Instapunk is a much better blog than its name suggests but it does have the peculiarity of no permalinks that I can find and hence, presumably, no archives. I was particularly interested in a transcript of Dec. 10th from a video by Andrew Klavan, a recent convert from Leftism to realism. Klavan says:
Shame and guilt and self-hatred are universal. Whether you chalk it up to original sin or to Oedipus or call it Jewish guilt or Catholic guilt or white guilt or black guilt, every single one of us knows he is not the person he was made to be. There are honest ways to confront that. You can kneel before God and pray for forgiveness and live in the joy of his love. Or you can drink heavily and make sardonic remarks until you destroy everyone you care about and then keel over dead – that’s honest too. But what a lot of people do is try to escape their sense of shame dishonestly by constructing elaborate moral frameworks that allow them to parade their virtue and their lavish repentance without any real inconvenience to themselves while simultaneously indulging in self-righteousness by condemning others for their impenitent evil. That’s the bad version of religion – the sort of religion Jesus came to dismantle. And that’s exactly the sort of religion leftism is: an elaborate system for hiding shame behind a cheap mask of virtue. That’s why they demonize any opposition. To them, we’re not just disagreeing with them, we’re threatening to tear off the mask of their virtue and reveal them to themselves.
I think that's a pretty good diagnosis of at least some Leftism but I think his initial generalization is far too broad: "Shame and guilt and self-hatred are universal". Really? Universal among leftists, maybe but I doubt that many lifelong conservatives are moved by such feelings. I certainly have never felt any such feelings and I pass as a pretty good conservative, I think. I am in fact perfectly happy with my life and have been as far back as I can remember. I was probably born that way. I have no tolerance for the many rogues of the world and do my best to expose them when and where I can but I certainly don't need that activity to feel good. Being a born academic, I would probably be just as happy studying medieval theology or learning more Latin. In fact I would rather do that but I think the world is in great danger from a resurgence of Leftism so I feel that I have to direct my energies to where they are most needed.
As I see it, conservatives are basically happy and contented people who are in fact far too tolerant of the Leftist crooks who wish them nothing but harm. When really pushed, conservatives do rise up but mostly they just want to get on with their own lives with as little interference from others as possible. And ideological Leftists (as distinct from the many ordinary sensible people who are duped into voting Leftishly on election day) hate that. They want everyone else to be as discontented and as miserable as they are. They need it for self-validation. They want us all to be ants in one big anthill, to paraphrase Hegel. They dislike individualism because they are not capable of it themselves. Marching along in lockstep with some current "consensus" is their thing. They seem to need that for a sense of security -- unlike us conservative "heretics". I say much more about all that here and here
I have finally found the permalink to the Instapunk posts. It is a tiny "bug" just before the word "Comments". So the permalink to the Klavan comments is this. The permalink to posts here is the timestamp, a longstanding system in blogspot blogs.
Obama finally got a few things right
Maybe he is learning on the job
President Obama displayed exceptional dignity and humility in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday in Oslo. He diplomatically but candidly acknowledged that grave doubts surrounded his worthiness of the award, having been nominated only a few days after his inauguration. He rightly said that “my accomplishments are slight” compared to past recipients, and he acknowledged that “there are men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in pursuit of justice” who are “far more deserving of this honor than I.”
The president further recognized the irony that just a few days earlier he had announced his decision to send 30,000 more U.S. troops to the war in Afghanistan and to ask the leaders of the 43 nations allied to our cause there to increase their contributions to the effort. In justifying the need to conduct war even as he accepted a prize for peace, Obama described the hard realities of the 21st century: “The world may no longer shudder at the prospect of war between two nuclear superpowers, but proliferation may increase the risk of catastrophe. Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.”
These observations herald the appearance of a more mature and reflective Obama who expected to reshape the office he now holds but finds that he is instead having to revise his understanding of what its duties require of him. So he reminded his worldwide audience that “a nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies … negotiations cannot convince al-Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms …the belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it.”
And, most important of all, he added this: “The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest — because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other people's children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.” Those are words of which every American can be proud.
by Rep. John Campbell (R-CA)
There have been a number of recent stories exposing the complete folly of the so-called "stimulus" plan and the number of jobs claimed to have been "created or saved" by this rapacious spending undertaken by the Obama Administration. Take for instance, the 935 jobs at the Southwest Georgia Community Action Council, the administration it claimed to have 'saved', even though they really only employ 508 people. Or how about the 129 jobs that were said to have been 'created' at a childcare center in Florida when the money was actually used for employee raises, and not new jobs.
Using these methods, in Obama speak, today I created or saved 3,000 calories towards my diet. Clearly, I could have eaten 300 more calories if I tried, but I "saved" those calories due to my stimulus plan. At this rate, I could lose 100,000 calories while still gaining weight! Now, that is Obamanomics.
Well, many have already become expert 'Obamanomists.' I asked some of my constituents in Orange County, CA for their experiences using 'Obamanomics,' and I recieved many good responses, but the one below is by far my favorite. I am interested in hearing your best example of 'Obamanomics.'
Using Obamamath, I've just saved, nay, created a great deal of money. How? I had wanted to buy a new Lamborghini Gallardo roadster so that I could drive to the White House to personally thank our beloved President for all that he is doing to save us from financial ruin. The trip, via New Orleans in order to view the results of former President Bush's failure to forestall Hurricane Katrina, would have been an approximately 6,000-mile roundtrip.
I didn't buy the Lamborghini, as it wasn't manufactured by Government Motors. I not only saved (created) some $243,000 (including tax) by not making this purchase, but I saved (created) an additional $1,500 by not purchasing fuel for the trip.
Since both the Gallardo and its fuel would have been imported, I'm sure that the Governmental Accountability Office would classify these as "green" savings. Thus by not buying a Lamborghini Gallardo, and not driving it to visit our President, I will have created a total of $244,500 in Green Savings. Not bad for an amateur!
But think for a moment: If each of the approximately 4 million families who live in Barack Obama's Illinois and Joe Biden's Delaware were to NOT buy a new Lamborghini, and NOT drive to the White House (via New Orleans), we would create an additional $1 trillion in new Green Wealth. Now that's Obamawealth with a vengeance!
The bailout that never ends
The $700 billion Wall Street bailout last year proved exceedingly unpopular with regular Americans. Nevertheless, House Democrats, with their tin ears to the ground, are looking to make bailouts the status quo by creating a permanent bailout fund.
The financial regulation bill cooked up by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the “Barney Bill,” offers a smorgasbord of bad policies that will affect every American. The Barney Bill is yet another leg of the Giant Government Takeover of major industries pushed through the House this year. If your appetite for bigger government wasn’t satiated by the Car Takeover (GM and Chrysler), the Energy Takeover (cap and trade) or the Health Care Takeover, Barney has something designed just for you: The Financial System Takeover.
There are many reasons to oppose the financial regulatory overhaul bill on the floor this week, but the major reasons are that it will further tighten credit, allow bureaucrats to chop up U.S. businesses they deem “too big,” cost consumers more and kill jobs.
When I operated my own business as a builder, I had to face tough and sometimes scary risks. I might leverage all I could to buy $3 million to $5 million worth of land and then face borrowing millions more for building costs. If there was a demand for my product, I could profit handsomely. If I failed miserably, I might lose not only my business but also everything I needed to provide for my family. I couldn’t risk my business or my family’s prospects on the mere hope of profit. I had to study. I had to hedge my bets.
That common-sense business model appears to be the “old way.” A permanent bailout fund sends the bigwigs on Wall Street a dangerous message: Take risks without consequences. It’s the truism of bailouts: Heads Wall Street wins, tails taxpayers lose.
The permanent bailout fund will hold $150 billion, raised from financial institutions with assets of more of $50 billion. This tax will affect approximately 30 banks, hitting each for about $4.5 billion, even though the majority of them played no role in the financial crisis and pose no threat to the system. Barney and his buddies will say this is merely a tax on Big Business meant to protect the American consumer.
That line of thinking should provoke laughter. These banks won’t just absorb a $150 billion loss. They’ll pass this cost along to everybody who uses a bank through higher fees and other costs. It’ll also mean removing those billions out of the marketplace; in other words, banks won’t have that money to lend to small businesses looking to expand or to cover their payroll. GOP members of the House Financial Services Committee say a tax this size could reduce overall lending by $55 billion and cause the loss of as many as 450,000 jobs.
The Barney Bill would further restrict credit by implementing a “credit czar.” The credit czar would determine what lending practices are acceptable and which aren’t. This effort to help the “little guy” will end up preventing the “little guy” from ever getting a loan. If banks can’t charge higher risk borrowers more, they just simply won’t make the loan (or they’ll charge the low-risk borrower more.)
The irony of these big government policies put forth by the Democrats is that they end up hurting most the people they are originally intended to aid.
When the government picks winners and losers, everybody loses. We have to restore the power of capital in capitalism. Businesses must succeed on their own – or be allowed to fail. Instead of a permanent bailout fund, we need a plan that permanently ends the Bailout Era and restores personal responsibility in our free markets.
What is Hanukkah?
by Paul Greenberg
This evening we light the first candle on the Hanukkah menorah, for it's the first night of this minor eight-day Jewish holiday that's become a major one over the years. There are blessings to be recited, songs to be sung, latkes to be eaten . . . . But just what does Hanukkah celebrate? Answer: A successful Jewish revolt against a Syrian empire ruled by the Seleucid dynasty of Greek kings some 2,200 years ago.
Well, not exactly. The revolt was not so much against the Syrian emperor, Antiochus Epiphanes, as against his attempt to impose Hellenistic culture on ancient Judaea.
Well, not exactly. It's not noised about, but this now-celebrated revolt against the Syrians was really something of a civil war between those Jews who proposed to adopt more of the fashionable Greek culture and those who rebelled against it. The rebels viewed its games and gods as a desecration, and fought for the old ways, the ancient practices and beliefs.
It may not be noised about in some politically correct circles, but this festival commemorates a military victory in a civil war -- of tradition over assimilation, of fundamentalism over modernism.
Well, not exactly. The military aspects of the struggle are scarcely mentioned in today's celebration of Hanukkah. The focus has shifted over the centuries. The very name Hanukkah, or Dedication, now refers to the cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem after it was defiled by pagan rites. After all, the holiday isn't named for any particular battle or campaign or hero. It isn't the Feast of the Maccabees, who led the revolt. Therefore the real theme of Hanukkah is the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem.
Well, not exactly. The essential ritual of the holiday has become the blessing over the Hanukkah lights. A talmudic story tells how the liberators of the Temple found only enough consecrated oil to burn for one day, but it lasted for eight -- enough time to prepare a new supply. We're really celebrating the miracle of the lights.
In the glow of the candles, the heroic feats of the Maccabees have become transmuted into acts of divine intervention. The blessing over the candles recited each night of the holiday goes: "Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old.'' Miracles, not victories.
At Passover, the story of the Exodus from Egypt is told with the same moral attached: It is He who delivered us, not we who freed ourselves. Freedom is a gift from God, not men.
Hanukkah isn't mentioned in the Old Testament. The swashbuckling stories of battles and victories have been relegated to the Apocrypha. A mere military victory rates only a secondary place in the canon. The victory is to be celebrated not for its own sake, but for what it reveals.
One more violent confrontation has left history, and entered the realm of the sacred. A messy little guerrilla war in the dim past of a forgotten empire has become something else, something that partakes of the eternal.
The central metaphor of all religious belief -- light -- reduces all the imperial intrigue and internecine warfare of those tumultuous times to shadowy details. And that may be the greatest miracle of Hanukkah: the transformation of the oldest and darkest of human activities, war, into a feast of illumination.
There is more than a single theme to this minor but not simple holiday. One can almost trace the ebbs and flows of Jewish history, its yearnings and fulfillments, its wisdom and folly, its holiness and vainglory, by noting which themes of Hanukkah have been emphasized when.
History may say a good deal more about the time in which it is written than the time it describes. The message of Hanukkah changes from age to age because the past we choose to remember is the truest reflection of any present. When Hanukkah is celebrated with pride, a fall is sure to come. When it inspires humility, hope is kindled.
If there is one, unchanging message associated with this minor holiday magnified by changing times, it can be found in the portion of the Prophets designated to be read for the sabbath of Hanukkah. It is Zechariah 4:1-7, with its penultimate verse: "Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts." Exactly.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)