Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How the Welfare System Punishes Work

When Work Is Punished: The Tragedy Of America's Welfare State | ZeroHedge:

"...the single mom is better off earnings gross income of $29,000 with $57,327 in net income & benefits than to earn gross income of $69,000 with net income and benefits of $57,045" -- Gary Alexander, Secretary of Public Welfare, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Reduced Religious Vitality, Our Nation, and the 2012 Election

Reduced Religious Vitality, Our Nation, and the 2012 Election - Institute on Religion & Democracy (IRD):

But the Sea of Faith is receding in America. We are hearing “its long, melancholy, withdrawing roar" (to quote Matthew Arnold). Its withdrawal is applauded by the “nones” (those without religious connections) and the more ardent secularists, who voted spectacularly for Obama. They want a public square denuded of religion and  private life shaped by unfettered desire. Our weakened religious culture will produce virtue for some time yet, but how long before we tumble headlong into the abyss of our possibilities?

In short, our economic mess is a product of our social disorder, which in turn has much to do with our weakened religious vitality. This all cannot be blamed on Obama, but his victory was enabled by it. At the very least it is a symptom of it. What to do about it?  One response might be the Epicurean: build a wall around your little castle to keep out the din of decay and enjoy the small pleasures of life. Another might be to hope for and participate in a religious renewal. Jonathan Edwards, “America’s theologian,’ argued that human flourishing in history was dependent on religious revival fueled by the movement of the Spirit. The First Great Awakening—in which he vigorously participated—issued in the movement for independence from Britain. Maybe a new awakening can save us from our decline. 
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Monday, November 12, 2012

The Marine Corps Propaganda Machine

Never Faithful; The Rivalry Between our Army and Marines « The Populist:

Written in February 2006, a history since World War I and a hard look at how the Marines botched the Iraq War. Badly.

In Fallujah and Najaf, inexperienced Marine units picked fights with insurgents, and in both cases ended up handing the enemy a strategic victory. Their failure to recapture Fallujah made the city a rallying cry for Islamic militarism worldwide, (that is until the second US assault rendered Fallujah uninhabitable). The Marine’s botched attempt to capture Muqtata al-Sadr has only strengthened his hand.

Today there are 23,000 Marines in Iraq, out of a total 138,000 U.S. Armed Forces personnel. Marines are 17 percent of our total force, yet they have suffered 29 percent of all U.S. casualties; 530 of the more than 1,820 U.S. service personnel killed in Iraq. The Marine’s aggressive tactics combined with a lack of armored firepower has proven lethal, their bravery notwithstanding.

The United States Marines pride themselves on being better than the US Army. They are harder, more gung-ho, and they possess some magic that enables them to do things the US Army can’t do. If this is not true, (as recent events in Iraq suggest), then there is no reason for a separate Marine Corps.

President Harry Truman once stated that Marines; “Have a propaganda machine that is almost equal to Stalin’s.”

Saturday, November 3, 2012

RealClearReligion - Idolatry of the Enlightenment

RealClearReligion - Idolatry of the Enlightenment:

Jurgen Habermas, one of the leading philosophers in the world, advocates (admittedly at a higher level of sophistication) the position staked out by Steinberg. He argues, accordingly, that the only people who should be allowed around the table of political discussion in contemporary societies are those who accept the presumptions of the Enlightenment. Thus religious people, representing some of the most ancient intellectual traditions in the West and relying on the work of such geniuses as St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, John Henry Newman, John Wesley, and G.K. Chesterton, would not be allowed Habermas's table. Nor for that matter would William Lloyd Garrison, Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, or Mohandas Gandhi. One wonders how neither Habermas nor Steinberg can see that the Enlightenment view, though obviously valuable, is hardly identical to Reason tout court. 
Utterly congruent with this idolatry of the Enlightenment is Steinberg's sneering relegation of religion to the arena of hobbies and harmless avocations: "Life is a long time and you have to fill it somehow, and adhering to the various tenets of Lutheranism or Baptism or Seventh Day Adventism is not inherently a worse use of your time than, oh, knitting colorful afghans or playing John Madden Football or anything else." Though the Christian tradition essentially created the culture of the West, though it invented the university system, and though it gave rise to Dante's Divine Comedy, Aquinas's Summa Theologiae, Chartres Cathedral, the Sistine Chapel ceiling, Bach's cantatas, and the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins and T.S. Eliot, it is, according to Mr. Steinberg, the intellectual equivalent of knitting an afghan! Trust me when I tell you that whatever matrix of thought produced that conclusion ain't identical to "sweet reason." It is in fact something peculiar and sectarian indeed. 
The relegation of religion to the private realm is, of course, an aggressive move, for it is designed to exclude religious people from the political and cultural conversation. Basically, Habermas and Steinberg and their fellows are saying to religious believers, "While you play at your little hobbies, we rationalists will take care of serious matters." In the face of this act of violence, believers should engage in non-violent resistance, entering the public arena with the language of the Bible and the great tradition on their lips, as did our forebears Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. Pace the secular ideologues, it is altogether possible for religious people -- especially those who believe in the divine Logos -- to have a logical conversation.

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