy appointees. It was the golden era of bipartisan foreign policy.

But on one policy, Truman went further than his top advisers and Dewey’s. When the Soviets blocked land access to West Berlin in June 1948, Truman’s advisers — men of the caliber of George Marshall and Omar Bradley — said that it was impossible to supply food and fuel to Berlin and that we should just abandon it.

At a crucial meeting in July 1948, Truman listened to this advice. After others had finished talking, Truman said simply, “We’re not leaving Berlin.” Gen. Lucius Clay, our proconsul in Germany, set about organizing what became the Berlin Airlift.

Gen. William Tunner, who had run the wartime airlift from Burma to China, made the Berlin Airlift work. Vast quantities of food and coal — far more than experts had estimated — were brought into Tempelhof Airport on planes landing in foul weather every 90 seconds. And the pilots took to throwing out pieces of candy to the hungry kids lining the runways.

Andrei Cherny​, now the chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party, tells the story in his book “The Candy Bombers.” He argues persuasively that the Berlin Airlift — an example of American strength, determination, technological prowess and generosity — played a key role in re-electing Truman.

Well, we already know that Obama will not be known in history for his tough foreign policy.

All I can say to Barak Obama is, “Mr. President, I knew Harry Truman, Harry Truman was my friend, and Mr. President, You’re no Harry S. Truman”.

Well, I didn’t really of course, that was before my time, but you get the idea.

 

Left Wing Tea Party

August 18, 2011

Ron Radosh wrote an article on Van Jones‘s attempt to build a left wing version of the Tea Party movement. They are calling this one the American Dream Movement and I suppose they will be building a grassroots progressive movement to counter the Koch brothers funded astroturfed Tea Party.

You remember Obama’s departed Green czar, the once self-proclaimed revolutionary Communist Van Jones? Well, the man is back. According to Michelle Goldberg, writing  in The Daily Beast, on July 23 Jones threw a Washington, D.C., party to announce the creation of what he predicts will be the left-wing’s Tea Party, which he calls the “American Dream Movement.” Goldberg writes:

Launched at a July 23 event in New York City that was part rally, party dance party, the American Dream Movement aims to restore the fight for economic justice to the center of progressive politics. On Aug. 9, the movement put out its crowd-sourced “Contract for the American Dream,” a 10-point economic manifesto that called for new investments in education and infrastructure; higher taxes for corporations, Wall Street and the wealthy; and curbs on lobbyists. The next day, it was published as a full-page ad in The New York Times. Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois will soon introduce the Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act, legislation based on the document.

Here’s a little more from the Daily Beast.

Like the Tea Party, the American Dream Movement is intended to be open-source, meaning that all sorts of different groups planning all sorts of different actions are encouraged to unite under its banner. But it will also have an umbrella organization, called Rebuild the Dream, which Jones is creating in concert with MoveOn.org. “If the American Dream Movement is the Tea Party, then Rebuild the Dream is Americans for Prosperity or the Tea Party Express,” says Justin Ruben, MoveOn’s executive director.

That’s not the only parallel. The American Dream Movement is intended to put a name on a preexisting political force, just as the Tea Party did. Part of the inspiration for the movement came from the demonstrations against right-wing economic policies in Wisconsin and Ohio. Since then, there have been protests nationwide, some in unexpected places. In April, Montana saw one of its biggest rallies ever when 1,500 people gathered in front of the capitol to protest budget cuts. In July, 800 people demonstrated on behalf of public-school teachers in Ogden, Utah. These protests have received far less attention than the Tea Party. “There’s been an unprecedented wave of activity that’s had no common banner, and so nobody noticed,” says Ruben.

I am not sure that a rally of 1000 or so bussed in union goons is quite the same as the Tea Party, but at least they’re trying. But, I thought the Coffee Party was the Left’s answer, or the One Nation movement, or whatever else they’ve been trying.

This link is far from sympathetic to the Tea Party. I gather the writer feels that Progressives are just to well-informed and sophisticated to follow a movement so simple-minded. They are right about the cultural differences though. The reason the Tea Party is unlikely to be matched on the left is simply because the Tea Party does a much better job of expressing  American values and ideals. Most people on the Left, the kind who go in for the Coffee Party, etc. sound like they just emerged from a time warp from the 1930’s Soviet Union.

Female “Circumcision” is Obligatory

August 18, 2011

So says one Mullah Ismael Sosaae from Kurdistan. Anyone who says otherwise must be a member of the Jewish conspiracy.

Then they come to the issue of circumcision. They have no problems left except the issue of female circumcision in Kurdistan. The mothers and sisters of more than half of your party members were circumcised. This means that you insult your own grandmother. You insult your own mother. You accuse them of ignorance. You dishonour your dead grandfather and burn his coffin for allowing the circumcision of your mother. Circumcision is a tenant of Islamic law (sharia). (…) (This bill is) to satisfy the Jews who in the conference of the Jews in Beijing discussed that female circumcision should be banned. You obey their orders and disregard the Sharia of Allah (…).

There is a lot more where that came from. Read it and shudder.

Thanks to Jihad Watch for bringing this to everyone’s attention and for the hard work they do.

 

Penn and the Bible

August 16, 2011

Wilhelm in her column I mentioned in the previous post, mentioned that Penn Jillette became an atheist after reading the Bible from cover to cover.

Which brings us back to Penn Jillette and his new book. To be fair, Jillette is an equal-opportunity religion basher — and don’t even get him started on agnostics. (Very short version: They’re cowards.) Christians like me, you’ll be pleased to know, are not the only peabrains/dangerous weirdos on the planet. But we do share a special place of dubious honor. According to God, No!, it was the cover-to-cover reading of our holy book that turned a young Jillette to the dark (or, as some prominent atheists would prefer, the “bright”) side.

Madalyn Murray O’Hair made a similar claim as have a number of other atheists. There are even websites showing the Bible to be ridiculous or evil. I have read the Bible all the way through a number of times and I do not find it to be either ridiculous or evil. I sometimes wonder if there are two editions of the Bible, the one that I have read and the one that these atheists read.

Do Atheists Have More Fun?

August 16, 2011

Heather Wilhelm asks the question in this article about Penn & Teller‘s Penn Jellette’s new book God, No! Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales. The column is worth reading as she addresses some of Penn’s objections.

Jillette‘s main problems with the man upstairs can be difficult to quote, given his fondness for F-bombs and earthy references to his favorite body part. On one page he blasts the “arrogance” of those who claim to have knowledge of a higher power. On the next, he rather confidently declares “No! There is no fricking God!” (He said something other than “fricking,” but I’m making this PG-13, repressed and Christian-y.)

Contradictory? Absolutely. Many of the objections in God, No!, in fact, are addressed in Tim Keller’s excellent book, The Reason for God, which illustrates the many leaps of faith that unbelievers must take. “Skeptics believe that any exclusive claims to a superior knowledge of spiritual reality cannot be true,” Keller writes — but this, ironically, is “also an ‘exclusive’ claim about the nature of spiritual reality.”

Similarly, Keller writes, atheists who try “to follow John Rawls and find universally accessible, ‘neutral and objective’ arguments” for a moral society will inevitably fail. In God, No!, Jillette does just that, offering “human intelligence, creativity and love” as the highest ideals.

But where do these, and other “suggestions” in the book, come from? In the end, Keller notes, people affirm “the equality and dignity of human individuals simply because [they] believe it is true and right. [They] take as an article of faith that people are more valuable than rocks or trees — though [they] can’t prove that scientifically. [Their] public policy proposals are ultimately based on a religious stance.”

For my part, I do not believe it is possible to develop an ethical or moral system without the aid of religion of some sort. Philosophers have tried to create a system of morality based solely on reason but I do not believe they have been very successful. This is not to say that there are many moral and good atheists, but they are using the moral values of the Judeo-Christian ethic. When they say that such and such is right and such and such is wrong, they are making use of norms that have already been developed.

Not only that, but where do they get the idea that there is in fact a right and wrong? It seem to me that of only the material world exists then questions of right and wrong are merely the personal opinion of each individual. What is right is what benefits me. What is wrong is what harms me. I doubt many atheists or non believers are willing to take things that far, but that is the end result of their beliefs.

Wilhelm ends her article by using C. S. Lewis to illustrate a point.

After Jillette’s mother died, as he describes in his book, “It was a time for sadness and memory, and it was also a time for pure, raw, empty hate at the pain of life.” The pre-conversion C.S. Lewis had a similar feeling: “My argument against God,” he wrote in Mere Christianity, “was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust.”

But then there’s more. “But how had I got this idea of just and unjust?” Lewis continued. “A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?” Eventually, Lewis saw his argument against God buckle and he turned out to be one of the leading Christian thinkers of the 20th century.

Just so. Again, if all that exists are atoms and the void, to quote Epicurus, than any ideas of right and wrong are so many phantasms.

But, to answer the question above, do atheists have more fun? I cannot say but judging from the screeds some of them are always writing against Christianity, they do not seem to be a particularly happy lot. The Hitchenses, Dawkinses, and Harrises of the world seem to be going around with a chip on their shoulders, which is not the happiest way to live.

 

Obama Job Rating Below 40%

August 15, 2011

From the LA Times and Drudge.

President Obama‘s summer woes have dragged his approval rating to an all-time low, sinking below 40% for the first time in Gallup’s daily tracking poll.

New data posted Sunday shows that 39% of Americans approve of Obama’s job performance, while 54% disapprove. Both are the worst numbers of his presidency.

Obama’s approval rating has hovered in the 40% range for much of 2011, peaking at 53% in the weeks following the death of Osama bin Laden.

The only question I have is, who are these 39% of people who still think Obama is doing a good job. Are there really that many Obama zombies running around with their brains scooped out? Is this the fault of our broken public school system?

I suppose that Obama still has a lot of support from the African-American community because he is the first Black president. If I were Black, however, I would be reminding everyone who would listen of the fact that he is half-white.

I can’t wait for some more hope and change in 2012.


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