Putting the Cart Before the Horse

Liberation theology is a power set of tools and approaches within any religion. It refers to internal reform of a religious tradition in order to consciously align the religious beliefs and practices toward the goal of stopping oppression, protecting the vulnerable, and advancing a progressive political agenda.
Emphasis mine.

In other words: liberation theology is just so wonderful because it makes religion subservient to the State!

Let's ignore the fact that, as far as every major monotheistic religion (and most pantheistic religions) are concerned, the idea that God exists to serve man's agenda is... pretty out there. Heretical, even. Once you get past that quibbling little objection, what could go wrong? I mean, I'm sure that nobody would ever think about streamlining things by cutting out religion entirely and just letting the State take the place of God.

Say... didn't we have a bit of a kerfluffle about this whole thing a while back?

Yeah... I'm just sayin'.

They Lie

Probably the primary reason I'm not a progressive.

They lie.

Again and again, repeatedly and intentionally, for political gain.
Keller identified Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum as “all affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity,” when Santorum is Catholic, Bachmann is Lutheran, and Perry is a Methodist. Keller hauls out the boogeyman of “dominionism,” when none of his targets are dominionists, and so on.
And you know what the response to this is from progressives? When they can't sweep it under the rug or ignore it, like they do other confrontations?

"Politicians on both sides do it!"

Yeah. You know what? There was a time I'd agree with you on that, right there. In fact, I would even agree with it now, except that there's a small problem.

They lie.

I'm not talking about spin. About putting your own view on events. About shaping the narrative. About any number of other things that I find personally repugnant and repellent in the production of our political product, but which is going to take place in any sort of debate.

They. Lie.

As for you, useful idiot on the left?

When you take this garbage, and suck it down, and smack your lips and ask for more?

When you are too lazy, and too stupid, and too ignorant to take 30 seconds in the age of always-on, internet connectivity to hit Google and find out if the outrageous lie that you're being fed makes any sense whatsoever, before you vomit it back up?

That silence right there - that's for you. The awkward pause in the conversation, the lack of replies to your Facebook post, the change in subject? Yeah, that's not agreement with your spew. That's people wondering if they should break off eye contact and back away slowly from the frothing lunatic.

And if that catches you by surprise - well. You know those Important People who've been telling you how Smart (tm) you are, how compassionate you are, how much better you are that those... those... flyover country tea bagger racist haters?


They lie.

Edit 8/29/11:

Some more lies from today. Well, OK, not from today... from this afternoon.
Edit 8/30/11:

There's a nice piece dissecting the whole "Theocratic Republicans!" lie over at Hot Air.

Being Me

Over the past year or so, I've taught a couple of lesson series for my junior high Sunday school class on topics like what it means to be an effective follower of Christ, and what it means to be an effective Christian leader. Yesterday, I started a series that I'm really excited about... what it means to be you.

Not "you" as a son or daughter, or a student, or spouse, or an employee, or a church member, or a citizen. Just talking about what God has to say about you, as an individual. Why you are important to God. What kind of relationship he wants to have with you, and what kind of relationship you have with Him. And, most of all, why it matters (or should matter, at least).

So, while I'm sure there's not going to be a break from the typical political snark - being snarky is part of what makes me me, after all - I'm hoping to write a bit about these lessons as they develop. Even if you're here primarily for the snark, I hope you'll stick around for a bit of the theology, even if it's only to see what we right-wing nut jobs and bitter clingers like to think about when we're not busy advocating traitorous notions like limited government and financial prudence.

Yeah, see? That right there? Snark. What can I say? I just gotta be me.

You and I, We Are Not So Different...

No - really.
The good news is that we can fix our nation’s problems. How? Well, the first step is to reverse this trend toward centralization and scale. We have to stop concentrating power, and start dispersing it. Corruption and regulatory overreach are political pollution, and the solution to pollution is dilution.

And, believe it or not, voters in both parties support the idea of moving decision-making closer to the people. Republicans call this “federalism,” and Democrats call this “local control.”

The media tries to divide us, but we’re really together on the need to move money and decision-making closer to the people. The Ruling Elite don’t want this to happen, of course, so they try to convince us that we are enemies of each other. Don’t believe it.

Yes, we disagree on policy. But we agree on governance, we believe in self-governance, and it is the current governance system that is broken.

The Gunfighter's Mantra

From the old west, the gunfighter's mantra: "There's always someone faster out there."

In the modern world, the blogger's manta: "There's always someone snarkier out there."

I’m just not sure whether he knows how to prove any Sobolev embedding theorems, or even accepts their correctness. We don’t even know to which Sobolev space he thinks Wk,p does belong. Imagine such a man sitting in the Oval Office, let alone across the negotiation table from Angela Merkel!

Unbelieveable Political Nerdiness

Came across this last night in some random internet wanderings...

[He] methodically takes what he wants within the limits of his code of conduct without regard for whom it hurts. He cares about tradition, loyalty, and order but not about freedom, dignity, or life. He plays by the rules but without mercy or compassion. He is comfortable in a hierarchy and would like to rule, but is willing to serve. He condemns others not according to their actions but according to race, religion, homeland, or social rank.
Wow. Maybe it's just me, but this immediately made me think of the political scene in the United States. In my mind, the text applies extremely well to the current flavor of progressive liberalism embraced by the Democrat party. Less well to the traditional Republican politician, but there's still enough similarities to what I see in the Republican party to make me go "Hmmmm."

So...what is it? Some modern political thinker, dissecting what's wrong with our country and government? The screed of some Tea Party member or a 1960's anti-war activist? Maybe a reference to a classical work on law and politics?

None of the above.

It's the description of the Lawful Evil alignment from Dungeons and Dragons.

Let's take it to the logical conclusion, now. What's the opposite of Lawful Evil? As every geek in the house says, "Chaotic Good!", I'll again quote a description...
[He] acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he’s kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society.
Sound like anybody you know?

Joining the Pack

The current meme seems to be as follows: take the list of NPR Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels, and highlight the ones you've read. I'm at 71%, which is pretty respectable, I think. Especially given that I passed on a few books that I seem to recall reading, but which I'm not really positive that I did actually read.
Take it with a grain of salt. I could probably put together a list of 100 books, any one of which deserves to be on here more than "A Brave New World" or "The Handmaid's Tale".
Or "The Legend of Drizzt", whose presence frankly baffles me.
How about the Glen Cook? What, no Black Company series? Or his Dread Empire series, or his Instrumentalities of the Night, or "The Dragon Never Sleeps"? Or... well, really, anything by Cook?
Likewise, nothing about Vlad and Loish? Someone fell asleep at the wheel, I think.
No "Lord Valentine's Castle"? Really? How about "The Lies of Locke Lamora"?
Would it kill you to slip in "Cemetary World" or "Mastadonia" or "Project Pope" or... well, anything else by Clifford Simak? (Heck, a grocery list from Simak would probably be more entertaining than some of the titles on the list!)
No Draco Tavern, no "Protector", nothing about Gil Hamilton. At least they remembered the Ringworld.
No mention of Tamson House. Come on! Remember "Moonheart"? Leaving that out is like leaving "Neuromancer" of a list of seminal cyberpunk works!
Sheesh! The list goes on. "The Man In The High Castle". "Not This August". "Dreamsnake". "Spaceling". "Lord Demon". "With A Single Spell". "A Wrinkle In Time". "Protector of the Small". "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe". "Alas, Babylon".
But, hey! "Brave New World". Yeesh.
1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien 2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick 22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King 24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley 43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven 45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne 73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle 97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis


A choice comment over at Snowflakes in Hell:
Having lived in upper Bucks County, I can confirm that the brave men and women of the PLCB — the Thin Brown Line, as it were — are all that holds Pennsylvanians back a rapid and catastrophic descent into a apocalyptic dystopian cannibalistic nightmare resembling Belgium.
"Resembling Belgium." Heh!


This is a place of peace, sacred to the dead, where men should speak with charity and restraint. We should speak of peace and of the good. But I hold it a good thing to hate evil, to hate untruth, to hate oppression; and, hating them, to strive to overthrow them.
— Michael Flynn, "Up Jim River"

Something else to be thankful for

Every day, I read Not Always Right... and give thanks that I don't work in retail.

Where's Sammy when you need him?

In a WSJ editorial, Bret Stephens asks the question, "Is Obama Smart?":
The aircraft was large, modern and considered among the world's safest. But that night it was flying straight into a huge thunderstorm. Turbulence was extreme, and airspeed indicators may not have been functioning properly. Worse, the pilots were incompetent. As the plane threatened to stall they panicked by pointing the nose up, losing speed when they ought to have done the opposite. It was all over in minutes.

Was this the fate of Flight 447, the Air France jet that plunged mysteriously into the Atlantic a couple of years ago? Could be. What I'm talking about here is the Obama presidency.

When it comes to piloting, Barack Obama seems to think he's the political equivalent of Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Yeager and—in a "Fly Me to the Moon" sort of way—Nat King Cole rolled into one. "I think I'm a better speech writer than my speech writers," he reportedly told an aide in 2008. "I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that I'm . . . a better political director than my political director."
Much as I enjoyed Cheers, I have to admit that I'm disturbed at the realization that we have Cliff Clavin in the White House...

Matthew 26:9

Came across a mention of Ayrton Senna today. What caught my eye:
After Senna's death it was discovered that he had donated millions of dollars of his personal fortune (estimated at $400 million at the time of his death) to children's charities, a fact that during his life he had kept secret. Based on a desire to contribute effectively, with the help of his sister Vivianne, a foundation was established in Brazil, Instituto Ayrton Senna, which has invested nearly US $80 million over the last twelve years in social programs and actions in partnership with schools, government, NGOs, and the private sector aimed at offering children and teenagers from low-income backgrounds the skills and opportunities they need to develop to their full potential as persons, citizens and future professionals.
What a waste. I'm sure that the government of Brazil would have spent his money far more wisely. Instead of helping to educate 12 million kids, just imagine how many recall elections Senna could have funded!

You've got to have your priorities, after all.

Matthew 23:14

Ira Stoll at Reason.com wonders why "Obama Gets a Blank Check for Endless War"...
Record numbers of U.S. troops are dying under Obama, but the anti-war movement is nowhere to be found.

The Obama administration is on pace to have more American soldiers killed in casualties related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan than the George W. Bush administration did in its first term.

It all raises at least two related questions. First, where are the antiwar protests? And second, where is the press?

In a phone interview, the national coordinator of United for Peace and Justice, which organized some of the largest antiwar protests during the Bush administration, Michael McPhearson, said part of the explanation is political partisanship. A lot of the antiwar protesters, he said, were Democrats. “Once Obama got into office, they kind of demobilized themselves,” he said.

“Because he’s a Democrat, they don’t want to oppose him in the same way as they opposed Bush,” said Mr. McPhearson, who is also a former executive director of Veterans for Peace, and who said he voted for President Obama in 2008.

No... Really?

Via Overlawyered, a prime example of Quinn's First Law - "Liberalism always generates the exact opposite of its stated intent."

As David Aronson explains in the NYT:
The “Loi Obama” or Obama Law — as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform act of 2010 has become known in the region — includes an obscure provision that requires public companies to indicate what measures they are taking to ensure that minerals in their supply chain don’t benefit warlords in conflict-ravaged Congo...

Unfortunately, the Dodd-Frank law has had unintended and devastating consequences, as I saw firsthand on a trip to eastern Congo this summer. The law has brought about a de facto embargo on the minerals mined in the region, including tin, tungsten and the tantalum that is essential for making cellphones...

For locals, however, the law has been a catastrophe...

Meanwhile, the law is benefiting some of the very people it was meant to single out. The chief beneficiary is Gen. Bosco Ntaganda, who is nicknamed The Terminator and is sought by the International Criminal Court.
Update: over at The Agitator, Radley Balko points to a link that would seem to imply that you should replace "Liberalism" with "Government", as an opinion piece in the NYT points out that - amazingly! - government price controls create cancer drug shortages:
Historically, this “buy and bill” system was quite lucrative; drug companies charged Medicare and insurance companies inflated, essentially made-up “average wholesale prices.” The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, signed by President George W. Bush, put an end to this arrangement...

The act had an unintended consequence. In the first two or three years after a cancer drug goes generic, its price can drop by as much as 90 percent as manufacturers compete for market share. But if a shortage develops, the drug’s price should be able to increase again to attract more manufacturers. Because the 2003 act effectively limits drug price increases, it prevents this from happening. The low profit margins mean that manufacturers face a hard choice: lose money producing a lifesaving drug or switch limited production capacity to a more lucrative drug.
On a side node... hey, NYT - what happened here? Did you send all your regular reporters off to cover the President's fund-raising meetings and leave the token Libertarians to put the paper to bed this weekend or something?

You know you've just finished an MHI book...

... when you walk into WalMart, and think, "Hmm. When the zombies come, I can scramble up the display case over there and follow the air vent from the bakery up into the rafters. Maybe make my way back to sporting goods and grab a shotgun. No, there's probably no way up into the rafters back there - so, shotgun first, then back to the bakery. Oooh, and there's even a skylight to the roof if things get nasty! OK, I can shop now."

I'm 1/3 Crazy

Well, perhaps a little over 1/3 - closer to 35%, at least according to the Libertarian Purity Test, where I end up at about 56/160. Assuming, of course, that you consider personal freedom to be "crazy". Given that I've got the the vice-president calling me a terrorist for thinking the government shouldn't spend more money than it takes in taxes, I think I'm actually pretty happy being where I am. Let's call it being 35% sane.

At a score of 56, the LPT results page tells me, "You are a medium-core libertarian, probably self-consciously so. Your friends probably encourage you to quit talking about your views so much."

Heh :-) Silly test. That's what blogs are for!

As for why only 35%... well, that honestly surprised me; I thought I was more libertarian than that. After thinking about it a bit, I'm pretty sure that I am... I'm just expressing a bit of patience.

Let me 'splain. No, there is to much to 'splain - let me sum up.

There's been a recent PSA making the rounds comparing Washington with drug addicts. As I was going through the test, I found myself thinking about that particular comparison. Get rid of social security, replace it with private accounts? Heck yeah! But... do it overnight?

Huh. You could, but there would be a good chance of what military commentators refer to as "collateral damage". Imagine the government as a junkie going through withdrawal, complete with DTs... and we're locked in the room with him. Oh, and he's at least twice our size, and has a baseball bat.

Yeah. Maybe there's a less immediately dangerous way to do this. While I may eventually want my drug-addicted friend who's been living under the I80 underpass to eventually have a good job, a wonderful spouse, a supportive family and a great life, I'm also realistic enough to understand that getting to that point is going to require some steps. A lot of steps, actually. For the first pass, I'd just be happy to get them out from under the overpass. We can tackle the major issues after we get them a bit of a bath, a good night's sleep, and out of the "Oh, wow, I didn't die last night" life they're enmeshed in.

In a very similar way, I think trying to go from 0 to 160 on the libertarian scale overnight would very quickly leave We, The People, up a certain creek, desperately searching for a paddle. Hence a lot of my answers on the quiz, and the reason I'm only 1/3 sane. I think I'd get up to 50/50 pretty easily, though, if you could reword some of those questions a bit. Consider the difference between these two questions:
"Should we abolish Medicare?"

"Should we limit Medicare to only those individuals who are currently enrolled?"
Both result in an end to Medicare. The second just makes it obvious that it's going to take a while, and that - in the meantime - we're going to have to figure out how to honor the existing commitment we're inheriting. I have similar feelings about social security, a lot of government agencies, and such. Cut them down, definitely, and keep cutting them down... but instead of slamming them all the way to zero in the space of a heartbeat, let's have a controlled deceleration to allow individuals the time to adjust.

Let's get the government out from under the overpass, first. Clean it up a bit. Then we can start talking about the really hard issues, once we're sure that it's in a place where just managing to survive from day to day isn't the best you can hope for.