“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Who Caused the Housing Mess?

HT Charles


  1. If the premise of that video were correct - that foreclosed homes are the root cause of the problem - then the solution would be equally obvious; bailout the foreclosed homes. That would be much cheaper then what we are currently facing. It wouldn't work because, like the premise of that video, it is wrong. The problems are much more serious then that.

  2. Ash may be right. Seems to me that the problem now is the money lost in the derivatives market. But the money is not lost, it just exchanged hands. What bothers me is that no one wants to say exchanged hands between whom.

  3. Capital can be created and destroyed. It isn't a zero sum game. pooooffff, it's gone -- strange but true.

  4. Further to our discussion of Credit Default Swaps I came across this description from someone on the internet (He talks of how the credit rating gets transferred from one party to another with CDS's)

    "You are quite correct that most mortgages are not in default and the
    problem is declining valuations, but the bigger problem facing Wall
    Street is slightly more complex.

    Much of the highly leveraged dealing in the 'securities' made up of
    the mortgages is tied to insurance policies against the decline of
    their values. So-called 'credit default swaps':

    A leveraged trader (like Lehman or Bear Sterns) with moderate credit
    rating (say ABB) gets the financing (maybe $35 for every dollar they
    put up themselves) to swing huge deals in these bundled-mortgage
    securities (betting on their upside) by purchasing insurance policies
    against their own risk of defaulting on the loans they took out.
    Their lenders think they are covered (by the insurance company) in
    case the leveraged trading company goes belly up and everything looks

    The high 'rating' of the insurance company (maybe AAA) thus
    substitutes the low 'rating' of the risky (and really lower rated)
    leveraged trading outfit (a 'credit default swap'). But the whole
    thing comes apart if the securities' valuations decline and the
    leveraged traders starting losing even a little. That potentially
    triggers the insurance against their default to pay off. But WAY too
    many of those insurance policies were 'sold' (for fat fees by, for
    example, AIG) to cover all the potential policy payouts all at once.
    They never figured it could happen: What? Real estate go DOWN? That
    could *never* happen...

    Any failure to make good to the leveraged trading company's lenders
    triggers a reduction in the insurance company's own rating and makes
    the loans to the leveraged traders 'callable' by their lenders who no
    longer recognize the insurance as a valid coverage because the
    insurance company no longer has a high enough rating in the 'risk
    model'. That potentially triggers a circular firing squad of
    billionaires, which may sound like a happy sight but carries risks
    that all credit will disappear. And that is what we are facing. And
    that's why AIG was rescued.

    The money never really existed (it was borrowed with 'insurance' it
    would be repaid, but the insurance companies could never cover a 'run'
    to begin with and their 'ratings' were figments of the lenders'
    imaginations). None of these companies in the 'shadow banking system'
    were subject to any regulation. But a lot of rich fools with more
    political connections than brains bet on these unreal 'investments'
    (lenders to the leveraged trading companies, the insurers, ...) and as
    the totally imaginary 'swaps' unravel they are now in *very real* (and
    very deep) doo-doo.

    We've been here before but the protections against a repeat were
    dumped in the 'free-market deregulation' mania of the last 25 years.
    Tonight Washington Mutual vanished and there's more coming... hold
    onto your hats, it's going to be a wild ride.


  5. Capital can be created and destroyed. It isn't a zero sum game. pooooffff, it's gone -- strange but true.

    Yes. But from my understanding the derivatives market IS a zero sum game.

  6. Credit Default Swaps: Evolving Financial Meltdown and Derivative Disaster Du Jour

    by Dr. Ellen Brown
    Global Research, April 11, 2008

    If there are no rules, the players can cheat; and cheat they have, with a gambler's addiction. In December 2007, the Bank for International Settlements reported derivative trades tallying in at $681 trillion - ten times the gross domestic product of all the countries in the world combined. Somebody is obviously bluffing about the money being brought to the game, and that realization has made for some very jittery markets.

    I think the best way to gain control of these instruments is to tax them. Tax the money as capital. Tax it again when capital gains occurs. And then tax it again as a service transaction. That will put some rationality back in this game.

  7. Another way to address the problem would be to require the contracts made to be public (possibly through and exchange) and require adequate capital reserves by the 'insurer'. Currently neither of these things happen.

  8. This nonsense is totally unnecessary, and Anti-Capitalist.

    There is no "Lack of liquidity." There is a refusal of bankrupt compnies like WAMU to admit that they're bankrupt.

    Once they admit their situation there is plenty of liquidity. They got WAMU's deal done in a few minutes with a handful of phone calls. There were, at least, 3 other bidders.

    Ask one of the cocksuckers on wall street what capitalism is, and he'll tell you it's "your Right to go bankrupt, and feel pain;" But it's "his right" to a government handout.

  9. More on Wamu [Rich Lowry]

    Here from WSJ:

    The failure of WaMu eclipsed what had long been America's largest bank bust on record, the 1984 collapse of Continental Illinois, which had $40 billion in assets.

    The fact that no bank was willing to buy WaMu until it failed shows how badly confidence has eroded in a banking system awash with record profits just a few years ago. Faced with deepening losses on mortgages, credit cards and other loans, big and small banks across the country are struggling with what many bank executives say is a crisis far deeper than the savings-and-loan debacle.

    The seizure of Washington Mutual is likely to send tremors through the thrift industry. Many of WaMu's smaller brethren are also struggling with a wave of bad loans and some have already been ordered by regulators to raise capital and stop growing. Many community and regional financial institutions are also slashing dividends, selling branches and reining in lending in order to preserve capital.

    Lowry's RUMINT: House Republicans are becoming afraid of being branded as mid-crisis obstructionists and calls to same are starting to express economic worry.

    (Funny image: Paulson making all those calls from phone booths around the District, at points imitating a Savannah housewife and a Jersey Shore car mechanic.)

  10. I agree rufus that the necessity is the mother of invention. There also appears to be a difference between and orderly wind-down and a dis-orderly wind-down.

    I curious as the the details of the Wa-Mu deal. The FDIC was facing 'bankruptcy' due to its obligations if Wa-MU went under. The bank was seized by the Feds then "virtually all of it" sold to JPMorgan while the board at Wa-MU had no idea what was going on. I wonder what JPMorgan didn't buy in the deal. I better get a tin-foil hat and store in closet just in-case a Skull and Boner lurks in the deal.

  11. Trish,

    One broker buddy I was talking to a month ago said their bank research was indicating about 100 bank failures in the US. I saw a report somewhere with 117 listed as suspect.

    Seems there are a few problems still to deal with.

  12. The problem, ash, is the signal-to-noise ratio. Is it a manufactured crisis? No, I don't think so. Are the causes, ancillary issues, and remedies matters of protracted controversy, serious confusion, and bitter contention? Yes. Would these be fundamentally resolved if we had a year to hash it out? No.


    The Revival of Small-Government Conservatism?

    posted by Michael D. Tanner

    For nearly eight years, Republicans either looked the other way (or greedily joined in) as the Bush administration increased the size, cost, and intrusiveness of government. The largest increase in domestic discretionary spending since the Great Society, a massive new entitlement program, greater federal control over education — big-government conservatism was on the march with barely a squeak of protest.

    But in proposing a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street, the Bush administration may finally have found the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. It is years overdue, but congressional Republicans are finally learning to say “no.” And its not just the usual advocates of limited government like Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) who are outraged by the biggest government intervention in our economy since FDR. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), who acquiesced to — even twisted arms to push through — every big-government proposal that the Bush administration wanted, has suddenly found a spine. Even such go-along, get-along Republicans as Sens. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Jim Bunning (R-TN) have not been able to swallow this one. To hear Sen. Bunning describe the administration’s proposal as “socialism” is, well, amazing.

    Meanwhile, grass-roots activists and talk radio are in open rebellion. People are actually suggesting that government isn’t the solution, government is the problem. How long has it been since we’ve heard that around this town?

    The Bush administration will probably succeed in pushing through their proposal. But if the bailout succeeds in finally reigniting the fires of small-government conservatism, it may be worth the price.

    posted by Michael D. Tanner on 09.26.08 @ 11:00 am

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. 1995 Redux? [Rich Lowry]

    A friend on Capitol Hill in a very dark mood thinks so. Last time, House Republicans got blamed for shutting down the government, this time they'll get blamed for shutting down the financial system. He also worries—did I mention he's in a dark mood?—that if nothing passes and the crash comes, the country may arrive at a turning point, moving irrevocably in the direction of a social democracy.

    09/26 01:04 PM

  15. social democracy

    What's a social democracy?

  16. ...a cocktail party for democrats?

  17. Newsflash....

    Israel just launched a preemptive attack on Iran, Syria & Hezbollah...

    News reports are coming in that Iran's 3 major oil refineries are burning, over 75 hardened sites have been hit, apparently the sa300's the Russians sold Iran were worthless. All 3 nation's power grids and generation plants are destroyed, as are all major fuel depots.

    In response, Syria and Hizbollah attempted to light up the skies with long and medium range rockets, only to be amazed at what IDF cluster bombs can do to you when applied to live targets, reports from the scene are developing...

    Apparently bunkers storing iranian funded, syrian supplied, russian rockets, missiles & ammo went up, as one reporter said, like "chinese firecrackers inside a butcher shop"

    At 1st glance we have counted 500 syria tanks burning on the golan plains, just outside of damascus.

    Reports from Israel states that they expect thousands of short range rockets to be fired by Hamas and Hezbollah's. The IDF already has cleared procedures to rapid fire
    respond to any and all rocket fire. Although this action will actually kill people would physically are around these launching sites, all bets are off and war has arrived.

    Power water and supplies to the Gaza strip are being cut as a complete separation with Gaza are being implemented. Israel fighter bombers have hit the border fence separating the artificial border of rafah...

    It is reported than 10's of thousand of arabs are streaming into the sinai seeking refuge.

    In a strange story of the day, over 5000 arabs in arab east jerusalem has staged a protest, declaring that they do NOT wish to ever be re-united with any Palestinian Goverened State.

    Reports are coming in that the IDF is successfully using cluster bombs and napalm on wide areas of southern lebanon, killing 100's if not thousands of armed hezbollah fighters, The government of Lebanon denies the claim that any armed fighters are within 20 miles of the Israeli-Lebanese border. But reports on the scene are clear, screaming and aflame Hezbollah fighters are streaming out of bunkers....

    or we can just put a bullet in Mr Dinnerjacket's head....

  18. Fundamentally speaking, it's about what we've had since TR.

  19. ...a cocktail party for democrats?

    Sounds like Wall Street.

  20. Wiki:

    Social democracy is a political ideology that emerged in the late 19th century out of the socialist movement.[1] Modern social democracy advocates the formation of a democratic welfare state that incorporates both capitalist and socialist practices.[2] This is unlike socialism in the traditional sense, which aims to end the predominance of the capitalist system, or in the Marxist sense, which aims to replace it entirely. Instead, social democrats aim to reform capitalism democratically through state regulation and the creation of programs and organizations that work to ameliorate or remove injustices they see in the capitalist market system. "Social democracy" is also used to refer to the particular kind of society that social democrats advocate. While some consider social democracy a moderate type of socialism, others, defining socialism in the traditional or Marxist sense, reject that designation.

    Social democratic parties initially advocated socialism in the strict sense, achieved by class struggle as defined by the Orthodox Marxists within or affiliated with the Social Democratic Party of Germany: August Bebel, Eduard Bernstein, Friedrich Engels, Karl Kautsky and Wilhelm Liebknecht.[1] Schisms within the party during the early 20th century led to the desertion of the revolutionary socialists, and the primacy of Bernstein's evolutionary or reformist democratic path for social progress within the social democratic movement.[1] Throughout Europe, a number of other socialist parties simultaneously rejected revolutionary socialism, and the followers of these movements ultimately came to identify themselves as social democrats or democratic socialists. Consequently, while social democrats share many views with the democratic socialists, they often differ on specific policy issues. The two movements sometimes share political parties, such as the British Labour Party in the 1980s, and the Brazilian Workers' Party today.[3]

    One way to delineate between social democratic parties (or movements) and democratic socialist ones is to think of social democracy as moving left from capitalism and democratic socialism as moving right from Marxism: in other words, a mainstream leftist party in a state with a market economy and a mostly middle class voting base might be described as a social democratic party, while a party with a more radical agenda and an intellectual or working class voting base that has a history of involvement with further left movements might be described as a democratic socialist party.[4] However, this is not always the case. The British Labour Party charter identifies the party as a "democratic socialist party,"[5] even though the current and former leader, Gordon Brown[6] and Tony Blair,[7] identify themselves as social democrats.

  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. This is the first summary Ive seen of what the repubs are requesting:

    from Power Line:

    there has never been a time when House Republicans have been on board with the Paulson bailout plan. Minority Leader John Boehner appointed a working group headed by Rep. Eric Cantor to craft a set of "economic rescue principles" that should be reflected in any emergency program adopted by Congress. Last night, the working group articulated this set of principles:

    Common Sense Plan to Have Wall Street Fund the Recovery, Not Taxpayers

    • Rather than providing taxpayer funded purchases of frozen mortgage assets, we should adopt a mortgage insurance approach to solve the problem.

    • Currently the federal government insures approximately half of all mortgage backed securities. (MBS) We can insure the rest of current outstanding MBS; however, rather than taxpayers funding insurance, the holders of these assets should pay for it. Treasury Department can design a system to charge premiums to the holders of MBS to fully finance this insurance.

    Have Private Capital Injection to the Financial Markets, Not Tax Dollars

    • Instead of injecting taxpayer capital into the market to produce liquidity, private capital can be drawn into the market by removing regulatory and tax barriers that are currently blocking private capital formation. Too much private capital is sitting on the sidelines during this crisis.

    • Temporary tax relief provisions can help companies free up capital to maintain operations, create jobs, and lend to one another. In addition, we should allow for a temporary suspension of dividend payments by financial institutions and other regulatory measures to address the problems surrounding private capital liquidity.

    Immediate Transparency, Oversight, and Market Reform

    • Increase Transparency. Require participating firms to disclose to Treasury the value of their mortgage assets on their books, the value of any private bids within the last year for such assets, and their last audit report.

    • Limit Federal Exposure for High Risk Loans: Mandate that the GSEs no longer securitize any unsound mortgages.

    • Call on the SEC to audit reports of failed companies to ensure that the financial standing of these troubled companies was accurately portrayed.

    • Wall Street Executives should not benefit from taxpayer funding.

    • Call on the SEC to review the performance of the Credit Rating Agencies and their ability to accurately reflect the risks of these failed investment securities.

    • Create a blue ribbon panel with representatives of Treasury, SEC, and the Fed to make recommendations to Congress for reforms of the financial sector by January 1, 2009.

  23. or we can just put a bullet in Mr Dinnerjacket's head....

    Fri Sep 26, 01:51:00 PM EDT

    Who's "we," kemosabe?

    Wouldn't nobody be gettin' topcover for that one.

  24. Now all we need is a vetting of THAT plan.

  25. Who's "we," kemosabe?

    Wouldn't nobody be gettin' topcover for that one.

    I'd put a fatwa on his butt..

    Offer 200 Million to anyone or group who takes him out....

  26. Re: Deal or No Deal? [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

    My sense is that that's exactly what minority leadership is trying to do — get insurance and "some free market" in there, as one aide put it, before the markets open Monday.

    09/26 02:05 PM

  27. Offer 200 Million to anyone or group who takes him out....

    Fri Sep 26, 02:48:00 PM EDT

    S'against the law.

    Don't know about the Israelis or anybody else with an axe to grind. Maybe shop that around.

    Then you only have the rest of the friggin' country to worry about. No sweat. Hire A LOT of shooters.

  28. S'against the law.

    So are lots of things, including MOST of what goes on in Washington. So what? That's what lawyers are for.

  29. Then you only have the rest of the friggin' country to worry about.

    What country are you talking about? That patchwork of ethnic territories held together by CIA installed farsi speaking jihadi imperialists?

  30. Ah, finally it's come clear to me. Foreclosures aren't any part of the problem. Now I get it.

  31. Ouch.

    Let me be more explicit: Heads of state specifically and government ministers generally are an automatic no-go. In addition to being against the law. How's that?

  32. trish said...

    s'against the law.

    Is it? Then explain how legally Iran can offer fatwa's on others lives?


    I do not wish to tie my hands behind my back to fight someone who already has murdered hundreds of my fellow Americans, this "man" is a legal, fair target to be killed on the spot outside of the USA.

    Don't know about the Israelis or anybody else with an axe to grind. Maybe shop that around.

    Then you only have the rest of the friggin' country to worry about. No sweat. Hire A LOT of shooters.

  33. trish said...

    Let me be more explicit: Heads of state specifically and government ministers generally are an automatic no-go. In addition to being against the law. How's that?

    when mr dinnerjacket held our americans for 444 days, he lost immunity

  34. "I do not wish to tie my hands behind my back to fight someone who already has murdered hundreds of my fellow Americans, this "man" is a legal, fair target to be killed on the spot outside of the USA."

    Under *our* law, mat, he is not a fair target.

    Now, if you want to take that matter up with the management, a concise, polite hand written letter is always the way to go.

  35. Israel asked US for green light to bomb nuclear sites in Iran
    US president told Israeli prime minister he would not back attack on Iran, senior European diplomatic sources tell Guardian

    Israel gave serious thought this spring to launching a military strike on Iran's nuclear sites but was told by President George W Bush that he would not support it and did not expect to revise that view for the rest of his presidency, senior European diplomatic sources have told the Guardian.

    The then prime minister, Ehud Olmert, used the occasion of Bush's trip to Israel for the 60th anniversary of the state's founding to raise the issue in a one-on-one meeting on May 14, the sources said. "He took it [the refusal of a US green light] as where they were at the moment, and that the US position was unlikely to change as long as Bush was in office", they added.

    The sources work for a European head of government who met the Israeli leader some time after the Bush visit. Their talks were so sensitive that no note-takers attended, but the European leader subsequently divulged to his officials the highly sensitive contents of what Olmert had told him of Bush's position.

    Bush's decision to refuse to offer any support for a strike on Iran appeared to be based on two factors, the sources said. One was US concern over Iran's likely retaliation, which would probably include a wave of attacks on US military and other personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as on shipping in the Persian Gulf.

    The other was US anxiety that Israel would not succeed in disabling Iran's nuclear facilities in a single assault even with the use of dozens of aircraft. It could not mount a series of attacks over several days without risking full-scale war. So the benefits would not outweigh the costs.


  36. Dang, you learn something every day. Appleseed Was A Swedenborgian

    maggie's farm

  37. Sorry, what-is. I meant you of course.

  38. Swedenborg was alunching one day at the Queen's Retreat in northern Sweden, when he fell into a trance. A fire, a fire in Stockholm! Yes, yes, it's getting closer to my home, closer....ah, ah, it has stopped just short, but much damage around Stockholom. He reported all this to the Queen and Court.

    Well, glory be, when Swedish Express horse and rider arrived from the south with the news, surenuff, it had been just as it was in his vision.

    As for Appleseed, he would be immune to today's market meltdown, with earth for a bed and sky for a blanket.

  39. Like Blake, Swedenborg could converse, or blog if you like, with the inhabitants of the other world.

    What this world needs is more men like Blake, Appleseed and Swedenborg.

    Then, we'd be getting somewhere.

  40. Blake/Appleseed/Swedenborg for Triumvirate!

  41. OT: An analogous system is in effect with the US financial markets:

    This comes from freerepublic--as does the comment:

    Some Jihadistas blow up.

    This wasn't a result of Allied counter-battery fire. First, counter battery isn't that dead-on accurate even with the latest back azimuth radar firing solution computers and second, the return fire would have been a hell of a lot more powerful than what you saw erase that jihadi. They fire an 81mm mortar at us, they get a 155mm back. The camera footage wouldn't have survived.

    This was a tube detonation as the result of improperly stored mortar rounds. The explosive inside the round is like a waxy paste like Turtle Wax auto polish. Over time, the explosive can develop cracks in the 'wax' composite explosive slurry just like you'd find opening an old can of Turtle Wax that had been left in the corner of your garage for a year after alternately baking a freezing through the seasons.

    You drop a round like that down the tube and the kinetic force of the propellant pushing the round out can cause the imperfections in the explosive mixture to self-detonate.

    That's why the NATO X-rays every mortar round our member nations make to check for air bubbles and imperfections at the time of manufacture and USMC/USN/US Army ammo technicians have strict chains of custody and storage procedures for our ammo dumps. High explosives have expiration dates, just like milk.

    Those jihadis don't have that luxury and they pay the price for it.

    MORAL OF THE STORY: Don't be careless with high explosives. Blow your flippin' head off, man.

  42. Immanuel Kant and Swedenborg in Germany

    (First published in Outlook No. 53)

    The main limiting factor in the recognition in Germany of Swedenborg seems to have
    been the impression made by the philosopher Kant’s book ‘Dreams of a Spirit Seer’
    published in 1766. In this book, he is dismissive of Swedenborg’s claim to direct
    knowledge of the spiritual world and heaven and hell
    , and it has been suggested by
    more than one authority that Kant’s ‘Dreams...’ prevented a more open discussion in
    Germany of Swedenborg’s teachings for more than two centuries.
    Nevertheless, in the opinion of some scholars (including Dr.Gregory Johnson, who
    wrote a commentary on ‘Dreams...’ as his PhD thesis), the book is not so much
    hostile as ambiguous and ironic, and contrasts with more favourable opinions of
    Swedenborg expressed at other times.

    For instance, in a letter to Charlotte von Knobloch, a member of the Russian
    nobility, Kant wrote: “The following occurrence appears to me to have the greatest
    weight of proof, and to place the assertion respecting Swedenborg’s extraordinary gift
    beyond all possibility of doubt.”
    He then goes on to recount the story of how
    Swedenborg described a great fire taking place at Stockholm, 300 miles away, as it
    was happening. He also gives her two other accounts testifying to Swedenborg’s communication
    with the spiritual world - one involving the Queen of Sweden, the other a
    Madame Marteville. Kant had been very careful to establish the authenticity of these

    Twenty years after ‘Dreams...’ was published, once again we find Kant expressing
    a different view from that in his book. In a lecture in 1788 on Metaphysics, he stated:
    “It is true that this view of the other world cannot be proved, but it is a necessary
    hypothesis of reason. Swedenborg’s thought on this subject is very sublime. He
    (This is followed by an outline of Swedenborg’s teaching on the spiritual

    Despite the adverse affect of ‘Dreams...’, we find that no less a writer than Goethe,
    generally considered the founder of modern German literature, was influenced by
    Swedenborg to a considerable extent. His masterpiece, ‘Faust’, is the work in which
    Swedenborgianism finds its fullest expression according to many authorities. A
    number of passages in this work show this influence and have been related by
    scholars to corresponding teachings in Swedenborg. Goethe was introduced to
    Swedenborg’s writings by Fraulein von Klettenberg and the poet Herder, and
    purchased a German translation of one of his works, and was a reader for some years
    in the 1770s.

    In a letter to Herder in 1773, he refers to Swedenborg as “the honoured seer of our
    time” and “the learned thinking theologue and world prophet”. In a letter to Lavater in
    1781, he wrote: “I have enough poetical and life-power to feel even my own limited
    self expanding into a Swedenborgian spirit-universe”.

    Other notable German writers influenced by Swedenborg include the poet
    Friedrich Klopstock, who, incidentally, paid him a visit in Gothenburg, Johann
    Herder, the critic and poet already mentioned, the philosophers Heinrich Heine,
    Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich von Schelling. (See book ‘Schelling and
    Swedenborg’, Swedenborg Foundation, 1997.)

    It is also interesting to find that Swedenborg influenced to some considerable
    extent the trio of twentieth-century composers noted for developing the twelve-tone
    system of musical composition, Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg and Anton von

    In a celebrated lecture in 1941 on ‘Composition with Twelve Tones’, Schoenberg
    explained the basis for this new conception. He stated that “...the unity of musical
    space demands an absolute and unitary perception. In this space, as in Swedenborg’s
    heaven (described in Balzac’s ‘Seraphita’) there is no absolute down, no right or left,
    no forward or backward”.
    According to ‘Grove’s Dictionary’, at one time Schoenberg “contemplated writing
    an oratorio based on the vision of Swedenborg’s heaven”. This was to have been a
    stage-work lasting three evenings, based on Balzac’s Swedenborgian novel

    Webern’s high assessment of Swedenborg is shown in a letter to Schoenberg in
    1913, when he wrote: “I am now reading Swedenborg. It takes my breath away. It is
    incredible. I had expected something colossal, but it is even more”. Webern went on
    to write a play ‘Dead, Six Tableaux for the Stage’, which included in Scene six a long
    quotation from Swedenborg’s ‘True Christian Religion’. He sent it to Schoenberg,
    who wrote that he found the play “wonderful” in parts but queried the inclusion of
    such a long verbatim quote from Swedenborg, but Webern wrote back defending its
    inclusion, since it bore out so perfectly everything that he himself had tried to express
    in the first five scenes!
    In ‘A Concise History of Modern Music’ by Paul Griffiths (Thames & Hudson,
    1978), we are informed that Alban Berg “planned a symphony with a Swedenborgian
    finale”, but this was not carried out, and he wrote the opera ‘Wozzeck’ instead. It is
    quite amusing to read in one of his letters: “The best way to prepare black pudding is
    this: cut it raw in slices, and only fry it then. It’s heavenly... I would simply call it Pud
    à la Swedenborg.” (Alban Berg - ‘Letters to his Wife’, Faber & Faber, 1971).

    But what of organised Swedenborgianism in Germany ? The first conference of
    Swedenborgians was held in Stuttgart in 1848, but the main interest has been in
    Berlin, and the Berlin Swedenborg Centre celebrated its centenary a few years ago.
    Groups were established in Bochum, Stuttgart and Dresden, but suffered repression
    under the Nazis. The Gestapo put a stop to the founding of a Swedenborgian
    Association, for which two thousand individuals had applied. Nonetheless, before the
    beginning of the Second World War, circles had formed in East Prussia, Hamburg and
    Wurttemberg. Since the war, a Swedenborgian organisation has commenced in the
    Charlottenberg district, and in the 1990s a group was formed in North Germany and
    in 1998 a group was established in Moos-Weiler.
    Gordon Jacobs

  43. That's cropped up at Drudge a couple of times, I think, ash.

    The UK press is a giant tabloid when it comes to Israel.

    But that Bush would not sanction any plan of that sort, is quite right.

  44. "When, for instance, the vision arose in Swedenborg's mind of a fire in Stockholm, there was a real fire raging there at the same time, without there being any demonstrable or even thinkable connection between the two. I certainly would not like to undertake to prove the archetypal connection in this case. I would only point to the fact that in Swedenborg's biography there are certain things which throw a remarkable light on his psychic state. We must assume that there was a lowering of the threshold of consciousness which gave him access to "absolute knowledge." The fire in Stockholm was, in a sense, burning in him too." (Carl Jung in Synchronicity, 1960)

    Swedenborg, The Fire of Stockholm, The Assassination of the Czar, and Sundry Other Matters

  45. bobal said...

    Like Blake, Swedenborg could converse, or blog if you like, with the inhabitants of the other world.
    Jesus was in this world but not of it. Christians are in this world but not of it. To be a christian you have to believe that Jesus is both fully God and Fully Man. By doing so you get access to God.

    The belief that Jesus is both fully God and Fully Man is at the heart of Christianity.
    But Christianity is not alone in having a paradox at its heart.
    Curiously according to Wikipedia.....

    Schrödinger's cat is a thought experiment, often described as a paradox, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. It illustrated what he saw as the problem of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics being applied to everyday objects, in the example of a cat that might be alive or dead, depending on an earlier random event.

    In Schrödinger’s original thought experiment he describes how one could, in principle, transform a superposition inside an atom to a large-scale superposition of a live and dead cat by coupling cat and atom with the help of a ‘‘diabolical mechanism.’’ He proposed a scenario with a cat in a sealed box, where the cat's life or death was dependent on the state of a subatomic particle. According to Schrödinger, the Copenhagen interpretation implies that the cat remains both alive and dead until the box is opened.

    Schrödinger did not wish to promote the idea of dead-and-alive cats as a serious possibility; quite the reverse: the thought experiment serves to illustrate the bizarreness of quantum mechanics and the mathematics necessary to describe quantum states.
    Get that? I surely only understand superficially. But I believe. Most people who discount Christianity Believe what they don't understand about quantum mechanics instantly.

    I believe Jesus too but unlike quantum mechanics belief in Jesus is a saving faith.


    By Stefan Kanfer (bio)

    In eight years Ralph Nader has gone from gadfly to a man reminiscent of those street corner whackos who seem to be speaking loudly into a cell phone—until you realize they have no cell phone.

    Back in 1996, Nader may well have siphoned off votes from Al Gore, thereby ensuring the election of George W. Bush. But in 2008, as he announces his third-party candidacy for presidency of the United States, the only response he gets is a collective yawn.

    As he yammers to himself, this author/politician/kvetch/bore no longer looks like a mover and shaker. In fact, every day he comes more and more to resemble an anti-capitalism crank who believes in the socialism of fools—or, not to put too fine a point on it, anti-Semitism.

    Naturally, Nader denies Jew-hatred. Indeed, he gets on his high horse when the accusation is hurled at him. He is against Zionism, he protests, not Jews per se.

    But his statements give him the lie. The Israelis, he claims, went “beyond the 1967 borders in order to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people.”

    He means, of course, the Palestinians.

    But in 1967 the Jewish State (in other words, for Naderites, a state run by Jews) was attacked by five separate Arab armies. Their aim was not to drive the Jews who were living in Israel back to the agreed-upon borders.

    The Jews were already at those borders.

    No, the intent of the Arabs was to kill Jews with bullets and bombs, or by driving them into the sea where they would drown—every last man, woman and child.

    Humiliation of the Jews was on the minds of the Arab leaders, not the other way around, and their failure to do so wrankles to this day.

    What to do about it? Well, in the Middle East there are rockets, suicide bombers and ongoing terrorism to carry on Hitler’s work.

    And in America there are propagandists who willingly carry the bedpans for the Islamic militants. Pat Buchanan, for example, who believes that there is an “Amen Corner” (read Jewish neocons) who drive American policy and make it friendly to Israel.

    And Ralph Nader, who, according to the Jerusalem Post, once had his spokesman address the ongoing Palestinian—Israeli problem: “No diplomatic plan can be acceptable unless it allows for the right of return for Palestinian refuges and a full Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders.”

    That’s the bomb-less method of getting rid of Jews. Just cede the land to their enemies, who will outpopulate them, outvote them, and eventually rid the Middle East of the people whose literacy, cultural refinement, scientific advancement, medical achievement and military power stands as an unbearable example to losers in the Middle East—and in the West.

    In another era, Nader’s hard-left advocacies might well disturb the sleep of decent folks. But this time around, he has another function. As Hillary and Obama, McCain and Huckabee trade jibes and accusations, he’s as effective as Lunesta. And better still, you don’t need a doctor’s prescription.

  47. Christ as fully man and fully God was a political decision.

    "Roman imperial practices viewed the emperor as a son of God who was divinized after death (or occasionally during his lifetime). At issue was whether Christ's divinity was like that of the emperor (who was a subordinate son of God) or something more.

    After weeks of intense debate, when the vote was taken, the bishops satisfied Constantine's demand for agreement, but they did so in a subversive way. Virtually unanimously, they jettisoned the iota and resolved that Christ was 'of the same substance' as God, rather than 'subordinate'. In affirming that Christ had this highest possible status, they gave themselves and every baptized Christian who shared in Christ's divinity greater spiritual power and authority than the unbaptised emperor Constantine. Keeping the iota would have made Jesus merely equal to the rulers of the very empire that had tried to destroy the church.

    It may seem that the church engaged in heated struggles over inconsequential doctrinal minutiae with only one iota of difference. In the ancient world, however, theology was always politics (and of course, it still is). The anti-iota stance would later ber called orthodox Nicene Christianity."

    from "Saving Paradise"

    Was he 'subordinate' to God (homo-i-ousios) or 'of the same substance' as God (homo-ousios)

    i = iota

    Or, so is the opinion of the ladies who wrote "Saving Paradise".


    "The conflict was unrelenting. One bishop complained that he could not even get his hair cut without having to listen to people in the barbershop argue about the nature of Christ's divinity. Cyril of Jerusaslem (c. 310-386) mentioned-- in something of an understatement--that 'there is much controvery, and the strife is various in its forms.' The strife included riots in the streets of Alexandria and the lynching of a bishop. Constantine would waffle, and he eventually consented to baptism as an Arian on his deathbed. He set a precedent, both for the timing of baptism to protect the emperor from the authority of the bishop and for the persistance of the pesky iota, especially among the ruling classes. All his sons were Arians, and most emperors following Constantine were Arians..."

  48. Bobal

    Sounds like you have opened the box and discovered a dead cat.

    That's a start.

  49. This comment has been removed by the author.

  50. I like you Charles, but think you're wrong. As you think I am. But, we both agree, I hope, God is merciful.

    These ladies have written a fine book. In the early days, despite a politically astute majority vote at Nicea, Christianity wasn't so damned morbid.

  51. Charles' video is up at Drudge!

  52. The Obama campaign is a fraud. I ordered, and it was confirmed via e-mail, my Obama button three weeks ago--still nothing!

    Promises, promises, nothing but empty promises.

  53. The Clinton plan to ensure that John McCain gets elected began several weeks ago and will culminate in a public declaration by Bill Clinton in late October that he will be supporting John McCain.

    One Can Only Hope

    Good article, hope it's right.

  54. Cowardly Chimpy McShame Quits Debates

    John McShame has always been a quitter. He quit the Naval Academy to become a pilot. He went to Aviator School to learn to fly a fighter plane, then he quit flying just to lounge around a hotel in Hanoi for five years. He quit soaking up the hospitality of the Vietnamese People and came back to the states, where he quit his wife and family. Then in 1981, he up and quit the military to become Senator of Arizona. This year, he decided to quit being a senator and run for peeResident. Now, surprise! suprise!, he's announced that he's quitting the presidential debates, claiming that the American People need their elected leaders to be in Washington right now, working out a deal to save our ailing economy.

    Wrong again, Chimpy McShame! What the American People need right now is leadership! What the American People need is to gaze upon the angelic visage of Barack Obama and know that everything's going to be alright. Their mortages being forclosed, their jobs being shipped overseas, and their health care costs going through the roof, the American People yearn to tune into the television Friday night and have a politician telling them exactly what they want to hear, yet saying nothing. Obama's been doing just that since the start of his campaign. He means to do it tomorrow night as well, whether the coward McShame decides to show up, or not.

    Lawrence "Liberal Larry" Chomstein was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    "Having grown up in the capitol of greed and decadence, I have a unique perspective on the conservative mind, if there is such a thing."

    Larry cut his progressive teeth at UC Berkeley, where he majored in Greco-Roman Sexual Positions and Interpretive Clog Dancing. He obtained his Masters in Gender Studies at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where he organized the school's first Free Mumia March to a nearby Starbuck's.

  55. Is he the guy that wrote the masterpiece "Greed vs. Fear, and Loathing and Hookers In Las Vegas", Mat?

  56. I doubt it, Bob. But now you piqued my interest. I'll be looking into that.

  57. Senator Kyl and others assured Hewitt the whole ACORN flap was bogus from the begining.

    Congressman John Campbell just reported the Barney and the Boys ARE PUSHING FOR 20% for them and others.
    Doesn't think Pelosi will risk having only Democrats vote for it.
    (Now that Our Side has made it so visible.)

  58. "We've been here before but the protections against a repeat were
    dumped in the 'free-market deregulation' mania of the last 25 years.
    Tonight Washington Mutual vanished and there's more coming... hold
    onto your hats, it's going to be a wild ride.

    etc etc

    Leaving totally out of the equation the Corrupt Democrats DEMANDING under threat of law that companies ignore good lending practices.
    Corrupting Freddie and Fannie for personal gain, growing them in the process to a size gauranteed to destroy THE FREE MARKET SYSTEM.


    Fuck you and the liars and crooks you defend, Ashley.

  59. Mat, I was just making a play on "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter Thompson, and your guy being raised in Vegas, and Thompson's 'chimpy' swinging around in Circus, Circus Casino, etc.
    Ash is an Amalekite, Doug, you have to remember that. Take that into consideration. His purpose is to strengthen your inner self. Has no purpose of his own.

  60. oh, I see, dougo, the Republicans are pure as the fresh fallen snow.

  61. Gov. Sarah Palin to be in Carson at Home Depot Center for rally ...
    Sarah Palin will be in Carson for a rally on Oct. 4 at the Home Depot ... Tickets are available by e-mailing

  62. Here we go. The big enchilada. It's show time...

  63. McCain killed Obama in round two.....geeezz

  64. McCain won.Pailin will get killed. jim Leherer did one hell of a job. McCain started slow but dominated in the last 2/3

  65. Krauthammer is on Fox and says that Obama will benefit because of a draw.

  66. obama did what he did with hillary

    restates what john/hillary says and agrees and slightly adds to it...

  67. I noticed that too, WiO.

  68. I doubt the debate changed many minds. I dread Pailin and Biden.

  69. Both get a failing grade, but Obama more so. Obama missed a great chance tonight.

    I think Obama could have turned on McCain and really discredited him by asking him point blank how is he going to finance the transition away from oil with a spending freeze, and without cutting the bloated military budget which accounts for 85% of Federal income receipts. Talking about $8 billion in wasteful earmarks spending, when $10 billion a month is wasted in Iraq and $1.4 trillion a year is spent on defense is joke. The real corruption is in the bloated military budget and these fake wars, and Obama needs to have the balls to say so.

  70. bobal said...

    But, we both agree, I hope, God is merciful.
    True. God is merciful. He is also just. How to reconcile justice and mercy? Jesus is the one who does it. No easy job. No mere man could do it.

    To think otherwise seriously underestimates just how holy God is.

    Besides if Jesus is just a man, all you have is a human sacrifice. That's seriously ghoulish. And there's the rub.

    The trouble with the Arian heresy is that all who believe it-- die in their sin. But first their churches die. Most churches in North Africa and the middle east were Arian at the time of Muhammed. They put up little resistance to Islam. It was the Arian churches in Spain that let in the Moors a century or so later. In the modern age -- the Arian heresy has been all the rage. The liberal churches in America are dying of it. The churches in Europe died of the Arian heresy generations ago.

    I've read the politics and the theology of the Nicean dispute.There are two Problems with Arius position. If you had not read the bible it should be enough to know that all the great christian theologins for 1700 years since the council of nicea have been aware of both the politics and the theology of the council of nicea. Yet everybody recites the Nicean creed. Everyone has come down on the side of the trinitarians.(except the now decaying unitarians, and yes too the mormans and the Jehovah witnesses)Christian theologins have disagreed on many issues but not on this one. The second problem with the Arian position is this: If you have done a thorough reading of the new testament--its clear that Jesus is both fully Human and fully God. ie the NT is full of references to both Jesus humanity and his divinity. The arians have just taken the references to Jesus humanity at face value but drained the references to Jesus divinity of meaning.

    A good primer on the NT can be found in Lee Strobel's book
    The Case For Christ.

  71. The trouble with the Arian heresy is that all who believe it-- die in their sin.

    Walt Whitman has died in his sin?

    Surely not.

    His friend Truabel commented on when he first realized Walt actually didn't have any anger in his whole being, it just wasn't there, missing.

    Some good books on the politics of the rise of what's called orthodoxy have been written by Elaine Pagels.

    Hope she doesn't die in her sins.

  72. Walt Whitman has died in his sin?

    Surely not.

    His friend Truabel commented on when he first realized Walt actually didn't have any anger in his whole being, it just wasn't there, missing.
    the want of anger is not a sign of grace.

    DH Lawrence -- no christian he -- characterized Whitman as a man with a broken inner spring.

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