Antiwar movement targets President Obama

The Washington Post reports Antiwar Protesters Turn Their Sights on Obama. Here in our nation’s capital, the old sign carriers that stood in front of the Bush White House have started their vigil in front of the Obama White House. Code Pink is now vilifying President Obama, just as it did President Bush. Even is turning against the president whose campaign it bankrolled. Leftists are disillusioned that the president they held so much hope for is continuing the war in Afghanistan. The feeling of betrayal must be what the left once felt for Lyndon Baines Johnson, the arch-liberal godfather of the Great Society welfare state who waged the war in Vietnam.

OK, conservatives, now will you support your president, at least on this one issue?

Trimming the deficit via health care reform?

The latest health care proposal is touted as saving the government money:

A health-care reform bill drafted by the Senate Finance Committee would expand health coverage to nearly 30 million Americans who currently lack insurance and would meet President Obama’s goal of reducing the federal budget deficit by 2019, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.

The bill would cost $829 billion over the next decade, but would more than offset that cost by slicing hundreds of billions from government health programs such as Medicare and by imposing a 40 percent excise tax on high-cost insurance policies starting in 2013.

All told, the package would slice $81 billion from projected budget deficits over the next 10 years, the CBO said, and continue to reduce deficits well into the future.

It would also expand coverage to 94 percent of Americans by 2019, the CBO said, up from the current 83 percent.

I’m curious what they are cutting out of Medicare. If it’s just paying less for services, that will mean even fewer doctors will take Medicare patients than do now. And this is an even bigger tax on the “cadillac plans” that many Americans enjoy and soon won’t have than was announced earlier. And for all of this, the percentage of Americans now having health care insurance will go up only 11%? Still, Congress seems giddy to have come up with a plan that will actually cut the deficit, so this might be what we end up with, though details of the legislation have yet to be spelled out.

The problem of pleasure

The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup post made me recall a C. S. Lewis quip, which together formed this thought:

If the problem of pain is a difficult philosophical and theological problem–how could a just God allow the existence of so much pain in the world?–surely there must also be an equally difficult problem of pleasure: How could a just God allow the existence of so much pleasure in the world?

What does it mean that God gave us our senses, that He created colors and made us to perceive flavors (such as chocolate and peanut butter, sweetness and savoriness), a universe filled with beauty, a course of ordinary life filled with so many satisfactions? Yes, we also experience pain, but if this is supposed to be a vale of soul building, shouldn’t our lives be harder than they usually are? Why does He insist on being so good to us?

Revising the political left and right

Saying that liberals are on the “left” and conservatives are on the “right” goes back to the old General Assembly in post-revolutionary France. Representatives of the conservative factions–the nobility, the clergy–sat at the right of the meeting hall, while the Jacobins and other radical parties sat at the left. But such a spatial metaphor for the political spectrum can be quite misleading.

David G. Muller, Jr at American Thinker explains why and proposes a new spectrum. He points out that the conventional model goes like this, reading from left to right:

communism; socialism; liberalism; moderation; conservatism; fascism

Muller gives several reasons why this is doesn’t work. Among other problems, it depicts totalitarian systems at both ends. The poles are not opposite. And there is no place for libertarians, which apparently do exist. He proposes an alignment based on the degree that a political system allows for personal liberty as opposed to government control. Here is his alternative:

communism & fascism; socialism; liberalism; moderation; conservatism; libertarianism

He might have included other totalitarian ideologies at the left and put anarchism at the far right. This is better, I suppose, since there is a criterion, unlike the conventional model. But where would he put those who want the government to operate the economy but to maximize sexual freedom? Or how about those who believe in a free economy but also moral restraints? Where are law and order conservatives? Or European style “Christian Democrats” who are culturally conservative but believe the government should operate a welfare state to care for the poor?

How about a continuum based on revolutionary cultural change? Free market economics has changed culture in dynamic ways more than communism could ever pull off. Such a model might look like this:

free market conservatism; libertarianism; communism; fascism; socialism; moderation; Burkean cultural conservatism

What about the traditional polarity between democracy and monarchy? American-style republicanism of every stripe would be at the far left of the spectrum. One-party systems, such as communism, would be on the right, though not so far as hereditary monarchies.

What other spectrums could you devise based on other criteria?

HT: The Pearcey Report

The caps on chromosomes

It’s Nobel Prize season, a time to salute good scholarship and, even more, to marvel at the structures built into nature that the winners have discovered. This year’s Nobel prize for medicine goes to three scientists who discovered how chromosomes stay together and keep their integrity even after the cells split. It seems the strands of genetic material have little caps on their ends:

Elizabeth H. Blackburn of the University of California at San Francisco, Carol W. Greider of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Jack W. Szostak of Harvard Medical School in Boston were awarded the $1.4 million 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. It was the first time two women shared the prize. . . .

The scientists won for a series of experiments they conducted in the 1970s and 1980s that showed that the long, intricate molecules known as chromosomes, which carry genes inside every cell, have protective structures on their ends — often likened to the plastic tips on shoelaces — called telomeres, which are replenished with an enzyme dubbed telomerase.

The work “solved a major problem in biology” and has led to groundbreaking insights into the aging process and potentially to new treatments for cancer and many other health problems, the Nobel Assembly said.

“This is a fundamental biological mechanism,” said Rune Toftgard of the Karolinska Institute.

In time and after multitudes of cell divisions, those caps degrade, leading to the degeneration of the cells, as we aging folks are experiencing. Knowing about these caps mean that some of those effects might conceivably be reversed, and knocking off the caps might help us defeat the uncontrolled cell division that is cancer.

But those caps are absolutely necessary for life and reproduction. I suppose an atheist materialist would have to say, “Isn’t it lucky that chromosomes randomly generated those little caps?”

But surely this is an example of irreducible complexity. Those little caps couldn’t have evolved, because to have evolution, you must have reproduction. These are necessary for reproduction, which means they have must have first appeared fully-formed.

Making the Bible more conservative

Rod Dreher at Crunchycon draws attention to a venture designed to make the Bible more conservative. It’s a project of Conservapedia, a conservative version of Wikipedia. The idea is to use Wiki-style mass collaboration to make a new translation of the Bible that accords with ten principles. From Conservative Bible Project – Conservapedia:

(1) Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias
(2) Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, “gender inclusive” language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity
(3) Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level[3]
(4) Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop;[4] defective translations use the word “comrade” three times as often as “volunteer”; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as “word”, “peace”, and “miracle”.
(5) Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as “gamble” rather than “cast lots”;[5] using modern political terms, such as “register” rather than “enroll” for the census
(6) Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
(7) Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
(8) Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story
(9) Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels
(10) Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word “Lord” rather than “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” or “Lord God.”

So the account of Jesus forgiving the woman who had committed adultery is a “liberal” addition! Revise the parables to reflect free market principles!

If you go to the Bible translating wiki site these people have set up, you will see that they are working from the King James translation. They must think the King James translation is too liberal!

The idea is that thousands of conservatives in a vast self-correcting collaboration will translate the Bible. Never mind that contributors do not need to know the original languages or anything about the Bible. The free marketplace of free market ideas will take care of it.

But more to the point: If you are more conservative than the Bible is, you are too conservative. If you are more liberal than the Bible is, you are too liberal. To read the Bible, you don’t stand above it, evaluating it and passing judgments according to your beliefs. Rather, the Bible evaluates YOU and passes judgment on YOUR beliefs. And if you think the purpose of the Bible is to advance your political agenda or to “combat harmful addictions” and if you think the parts about forgiving sin are “liberal,” you haven’t got a clue about the nature of God’s Word.

I’m totally annoyed that such presumption is labeled “conservative.” Could some of you please explain for the record why this project is NOT conservative?