Saturday, April 16, 2016

Do airline companies assume that terrorists can only afford a seat in economy class?

As a frequent plane passenger I often have to go through the charade of the “security theatre” before boarding a flight
writes Koen de Regt of Johannesburg to The Economist (“No more of the same, please”, November 14th), calling it Play Acting.
I have lost many nail clippers, because everyone knows how dangerous those things are in the hands of a terrorist.

Why then, I wonder, do they still serve dinner with steel knives and forks in business class? Do airline companies assume that terrorists can only afford a seat in economy class?
Ten years ago, incidentally, Koen de Regt was living in Amsterdam.

Friday, April 15, 2016

All socialists claim to be democratic; there are no self-described “undemocratic socialists” or “anti-democratic socialists”

It takes a certain chutzpah to insist that food lines are actually a good thing
notes Benny Huang wryly on Front Page Mag
—but that’s exactly what Bernie Sanders did in 1985 when he was the mayor of Burlington, Vermont. An old video of Sanders, a self-described “democratic” socialist, has surfaced in which he speaks favorably of the Marxist government of Nicaragua. The video was recorded in August of 1985, just weeks after he visited Nicaragua at the invitation of the left-wing junta.

Sanders went beyond decrying American involvement in that nation’s dirty civil war and actually praised the Soviet-supported Sandinistas, their policies, and even their food lines. “You know, it’s funny, sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is because people are lining up for food,” said Sanders. “That’s a good thing. In other countries the rich get the food and the poor starve to death.”      

 … The Nicaragua that Sanders visited during the 1980s was distinctly socialist but not particularly democratic. In 1979, the Sandinistas overthrew dictator Anastasio Somoza and instituted rule by decree while promising democratic elections. As time passed, however, it became evident that one dictatorship had replaced another.

  … In 1984 the Sandinistas, under internal and international pressure, allowed the people to vote in an election whose legitimacy has been debated ever since. While some international observers concluded that it was imperfect but fair, others have called it a sham. At very least, we know that the elections took place under a “state of emergency” declared by the ruling Sandinistas in 1982. Basic freedoms such as free speech, press, and assembly were suspended. Independent radio and television broadcasts were banned.
It’s rather difficult to win an election when your opponent won’t allow you to talk, meet, publish, or broadcast over the airwaves. The state of emergency continued until 1988.
Legitimate or not, the Sandinistas were the clear victors of the 1984 election that they had only begrudgingly allowed. They promised another election in 1985, the year Mayor Sanders visited, which they reneged on. It wasn’t until 1990 that the Nicaraguan people were permitted to cast ballots again. This time the Marxists were tossed out.

In the span of eleven years the Sandinistas allowed only two elections, neither of which they actually wanted to hold. One of these elections may have been rigged and the other they lost. Was the “democratic” socialist Bernie Sanders dismayed by the lack of democracy in Nicaragua?

Not in the least.

 … It should be noted here that all socialists claim to be democratic. There are no self-described “undemocratic socialists” or “anti-democratic socialists,” even among those who plainly display authoritarian tendencies. Even the Soviet Union claimed to be democratic, more democratic in fact than our own country. Democracy worked a little differently in their country, you see, because the Communist Party considered itself to be the only authentic voice of the proletariat. If any other party managed to win an election that could only mean that the capitalists/fascists/imperialists had perverted the process. Only Communist Party members were therefore permitted to win elections.

More or less the same rationale is and has been used in all socialist countries. East Germany was actually called the German Democratic Republic, a name that government officials used profusely and without irony. The ruling Socialist Unity Party won elections by absurd margins because the game was rigged. Cubans are still anxiously awaiting the free elections that Castro promised when he came to power in 1959. Even North Korea, the last bastion of Stalinism on earth, calls itself the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

So what is this thing called democratic socialism? If it exists at all it cannot be distinguished from other varieties of socialism or by the public statements of its supporters. Fidel Castro and Kim Jong-Un would both tell you that they are democratic socialists.

While some news outlets deliberately avoid the subject of Sanders’ socialism, others such as the taxpayer-funded NPR mislead their listeners (perhaps deliberately) about what this serious presidential candidate truly believes. In August 2015, NPR reporter John Dillon explained to his audience that Senator Sanders is actually the good kind of socialist—the democratic kind. Again, show me a socialist who claims to be anything else.

Dillon’s entire article takes on the exasperated tone of an intellectual who’s tired of explaining to the ignorant American public that they have nothing to fear from socialism. Americans, you see, have this weird phobia of progressive causes that just won’t die despite years of contrary messaging emanating from Hollywood and the elite media. Dillon Writes: “[Sanders] says the kind of socialism he advocates is the Democratic socialism seen in Scandinavia and other countries in Europe.” Yes, he says that—but if Dillon were a reporter and not a stenographer he wouldn’t take Sanders’ statement at face value. He would look a little closer and see that Sanders never met a red dictatorship he didn’t like. Dillon continues: “Those governments support paid sick leave, universal health care and free higher education.” Dillon doesn’t pose the question of when Sanders stopped supporting the Central American brand of socialism. Nothing in the article suggests that Sanders ever did.

The same article quotes Professor Garrison Nelson of the University of Vermont: "This is not communism; this is not five-year plans, collectivized agriculture and nationalized industry." Not that Sanders would oppose any of that, by the way. That’s what existed in Nicaragua where Sanders went to undercut his country’s foreign policy and bolster the spirits of the Marxists. That’s also what existed in the Soviet Union, where Sanders honeymooned in 1988. It beggars belief to suppose that a hypothetical President Sanders would oppose those policies even here. Would he veto a bill to nationalize, for example, the petroleum industry? Pharmaceuticals? I doubt it.  
“Democratic” socialism sounds great to a lot of people because it sounds like free stuff. A critical mass of Americans now votes for what they want rather than working for it. They scoff at the rest of us who see this attitude as the slippery slope to banana republic status. Denmark is their model, they say, not some bankrupt third world backwater. But then the mask slips and we see that this brand of socialism is nothing but old wine in new bottles. Bernie Sanders, the cranky old Sandinista fanboy, is not the wave of the future. He’s the last dying breath of a failed dream that truly deserves its fate because it was ill-conceived in the first place.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bible Verses That May Not Be as Extreme or as Immoral or as Ridiculous as Initially Thought

Jeff Sanders seeks to explain 6 Controversial Bible Passages the Skeptics Love to Hate (thank ye to brother Ed Driscoll). As he notes, leftists are in the habit of using the more "unusual" passages or commands in scripture
to show that the Bible is ridiculous or anti-women or anti-science or just downright immoral.
Here is just one of his six examples that perhaps ain't as controversial as depicted:
A widow must marry her brother-in-law? (Deuteronomy 25:10) 

This is a passage that teaches "levirate marriage" (which was quite common in the ancient world). "Levirate" comes from the Latin word levir, meaning "brother-in-law." The law states that if a man has a wife, but he dies without an heir, she must marry his brother so that they can have a child to inherit the man's possessions. Sounds terrible to our modern ears, doesn't it?

But in the ancient agrarian world, it was practical and merciful. If a widow did not have any children from her first husband, then the land could be sold off, and she would be left destitute. By marrying her brother-in-law, she would be keeping the property (which she may have brought into the family) within the family. She and her family could lose the property if she married someone from the outside. The brother-in-law could refuse to marry her, but according to verses 7-10 she could go through a ceremony to publicly shame him into marrying her.

In marriage the woman would be financially secure and she would have children to take care of her in her old age. Sounds strange to us today, I know, but that was the "Social Security/Medicare" set-up of the ancient world.
But the InstaPundit comments section also contains information of interest.

Rancher Jack refers to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance to the Holy Bible with Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries while MITM attempts to explain "Turn the other cheek":
The key point [per one New Testament scholar] of turning the other cheek was that in order to strike you again that way, the striker had to treat you as a social equal, rather than as inferior. Thus Jesus, in suggesting this, was standing up for human dignity despite not hitting back, rather than advocating just taking whatever anyone felt like dishing out.
Meanwhile, Terentia picks a further handful of Bible verses to shed light upon:
"An eye for an eye" is not a prescription for revenge. It is a limitation on the fallen human propensity to up the ante. It is a prohibition on escalation.
Caesar is your master? Caesar isn't mine. I pay taxes but that doesn't make Caesar my master. 
Finally, 3Subject points out what is perhaps the main problem with Western leftists who, say, after an nth Islamist attack, hold that the main problem is religion in general and not Islam per se…
According to the Instapundit comments section (which is itself informed by the cottage industry devoted to "explaining" the "real" Islam), the Bible is a book that contains problematic passages that must be explained, historicized, and contextualized. The fact that most Christians don't act on the bizarre and sociopathic messages contained in the Bible is a sign of civilization and sophistication

The Qur'an, meanwhile, is viewed a quasi-magical text whose problematic passages utterly resist interpretation, historicization, and contextualization, and literally compel Muslims to commit violence. The fact that most Muslims don't act on the bizarre and sociopathic messages contained in the Qur'an is a sign that they're not "really" Muslims, or are secretly supporting the fanatics, or that they're engaging in "taqiyyah" while quietly working to undermine all that is right and good in the world.
What Does the Bible Say About Socialism?
Six Startling Contrasts Between the Bible and the Quran
Does the Bible Teach the Same Kind of 'Holy War' as the Quran?
How to Explain the Necessity of Jesus' Death to Muslims

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What big corporations hate is freedom of the individual conscience, internally governed families, and churches powerful enough to stand up to the make-believe righteousness of government decrees

Georgia state Senator William Ligon asks but does not answer a question on today's Wall Street Journal op-ed page 
writes Andrew Klavan (thanks to Ed Driscoll):
Why Are Companies Taking Sides Against Religious Liberty?” The question is raised by the ferocious corporate response to attempts in Georgia and other states to reinforce at the state level religious protections already guaranteed by federal law.

The New York Times, a former newspaper, has scurrilously and dishonestly labeled these "Anti-Gay Laws," because they would prevent priests and pastors from being forced to perform gay marriages against their faiths and consciences.

 … Apparently puzzled by all this, Ligon quotes a study showing "economic competitiveness is stronger in countries with fewer government restrictions on religious liberty."

But what on earth makes him think corporations are interested in competition? Corporations and other successful businesses love big government precisely because it stifles competition. The big guys can pay lawyers to cut through government red tape while the little guy with a better idea and a cheaper price is crushed beneath taxes and regulations.

What big corporations hate is freedom of the individual conscience, internally governed families, and churches powerful enough to stand up to the make-believe righteousness of government decrees. All of these things tend to generate independent action and thoughtful morality which can get in the way of profits. People who think for themselves and pray with others tend to be a little less quick to watch the latest soul-degrading film or half-time show or to buy a product simply because it's the going thing.

Freedom is good for business in general, but it is not good for an individual business that has already made it to the top. Where freedom and competition thrive, prices fall and good ideas rise. Where government coerces, where government pays the freight, where government grants you "rights" to the labor and products of others, prices soar and good ideas that threaten the status quo are trampled under and left behind.

Virtually every founding father declared that American-style freedom could not exist without true religion. "It is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand," as John Adams put it. As true religion fades, as families cease to operate as independent governing units, the power of the powerful to coerce grows stronger. And when the powerful can coerce the powerless, big business profits.

Thus the left — which always accomplishes exactly the opposite of what it says it intends — serves big business with its ethos of "inclusion," which is really an ethos of coercion in disguise. Of course corporations will fight to defend that. It's meat and potatoes to them.

Monday, April 11, 2016

MSM Cartoonist: Wouldn't We All Be Better Off If Men Stopped Acting Like Men?

Wiley Miller's Non Sequitur is far from unfunny, but it hardly veers from (self-serving) cultural PC concepts such as the idea that if only we could have less independent and more compliant men amongst our citizenry (those who act otherwise only encourage the wolves in our midst and/or turn out to be wolves themselves), society would move forward by leaps and bounds…