“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."

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jesus and the bankers. “Then Jesus went into the Temple, threw out everyone who was selling and buying in the Temple, and overturned the moneychangers’ tables and the chairs of those who sold doves." Did that get him killed?

“21:12-17 Christ found some of the courts of the temple turned into a market for cattle and things used in the sacrifices, and partly occupied by the money-changers. Our Lord drove them from the place, as he had done at his entering upon his ministry, Joh 2:13-17. His works testified of him more than the hosannas; and his healing in the temple was the fulfilling the promise, that the glory of the latter house should be greater than the glory of the former. If Christ came now into many parts of his visible church, how many secret evils he would discover and cleanse! And how many things daily practised under the cloak of religion, would he show to be more suitable to a den of thieves than to a house of prayer!”

How could a country that once celebrated Easter and all the traditions surrounding it be the same country that now renounces the basic tenet of all human society, the marriage between one man and one woman? If the fundamental definition of marriage can be distorted beyond the recognition of what existed just a generation ago, what other fundamental belief is capable of withstanding a concerted assault?

The answer is none. The society and the country that you swore allegiance to since you were a child has gone. The temple of your fathers has been occupied.

Where is a Jesus when we need him?

I am not arguing for a society that neither changes nor forces its will and beliefs on others but there are limits. At a point you do cross the Rubicon.

Happy Easter.

This column by Pat Buchanan is apt:


By: Patrick J. Buchanan
3/29/2013 07:23 AM

“Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
So wrote Alexis de Tocqueville.
Yet, judged by the standards of those old “pulpits aflame with righteousness,” is America still a good country?
Consider the cases taken up this week by the Supreme Court.
In one, the court is asked to rule on California’s Proposition 8, where voters declared marriage to be solely between a man and a woman. In the second, the court is asked to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, which forbids federal support for same-sex marriages.
Whatever their beliefs, the justices, one trusts, will leave this to the states and people. For Roe v. Wade, where seven justices found the right to an abortion lurking in the penumbras of the Ninth Amendment, poisons our politics to this day. We don’t need a re-enactment of that civil war.
Still, what America decides about same-sex marriage will reveal much about what this generation believes to be a moral society.
Traditionalist America has always held homosexuality to be unnatural and immoral, ruinous to body and soul alike, and where prevalent — as in Weimar Germany — the mark of a sick society.
This belief outrages millions. Yet it is as old as mankind and was held universally in the Christian West until this century. Moreover, it is grounded in biblical truth, tradition, natural law and Catholic doctrine.

Before 1973, the American Psychiatric Association regarded homosexuality as a mental disorder. Most states treated it as a crime.
The new morality argues thus:
For a significant slice of the population, homosexuality is natural and normal. They were born this way. And to deny homosexuals the freedom to engage in consensual sexual relations, or the right to marry, is bigotry as odious as was discrimination against black Americans.
Yet, though gospel to many, this belief has only the most shallow of religious, moral and philosophical roots. It seems grounded in a post-1960s ideology that holds that all freely chosen life-styles are equal, and to discriminate against any is the true social sin.

Needless to say, the traditional morality and the new morality are irreconcilable.
But if the new morality — that homosexuality is normal and same-sex marriage morally equal to traditional marriage — is true and valid, Frank Kameny was a prophet and Christianity is indictable for 2,000 years of ostracism, persecution and suffering imposed on homosexuals.

Or perhaps we believe that moral truth evolves — that, for example, adultery may be immoral for one generation, but not so for the next.
The issue here goes beyond what the court decides.
For even should the advocates of same-sex marriage prevail, their victory will not be accepted by believers in the traditional morality, but simply be seen as but another step in America’s descent down a slippery slope to hell.
Indeed, for millions of Americans, this society — which has eradicated Christianity from its pubic institutions and enshrined secularism in its place, which considers abortion a woman’s right, which is blase about 53 million unborn children destroyed since Roe, which puts homosexual liaisons on the same moral plane as matrimony — is a society that has lost its moral bearings and is rapidly losing its mind.
Which raises a serious separate issue.
If we Americans cannot even agree on what is right and wrong and moral and immoral, how do we stay together in one national family? If one half of the nation sees the other as morally depraved, while the latter sees the former as saturated in bigotry, sexism and homophobia, how do we remain one united nation and one people?
Today, half of America thinks the country some of us grew up in was bigoted, racist, homophobic and sexist, while the other half sees this morally “evolving” nation as a society openly inviting the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah and that is hardly worth preserving.
A common faith and moral code once held this country together. But if we no longer stand on the same moral ground, after we have made a conscious decision to become the most racially, ethnically, culturally diverse people on earth, what in the world holds us together?
The Constitution, the Bill of Rights?
How can they, when we bitterly disagree on what they say?
By throwing out the old morality and embracing a new morality on abortion and same-sex marriage, America tossed her sheet anchor into the sea. And from the turbulent waters we have entered — our illegitimacy rate is above 40 percent, and no Western nation has a birth rate that will keep its native-born alive in anything like the present numbers — America and the West may have set sail on a voyage from which there is no return.


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    1. As a senior citizen I can tell you for sure, the U.S. I grew up in, is definitely in a severe state of decline and with more evidence then there is time or space to depict.

      However, I can touch on a few basic problems that immediately come to mind. How about the absolutes that deal with morality, life, honesty and decency? Over the past fifty years, there seems to be considerable confusion over the fact that no one can tell the difference between right and wrong within our society.

      There appears to be little regard for life when a nation funds killing 53 million innocent babies within the womb and only God knows how many, after they are taken from the womb. This same mindset has progressed to the point, where euthanasia is being considered for those elderly citizens that are no longer useful to our nation. Our president suggests that they take a pill and be done with it.

      Lets talk about honesty and decency for a moment. How about the boys on Wall Street deliberately manipulating investors' money, in order to make those million dollar bonuses every year. How about the derivative scandals that caused the housing bubble to burst, defrauding millions and bringing about a stock market crash that this nation still has not recovered from. Still have not seen very many of those criminals brought to justice, have you?

      What about the outrageous national debt that legislators have placed on the U.S. citizens' backs and who refuse to stop spending, over and above that which the govt.. takes in on an annual basis? Their answer, is to tax even more (for those who pay taxes), so that they can spend more. Those legislators are the very same people, who are screaming about our nation going bankrupt, in order to justify even more taxes. They are also the same govt., leaders who are now talking about confiscating individual retirement accounts, in order to bolster the U.S. dollar that they have destroyed, by deliberate devaluation, to pay off just the interest on the debt they have accumulated through negligent spending.

      The absolutes that I spoke of earlier, have been replaced primarily by sensuality, which seems to eliminate any need or respect, for one's faith, moral character or traditional decency that this nation was once known for. Instead of our children being taught the 3 R's and our nations' history, they are being taught about sexual activity natural and unnatural, in our educational system, starting from pre-school up and through college. In the process we have become a degenerate nation whose sole concern is for individual pleasure. If you call this moving forward, I would ask forward to what? It would appear to me that we are moving forward toward the total destruction of what once was a decent and moral society.

    2. Jesus saw that the Jerusalem Temple was used like a market place. Jesus angered on the religious people, because they were not kept the Temple holy. The temple was captured by the buyers, sellers, money exchangers etc. Jesus taught us that the Temple of God will be called a house of prayer for all the nations. The dramatic action performed by Jesus is showing us how much importance He is giving to the Temple of God.


    A guarantee of equality has been removed from the new constitution written after the revolution in 2011. There has been a rise in sexual assaults on the streets. Amnesty International claims discrimination against women "remains in law and practice".

    Women were prominent during the 2011 uprisings but demonstrators today segregate themselves by gender. Discrimination is still enshrined in law. A quota of 30% for women in jobs in state agencies has been proposed but not yet debated. Child marriage remains legal with 52% of women marrying under 18.


    Reforms promised by King Mohammed VI are inching forward. A law that allows rapists to escape jail if they marry their victim is expected to be amended this year. Child marriage is illegal but has been on the rise over the last two years and there are moves to reduce the legal age from 18 to 16. There is only one female minister.

    Women's legal rights have not changed since the revolution in 2010-11 but it took street protests before the new constitution was rewritten to enshrine full equality. The ruling Islamist Ennahda party has 42 women among its 89 MPs and only 3% of teenage girls are married. Some are worried about a rise in hardline conservatism.

    1. It was Egypt where the CBS reporter was gang-raped brutalized, and Sodomized, right?

  3. The Assad regime is what has held Syria together as the Shah did in Iran and Saddam Hussein did in Iraq. Without a dictator to keep the masses under and in control their blood lust comes to the surface and they revert back to tribal backwards behavior. It all comes down to the US and the west having this stupid idea that democracy is good for everyone and it is not. Democracy needs and evolutionary period of time to make it work, it cannot be imposed on backwoods tribal Shi'a and the Sunni. Taking the control of a dictator away leaves them with no way to control their uncivilized ways. The Christians and the Alawites will all be the victims of ethic cleansing. Wait and watch and see the carnage

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  5. O America ...

    How we yearn for the whirled of Ozzie and Harriet.

    For a whirled where folk knew their place. Where "they" were kept in check.
    By dictators, a far, Jim Crow and the "Law" at home.

    Now a days we have jammed the jails full to the point of bustin'.
    There are not enough jails to police the bedrooms of America.

    As Pat said, the country is "split" in half. The "Liberal" side wants the same "Rights" as the "Conservatives". The Conservatives want to use the "Law" to inhibit the behavior of the Liberals, for their own good. The Conservatives see no problem when they use the "Law" to enforce their cultural whirled view, but bemoan the end of civilization when the Liberals do the same.

    In both cases the Federal Socialists use the government to encourage social behavior through tax and spending policies. Remove that from the politicos grasp, make the "Law" neutral. Remove the government from marriage, return marriage to being a religious institution, take the tax benefits away from those participating in the institution. Don't use government policy to encourage or discriminate "approved" social behavior.

    End the government licensing of marriage.

    1. I agree that the federal government and the federal courts should have no say in marriage. That should be left up to the states. Certainly society as a whole has the duty and right to establish their own social rules.

    2. Break the family unit and you place society firmly under the thumb of the government.

    3. Certainly, Deuce, the society "as a whole" has the authority to establish their own social rules.

      This is as true in Afghanistan as it is in New York or Pennsylvania.

      We are reaping the whirlwind of reliance upon the "Law" to create social norms, Government IS establishing the social rules of our society.

      You don't like the new rules.
      Lots of voters did not like the old rules.

      Rules change.

      Morality cannot be legislated.

    4. LBJ and his "War on Poverty"

      A more terrible piece of social rule making is almost unimaginable. The effects of it, still with US. Despite the proven failure of the tactics in the "War", the governmental imperative to continue to "Fight Poverty" is not questioned.

    5. Where oh where in the Constitution is the Federal government empowered to "Fight Poverty"?

      To "define" marriage?

      Why is government, at any level, sanctioning marriage?
      What gives government the "Right" to regulate marriages?

    6. From a biblical historical perspective polygamous marriage is certainly a moral institution.
      Why is it illegal?

      Why is social migration away from polygamy being defined as morally correct, correct?

      Has the Moral Standard changed, has the social moral standard "grown" since Old Testament times?

    7. Has it grown since the 1880's?

      Mitt Romney’s great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, was a Mormon polygamist with five wives, who fled to Mexico to escape a crackdown on the practice of polygamy in the late-1800s

      Should we consider Miles Romney to have been an immoral man?

    8. Who knows?

      But throughout the ages of human history, (since after the earliest times when we were culturally hardly human) the traditional man-wife unit has proved to be the most efficatious and durable, for raising a family in a civilized manner.
      Since before the murder of Madeline Murray O'Hare, however, the left has been on moral crusade to upend reality as human cultural history has come to define it.

  6. Ten years after Iraq war began, Iran reaps the gains

    The influence of Tehran on its neighbor is growing, while the U.S., Iraqi officials and analysts say, pursues a policy of near-total disengagement.

    March 28, 2013|By Ned Parker, Los Angeles Times

    BAGHDAD — Ten years after the U.S.-led invasion to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the geopolitical winner of the war appears to be their common enemy: Iran.

    American military forces are long gone, and Iraqi officials say Washington's political influence in Baghdad is now virtually nonexistent. Hussein is dead. But Iran has become an indispensable broker among Baghdad's new Shiite elite, and its influence continues to grow.

    1. Overall, Iraqi officials and analysts say, Washington has pursued a policy of near-total disengagement, with policy decisions largely relegated to the embassy in Baghdad.
      Some tribal leaders complain that the Americans have not contacted them since U.S. troops left in late 2011.

      Iraq is a sovereign country, not a colony or protectorate of the US.
      US officials should not be meeting with tribal leaders.
      No more than Russian officials should be contacting with Alaskan tribal leaders.

  7. If you're a White Male that likes to bully minorities, the country might not be as "good" as it once did. However, if you're a black, or homosexual, it probably seems to be getting a bit better.

    1. Martin Luther King's Nobel Lecture, ...

      Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.

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    3. In Martin Luther King's whirled morality was not a rigid absolute, by a malleable standard used to guide human behavior.

      Guess he is part of the "New" America.

    4. “White males that bullied minorities” were never more than a small minority themselves. To say otherwise is at best, silly.

    5. While it is a very good thing to be rid of Jim Crow, it would be interesting to see a comparison of the number of fatalities percapita in black communities compared to those during the truly disgusting days of Jim.

    6. Mostly black bullies killing other blacks, these days.

  8. But North Dakota is also red in another sense: it fully supports its state-owned Bank of North Dakota (BND), a socialist relic that exists nowhere else in America. Why is financial socialism still alive in North Dakota? Why haven’t the North Dakotan free-market crusaders slain it dead?

    Because it works.

    In 1919, the Non-Partisan League, a vibrant populist organization, won a majority in the legislature and voted the bank into existence. The goal was to free North Dakota farmers from impoverishing debt dependence on the big banks in the Twin Cities, Chicago and New York. More than 90 years later, this state-owned bank is thriving as it helps the state’s community banks, businesses, consumers and students obtain loans at reasonable rates. It also delivers a handsome profit to its owners — the 700,000 residents of North Dakota. In 2011, the BND provided more than $70 million to the state’s coffers. Extrapolate that profit-per-person to a big state like California and you’re looking at an extra $3.8 billion a year in state revenues that could be used to fund education and infrastructure.

    One of America’s Best Kept Secrets

    Each time we pay our state and local taxes — and all manner of fees — the state . . . .

    Damned Socialists


    1. We’re a fairly conservative lot up here in the upper Midwest and we didn’t do any subprime lending and we have the ability to get into the derivatives markets and put on swaps and callers and caps and credit default swaps and just chose not to do it, really chose a Warren Buffett mentality—if we don’t understand it, we’re not going to jump into it. And so we’ve avoided all those pitfalls.

      As state government employees, BND executives have no incentive to gamble their way toward enormous pay packages. As you can see, the top six BND officers earn a good living, but on Wall Street, cooks and chauffeurs earn more.
      •Eric Hardmeyer, President and CEO: $232,500
      •Bob Humann, Chief Lending Officer: $135,133
      •Tim Porter, Chief Administrative Officer: $122,533
      •Joe Herslip, Chief Business Officer: $105,000
      •Lori Leingang, Chief Administrative Officer: $105,000
      •Wally Erhardt, Director of Student Loans of North Dakota: $91,725

      The very existence of a successful BND undermines Wall Street’s claim that in order to attract the best talent big banks need to offer enormous pay packages. Yet somehow, North Dakota is able to find the talent to run one of the soundest banks in the country? The BND is living proof that Wall Street’s rationale for sky-high executive pay is a self-serving fabrication. (For more information on financial inequality . . . . . .

    2. Need a cap on the total spending of POTUS, Senators, and Representatives.

  9. I can guarantee you that no actor, ball player, singer or CEO of anything is worth more than $232,500 per year.

  10. Google’s motto is “Don’t be evil.” But what would it mean for democracy if it was/were?

    That’s the question psychologist Robert Epstein has been asking in a series of experiments testing the impact of a fictitious search engine — he called it “Kadoodle” — that manipulated search rankings, giving an edge to a favored political candidate by pushing up flattering links and pushing down unflattering ones.

    Not only could Kadoodle sway the outcome of close elections, he says, it could do so in a way most voters would never notice.

    Epstein, who had a public spat with Google last year, offers no evidence of actual evil acts by the company. Yet his exploration of Kadoodle — think of it as the equivalent of Evil Spock, complete with goatee — not only illuminates how search engines shape individual choices but asks whether the government should have a role in keeping this power in check.

    “They have a tool far more powerful than an endorsement or a donation to affect the outcome,” Epstein said. “You have a tool for shaping government. . . . It’s a huge effect that’s basically undetectable.”

    There is no reason to believe that Google would manipulate politically sensitive search results. The company depends on its reputation for presenting fair, useful links, and though that image has taken some hits in recent years with high-profile investigations in the United States and Europe, it would be far worse to get caught trying to distort search results for political ends.

    Yet Epstein’s core finding — that a dominant search engine could alter perceptions of candidates in close elections — has substantial support. Given the wealth of information available about Internet users, a search engine could even tailor results for ­­­certain groups, based on location, age, income level, past searches, Web browsing history or other factors.

    1. You can no longer spell check in Google Mail.
      You have to sign up for a separate service where you register, etc. etc.

      No doubt to refine a more granular level understanding of our thoughts and daily behaviors.

    2. I've gone back to using the Web Publisher on my computer.
      Instant, versus the new system that takes forever.
      ...meaning I didn't give a second thought to register.

  11. "As Murray tells it, his atheism was enforced from childhood by a tyrannical, explosive and indifferent matriarch. Growing up in a household run by his mother and maternal grandmother (his father left when he was an infant), Bill says it was clear to him that his mother wanted only girl children: "One of her favorite stories—I've heard her repeat it many times—is that
    when I was born and the doctor told her,

    'It's a boy,' she asked him if there wasn't some way he could put it back."

    Bill says he remembers her cruelties all too well: Once, in a fit of temper, she shattered a model airplane he had been working on for months—and another time she bit him so severely he still recalls the pain. "As a kid I won a baseball trophy," he says.

    "Two years later when she came across it she asked where I had bought it. I told her I'd won it, but since she didn't know or care that I played baseball, she didn't believe me. Her attitude was that if she couldn't see it or touch it or feel it, it didn't exist."

    Evidently liked guys a lot.
    ...I had some teachers like that. (no beatings, of course.)