Saul Alinsky’s rules for radicals

Back when Barack Obama was first running for president, I was among those worried about his community organizing ties to the Marxist activist Saul Alinsky.  I admit that Obama has not set up a dictatorship of the proletariat, though this quotation from Alinsky does sort of describe what I’m hearing from many Democrats:  “A Marxist begins with his prime truth that all evils are caused by the exploitation of the proletariat by the capitalists.”

The Washington Post‘s Melinda Henneberger has written a column expressing disappointment that President Obama has not been following Alinsky’s notorious “Rules for Radicals.”  See  Saul Alinsky would be so disappointed: Obama breaks ‘Rules for Radicals’ – She the People: – The Washington Post.

But today conservatives are vying for the title of “radical.”  Newt Gingrich claims he is the most radical conservative running for president.  Ron Paul is being lauded for his “radical” proposals.

Consider Alinsky’s thirteen “Rules for Radicals“:

#1. Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have. 

#2. Never go outside the expertise of your people. When an action or tactic is outside the experience of the people, the result is confusion, fear and retreat…. [and] the collapse of communication.

#3. Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy. Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)

#4. Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.  You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”

#5. Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.  It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.

#6. “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”

 #7. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.  Man can sustain militant interest in any issue for only a limited time.

#8. Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.

#9. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.

#10. The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. It is this unceasing pressure that results in the reactions from the opposition that are essential for the success of the campaign.

#11. If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counterside… every positive has its negative.
#12. The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.

#13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it. In conflict tactics there are certain rules that [should be regarded] as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and ‘frozen.’. . .any target can always say, ‘Why do you center on me when there are others to blame as well?’ When your ‘freeze the target,’ you disregard these [rational but distracting] arguments…. Then, as you zero in and freeze your target and carry out your attack, all the ‘others’ come out of the woodwork very soon. They become visible by their support of the target…’. . .One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.

Where do you see these tactics at work?  Are conservatives as well as leftists using them?  Are there ways maybe that conservatives–for example, pro-life activists– should use them?

The truth about sexual violence statistics

More ways to lie with statistics.  From an article by Christina Hoff Sommers:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a study suggesting that rates of sexual violence in the United States are comparable to those in the war-stricken Congo. How is that possible?

The CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that, in the United States in 2010, approximately 1.3 million women were raped and an additional 12.6 million women and men were victims of sexual violence. It reported, “More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.” . . .

The agency’s figures are wildly at odds with official crime statistics. The FBI found that 84,767 rapes were reported to law enforcement authorities in 2010. The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey, the gold standard in crime research, reports 188,380 rapes and sexual assaults on females and males in 2010. Granted, not all assaults are reported to authorities. But where did the CDC find 13.7 million victims of sexual crimes that the professional criminologists had overlooked?

It found them by defining sexual violence in impossibly elastic ways and then letting the surveyors, rather than subjects, determine what counted as an assault. Consider: In a telephone survey with a 30 percent response rate, interviewers did not ask participants whether they had been raped. Instead of such straightforward questions, the CDC researchers described a series of sexual encounters and then they determined whether the responses indicated sexual violation. A sample of 9,086 women was asked, for example, “When you were drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent, how many people ever had vaginal sex with you?” A majority of the 1.3 million women (61.5 percent) the CDC projected as rape victims in 2010 experienced this sort of “alcohol or drug facilitated penetration.”

What does that mean? If a woman was unconscious or severely incapacitated, everyone would call it rape. But what about sex while inebriated? Few people would say that intoxicated sex alone constitutes rape — indeed, a nontrivial percentage of all customary sexual intercourse, including marital intercourse, probably falls under that definition (and is therefore criminal according to the CDC).

Other survey questions were equally ambiguous. Participants were asked if they had ever had sex because someone pressured them by “telling you lies, making promises about the future they knew were untrue?” All affirmative answers were counted as “sexual violence.” Anyone who consented to sex because a suitor wore her or him down by “repeatedly asking” or “showing they were unhappy” was similarly classified as a victim of violence.

via CDC study on sexual violence in the U.S. overstates the problem – The Washington Post.

Perhaps the CDC researchers are sensing that all extra-marital sex has an element of exploitation about it, but since moral absolutes must be left out of the equation, they are instead trying to employ secular legalisms and the feminist ideology that says women are always being oppressed by men.  But that does not excuse  “constructing” data like this.

Unclean spirits

Sunday the Gospel reading was Mark 1:21-28 on Jesus casting out an unclean spirit.  Here is what Pastor Douthwaite did with that text:

Now, several things strike me about this account so far. First, it seems as if no one knew there was a man with an unclean spirit among them. They all went to church that Sabbath, like normal. They all sat in their regular pews, in their regular places, like normal, like good Lutherans! They saw their friends and neighbors, and everything seemed to be fine. So maybe people with unclean spirits, people possessed by demons, don’t always look like raving lunatics. Sometimes, you know, they look normal, just like you and me. . . .

Sometimes I get questions about unclean spirits and demon possession and why it seems that happened so much in Jesus’ day and not so much today. Well, maybe it is happening today. Maybe those folks just look normal and regular, like that day in Capernaum. We know that satan isn’t going to rest. He does not grow tired as we do. And, in fact, as the end grows closer with each day that goes by, he is, if anything, increasing his efforts to keep people away from, and separate them from, Jesus. So don’t be fooled.

And isn’t it the case today that we are often surprised at those who are “possessed” (in a sense) by unclean spirits? When people who are looked up to, who are in positions of power, who are leaders, suddenly become the subject of scandal? When secret addictions and possessions suddenly – or immediately, as Mark would say – become known. Those who are possessed by lust or sexuality or drugs usually make the headlines. But that’s not all. People become possessed with all kinds of unclean spirits – of anger, bitterness, and revenge; of false beliefs and destructive philosophies; of greed, despair, pride, and how many more? Possessing our minds, possessing our bodies, possessing our hearts, enslaving us to sins of all kinds. . . . And how about you? Who would be surprised at the unclean spirits that torment you? The sins that so entice you and seek to enslave you? You all look so normal, so together, so good. But is it true? . . . .
But here’s the second thing that struck me: if the people don’t know what to make of Jesus and His authoritative teaching and are not sure who He is – that unclean spirit knew!. . . .

The unclean spirit is compelled. It is no longer in control. It is forced to submit and come out. And here’s the good news of this story for you and me. That whatever sins or uncleanness or unclean spirits seek to possess you, haunt you, enslave you, or entice you, they can no longer rule you. For Jesus has come. He has come to expel them and set you free.
For while expelling an unclean spirit in a little church in Capernaum might seem like small potatoes, its significance lies in the fact that it is the opening skirmish in a war that will lead to the cross, where the true power of God will be seen. For if it was in Capernaum that the unclean spirits heard what Jesus had to say to them, it is from the cross where we hear what Jesus has to say to us: Father, forgive them. For with the blood that flowed from the Lamb of God that day, the blood of the perfect and innocent One sacrificed for the sin of the world, the blood of the New Testament, our forgiveness, our cleansing, is won. We are not expelled – we are forgiven! We are cleansed.

That is the new teaching of Jesus the people heard that day in Capernaum – the Gospel. That in Him, God was reconciling the world to Himself. That in Him, the Old Testament was being fulfilled. That in Him, the unclean are clean again. Jesus wasn’t preaching a new Law, but the forgiveness of sins and the cleansing He came to bring. And then Jesus showed it and did it. In effect, trading places with the man possessed. Jesus would take His uncleanness and captivity to death, to set this man free.

via St. Athanasius Lutheran Church: Epiphany 4 Sermon.

Emotional Freedom Technique?

Should Christians employ acupuncture, yoga, and other “alternative medicine” treatments whose theoretical foundations come out of Eastern or New Age religions?  All of those energy meridians, chakras, and the like are far removed from a Christian worldview, much less the worldview of modern science. And yet they seem to “work” for many people, as if there might be an innocently secular physiological explanation.  (Notice how being “secular” in the sense of non-religious can be a good thing from a Christian perspective, much better than “pagan” or “teaching a false religion.”)

I bring this up because a reader wrote me about a kind of psychological acupuncture technique that is going around called the “Emotional Freedom Technique.”  Here is what she said:

Do you think that the Emotional Freedom Technique, psychological acupressure based on energy meridians, is dangerous for Christians? It appears to be successful with PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] patients. It involves simple tapping with fingertips to input kinetic energy into specific meridians while you think of a specific problem and make a positive statement. It seems harmless enough, yet is close to the Word Faith, name it and claim it, positive confession movement.

She says a number of Christian therapists are using it.

She referred me to this website:  EFT | Dr. Mercola’s Emotional Freedom Technique.

What you do is tap your body at various points–yes, you do it yourself, which will make you look very silly if you do it in public.  And while you are hitting yourself, you say the following:  “Even though I have this [name your problem],  I deeply and completely accept myself.”

Now this strikes me as ludicrous.  And with the telling yourself how much you accept yourself, it can’t be completely physical.  I consider it on the order of that great new wonder drug called “placebo.”

But what’s the attraction for Christians?  They don’t believe in energy meridians, do they?  If so, on what basis?  Taoism?

Inflation remains low–thanks to Bernanke?

One of the Republican candidate’s favorite whipping boys is Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve.  They have been accusing him of employing monetary policies that produce inflation.  But it turns out, inflation rates continue to be low:

Bernanke didn’t need to rebut his critics; the facts already have. Earlier Wednesday, the Fed reported that expectations are inflation will remain between 1.4 percent and 1.8 percent for 2012 and between 1.5 percent and 2 percent through 2014. The exceptionally low inflation rate proves false the complaints about Bernanke’s aggressive — and successful — actions to avert an economic depression after the 2008 financial crisis.

Former candidate Rick Perry has been the worst of the critics, calling Bernanke’s behavior “almost treasonous” and declaring that Bernanke would face an “ugly” greeting in Texas if he injected more monetary stimulus into the economy. “It’s a travesty that young people in America are seeing their dollars devalued,” Perry complained.

Newt Gingrich called Bernanke “the most inflationary, dangerous and power-centered chairman of the Fed in the history of the Fed.” Ron Paul accused Bernanke of “inflating twice as fast as Greenspan.” Mitt Romney joined the others in saying he wouldn’t reappoint Bernanke, who was first appointed by President George W. Bush.

On Wednesday, Bernanke allowed himself just a passing reference to such critics. “The low level of inflation is a validation,” he said. “There are some who were very concerned that our balance-sheet policies and the like would lead to high inflation. There’s certainly no sign of that yet.”

via Ben Bernanke smiles in the face of critics – The Washington Post.

Could someone explain Ron Paul’s and Newt Gingrich’s criticism of the Federal Reserve?  My understanding is that Paul is against the institution on principle–what’s the principle?  The need to go back to the gold standard?  Is that feasible?

Put a bird on it, but not a real bird

More Portlandia. . . .

This is more than a satire of artsiness.  It cuts to the human condition:   how we idealize nature while also loathing and fearing actual nature.

HT:  Joanna


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