Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Want Evidence of Hysterical Anti-Christian Bigotry? Look No Further than #BoycottIndiana

Want Evidence of Hysterical Anti-Christian Bigotry? Look No Further than #BoycottIndiana
By David French 

We’re Losing the War Against Radical Islam

We’re Losing the War Against Radical Islam
Congress needs a strategy to defeat both violent and cultural jihad.
By Newt Gingrich

Don's Tuesday Column

THE WAY I SEE IT   by Don Polson    Red Bluff Daily News   3/31/2015

          Fighting over water supplies

With great fanfare, as reported in the Daily News, March 28, our Guv’ner “Brown signs $1B water plan” dedicated to “infrastructure spending amid the worst drought in a generation, although much of the plan was drawn with future dry years in mind.” (AP) Just to briefly summarize the areas of funding: In this initial installment of the multi-billion dollar bond passed by voters last November, we are told that the first and, apparently, highest priorities for the monies are “aid to residents hurt by the drought” while “the vast majority is expedited spending on water infrastructure.”

Let’s just back up and describe the situation a bit more accurately. Nature has delivered California several “dry,” “very dry” or even “exceptionally dry” years. California and the Western region are prone to extreme variations in precipitation. The native flora, fauna and indigenous people adapted, migrated and engaged in limited existences based on what could be sustained over the years and centuries of natural variation. Before European migration, activities and settlements arrived, water and fire were the forces that maintained balanced ecosystems that plant life, as well as animals, simply lived (or died) with.

The species that survived up to and through the recent past did so without environmental regulations, the EPA, CEQA (environmental quality rules), and in spite of years, even decades, of dry conditions. Did some plants and animals go extinct? Well, not the ones that survived—that may sound trite but it illustrates that nature is far more resilient than we give it credit for. Native tribes moved during winter months in nomadic fashion from mountains and foothills to lower, more hospitable climes. They set fires to create meadows and an abundance of edible foliage to entice, even guarantee, deer populations a menu to thrive on until finding their way onto the aboriginal menu.

These same tribes were well aware of the tendency for floods great and small in the flat valleys in winter, even informing the Sutters and others that they were foolishly building what is now Old Sacramento below flood level. The basements of those buildings are testament to the ingenuity, determination and, yes, foolhardiness of the gold miners and business builders of that time. European-Americans used those same qualities to raise the street grade level and build what would have been the second floors for those occasionally flooded structures; that testifies to the intelligence and abilities of the soon-to-be-predominant migrants from the east.

Environmental and cultural foolishness, let alone abominable mistreatment aside, the spirit of the newer inhabitants forged ahead into the 20th century. It is an objectively praiseworthy thing of technological, engineering and creative wonder that the most precious, often scarce but essential element for humans to thrive in abundance—water—has been marshaled, directed and saved from uselessly (for the most part) flowing into the Pacific Ocean.

So, in mid-century California’s leaders saw no serious or intelligent impediment to building dams to capture runoff in winter, for the inherently laudable purpose of serving the water needs of a growing residential and agricultural state. However, beginning in about the 1970s, an absolutist environmental movement worked its way into public policy planning with the result that water infrastructure became incomprehensibly discouraged, postponed and often stopped cold. In the greens’ quasi-religious fervor, reasonable human needs took a back seat to poorly thought-out and marginally reasoned substitutes: water conservation for critters and, for the most agriculturally productive land on the planet, rationing and cutoffs.

Hence, a hardly unprecedented series of dry years—snow surveys from Donner Pass going back to the late 1800s show similar minimal snow pack conditions in the 1880s, 1930s and 1970s—have now demonstrated the paucity of foresight and commitment to human water needs. To the extent that these dry winters constitute a “drought” (no rivers or streams are yet drying up), it is a human-manufactured “drought.” Sites Reservoir has been known about, planned and capable of construction for decades for a fraction of the money it will now require; same goes for at least one other reservoir location. Delta smelt are a completely manufactured crisis that should never have become a cause or pretext for depriving farmers of water for crops and orchards.

Drought relief payments to those suffering in economic deprivation are, therefore, simply guilt money that acknowledges reality: people have created ludicrous policies that are killing large parts of the agricultural sector. Paying for “flood control” as part of “drought relief” is simply an asinine shifting of money voted for the purpose of water storage toward pet projects.

Senator Jim Nielsen nailed it: “the plan provides no oversight or accountability to ensure that the moneys would be spent as they were intended…The drought is being exploited to give sweeping and punitive powers to the Department of Fish and Wildlife to impose fines of up to $8,000 per day, per violation…(and) creates a new government entity—the Office of Sustainable Water Solution—without identifying the size, scope or funding source.” Jim favored the water bond because he had worked admirably to put ironclad commitments to increasing storage; I expressed doubt that Democrats and their enviro constituencies could be held to those commitments. We are now seeing the anything-but-more-dams crowd predictably shift money and priorities to what they do best: hand out money to those hardest hit by anti-human agriculture policy; and fund favored, but largely irrelevant “flood control” and conservation projects.
           Solution: For a fraction of High Speed Rail cost, sewer water could be recycled for yards, crops and pools; desalination plants could be placed around coastal cities for drinking water.


I recall taking in a British comedy sketch on TV over in London many years ago that featured the familiar device of an “interview” with a historical figure—in this case, the Lord Jesus Christ himself. The deadpan interviewer asked, “I suppose you’ll be going around doing your usual miracles again—raising the dead, healing the sick, turning water into wine, and so forth?
NAS Cover copyTo which Jesus replies with a qualification: “Yes—but strictly within the limits of sustainable development.” Which makes all the more propitious the release today of a copious report from the National Association of Scholars on the religious fervor for “sustainability” on college campuses today. The report is entitled Sustainability: Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism, and I heartily recommend it.
The irony is obvious: few things are less “sustainable” today that the business model of many colleges and universities. I’m sure Sweet Briar College emphasized sustainability. (Yup—they do did. Heh.) The basic idea of “sustainable development”—meeting the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs—is fine in the abstract, but you’ll note that definition doesn’t give much practical guidance about whether you should drill that next gas well or harvest that stand of trees over there. I wrote at some length about this issue for The Public Interest over ten years ago; you can still find the article right here.
Here’s the central point: the best system for ensuring sustainability for future generation is . . . free market capitalism. Guess how many college courses on “sustainability” teach that point of view? You don’t even need both jazz hands moving to count them.
Environmental scientist Timothy O’Riordan warned in 1988 that “It may only be a matter of time before the metaphor of sustainability becomes so confused as to be meaningless, certainly as a device to straddle the ideological conflicts that pervade contemporary environmentalism.” Well, that time has come: like other concepts that could have been sensible and usable if done seriously, “sustainability” has become, as the NAS report notes, completely absorbed into the usual anti-capitalist ideology, and yet another pretext for the central environmental will to extend political control over people and resources:
The goals of the sustainability movement are different. They go far beyond ensuring clean air and water and protecting vulnerable plants and animals. As an ideology, sustainability takes aim at economic and political liberty. Sustainability pictures economic liberty as a combination of strip mining, industrial waste, and rampant pollution. It pictures political liberty as people voting to enjoy the present, heedless of what it will cost future generations. Sustainability’s alternative to economic liberty is a regime of far-reaching regulation that controls virtually every aspect of energy, industry, personal consumption, waste, food, and transportation. Sustainability’s alternative to political liberty is control vested in agencies and panels run by experts insulated from elections or other expressions of popular will.
Some day we’re going to look back on this whole period the same way we now regard the temperance movement and Prohibition. But, as with Prohibition, in the meantime a lot of criminal rackets are taking root.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Indiana Firestorm

The Indiana Firestorm

 by John Schroeder

In case you have missed it, the state of Indiana is in turmoil over the Thursday enactment of a Religious Freedom Restoration act.  It has grown to the point where just two days after signing the bill, the governor is calling for legislation to clarify it.  Google up “religious freedom” and you will note the amount of coverage is stunning.
“We have this very particularized conflict between Christians and progressive gay rights interests,” said Indiana University constitutional law professor, John Hill.
To really understand what is at stake, you have to dig into this a bit.
Start with the law in question itself.  Here is the operative section:
Sec. 8. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability. (b) A governmental entity may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if the governmental entity demonstrates that application of the burden to the person: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
Prior to that section are the needed definitions, and subsequent to it are the sections that establish that a person so burdened can seek redress in court.  It seems simple enough.  The law is designed to allow private business to refuse to cater to same-sex weddings without suffering extraordinary fines or to allow churches to refuse to hire LGBT individuals.  (This later example has yet to happen, but EEOC rulings make it inevitable.)
The lawyers are going to be parsing language and splitting hairs for quite a while on this one.  I cannot begin to figure out where all this is going to end up legally – I just know it is going to get uglier before it gets better.  What concerns me is the societal trend it represents.
The country, when the LGBT community began to clamor for it, was pretty quick to adopt civil unions to provide legal protections for persons of variant sexual practice.  It seemed a reasonable accommodation.  While many of us felt those practices aberrant, we did not see any reason to deny individuals so involved the same legal rights regarding their partners  that were accorded the more mainstream.  But that has clearly not been good enough for the LGBT community as it it has resulted in is louder, more shrill, and in some cases more violent, calls for “marriage.”
The religious community, of course is the last institution standing against what the LGBT community wants.  The church as been specifically targeted.  Rather than live with accommodation, the LGBT community now seeks to use the force of government to control religious opposition to their desires.  This shows two trends:
  1. It represents the use of government force to try to shape public opinion
  2. It potentially unbalances the careful balance of societal influence between church and state that has made this nation great.
The first trend is pretty simple. Given how this moved on past civil unions, it is very clear that the LGBT community wanted more than to simply obtain legal status.  They wish to be viewed as no different than anyone else.  This is a normal human desire.  It is; however, extraordinarily sad that they think the force of government can accomplish that.  People usually resent what they areforced to think.  Winsome persuasion is a far more effective tool than government force.  Fifty years after the passage of the civil rights act, racism, though not nearly as prevalent or powerful as some would have us think, still exists.  And if you have ever had the “privilege” of meeting a real racist (not the trumped up racists of most media stories) you would know that their contempt for the legalities of race has only hardened their racism.
I visited the Soviet Union in its dying days in 1991.  I also visited the People’s Republic of China in 1989.  Both were places where religion was strictly and legally forbidden.  And yet religion thrived in both places.  It was technically and officially underground, but it was most apparent and accessible to anyone looking for it. The communists of those countries could not eliminate religion, despite their best efforts.  I honestly do not understand how the LGBT community thinks they are going to achieve their desires with this tactic.  The church will go underground if they push hard enough, but it will never go away.  And the funny thing is the church underground usually ends up growing stronger and more effective.  From Rome to the Soviet Union, the church has ended up winning.
The mainline Protestant denominations are dropping like flies on this issue.  Changing churches from the inside seems a much better strategy than this sort of governmental coercion.
Which brings me to the second trend.  The Founders realized exactly the point I made in the prior discussion.  They had learned through the history of Europe and the Reformation that the governmental establishment of a religion was a loser.  That the best way to influence the moral and cultural thinking of a society was through winsome persuasion, not government force.  In other words, in European nations with government established churches, other churches still took root and grew.  Often leading to conflict.  The governmental establishment of religion in Europe certainly lead to many of the colonies that founded the United States.  Being capitalists, they figured the best way out of that sort of mess was to let the free market decide which religion should predominate in the new nation.
That has served us well for some centuries now.  The constitution balances more than the branches of government.  The Bill of Rights, with its protections of speech and religious expression seeks to balance government with the other forces that shape a society.  The LGBT community, in trying to use the force of law to override religious conviction seeks to undo that carefully constructed balance.
As such, it reveals an essential lack of confidence in the rightness of their cause.  If they truly believe their own rhetoric, could they not have confidence that they would eventually win in the free market of ideas?
There is a lot more at stake here than simply a law in Indiana.  The fundamental shape of our nation stands on trial.  I have confidence that ultimately religion will triumph.  That does not mean that the LGBT community will be squelched, quashed, or otherwise put upon.  It means simply that religion will retain its place in our society.  It has prevailed throughout history in the free market of ideas and it will do so now.

Facing Evil

Facing Evil

 by John Schroeder
There is an upside-down quality to this president’s world view. His administration is now on better terms with Iran—whose Houthi proxies, with the slogan “God is great, death to America, death to Israel, damn the Jews, power to Islam,” just deposed Yemen’s legitimate president—than it is with Israel. He claims we are winning the war against Islamic State even as the group continues to extend its reach into Libya, Yemen and Nigeria.
He treats Republicans in the Senate as an enemy when it comes to the Iranian nuclear negotiations, while treating the Russian foreign ministry as a diplomatic partner. He favors the moral legitimacy of the United Nations Security Council to that of the U.S. Congress. He is facilitating Bashar Assad’s war on his own people by targeting ISIS so the Syrian dictator can train his fire on our ostensible allies in the Free Syrian Army.
He was prepared to embrace a Muslim Brother as president of Egypt but maintains an arm’s-length relationship with his popular pro-American successor. He has no problem keeping company with Al Sharpton and tagging an American police department as comprehensively racist but is nothing if not adamant that the words “Islamic” and “terrorism” must on no account ever be conjoined. The deeper that Russian forces advance into Ukraine, the more they violate cease-fires, the weaker the Kiev government becomes, the more insistent he is that his response to Russia is working.
Stephens goes on to discuss Obama’s “moral inversions.”  In other words evil is good, at least in the Obama worldview.  And unfortunately, a good portion of America agrees with him.  How in the name of all that is holy did we get here?
That question keeps ringing and ringing in my mind.  It started a couple of weeks ago when I watched an HBO documentary, “Night Will Fall.”  It is mostly the footage that was shot in the Nazi concentration camps immediately after they were liberated.  It is horrifying.  Everybody knows (except the complete crazies) there was a Holocaust; everybody sort of, kind of generically knows it was bad.  But watching that film, even though I had seen much of the footage before, is a view into pure man-made hell.  Again, how in the name of all that is holy, did human beings, ostensibly in Christian Europe, sink to that level?
Then a friend of mine, seemingly randomly, put this video on Facebook today:
and even though I had watched all of that live as it happened, it was like getting kicked in the gut.  My own mind had suppressed the  shock and horror of that September morning.  Suddenly I began to answer my question.  We do not want to look upon evil.  Doing so makes too many demands of us.
It starts with the simple emotional demands of having to look at such ugliness.  It is unpleasant and who wants to put themselves in an unpleasant situation.  But when we do look at it, the demands grow.
If we look at evil, we have to do something about it.  Once we truly face something that is evil we know it has to be destroyed and we know that we have to do whatever we can to aid in its destruction.  And that means we have to make some sacrifices.   Yes, some of us may have to sacrifice sons and brothers to military action.  We may have to sacrifice a bit of comfort in order to properly supply a military effort.  But battling evil often involves more than just military action, and the sacrifices can cut much deeper.
Looking directly at evil can be a bit like looking at a mirror.  For evil like flying planes into buildings to actually occur, people’s evil impulses have to be nursed, encouraged, and set loose to act.  We all have the impulses from time-to-time, but most of us have the strength of character to prevent those impulses from turning into action.  Self-control is a sacrifice, a major one.  And the more of it we exercise the more we come to see how broadly the evil impulses affect our lives.  It is fairly easy not to gas Jews, but it is much more difficult not to categorize the guy that wrote that oh-so-wrong blog post as a “moronic nincompoop.”   You see, the impulse to gas Jews is the same impulse as the one that labels the writer, after it has been massaged, nursed, encouraged and set loose.  Battling evil starts by battling and controlling our own baser nature, and that is doggone hard work.
So, if you want to be elected to the highest office in the land do you want to force people to look at evil?  Probably not, because they are not going to like it.  This is certainly a part of the antipathy that developed towards George W. Bush as things dragged on.  And this is certainly the reason that the Obama administration has an “upside-down quality.”  It’s just plain easier.
This used to be a nation that welcomed hard work and tried to improve itself.  We are certainly suffering through an administration that is not so inclined.  I would like to think we are still that nation and have simply been fooled into thinking we were in fact conquering evil by electing this president.  We are having to relearn that the strength of character necessary to look at evil is not a matter of identity, but a matter of genuine self-examination and control, regardless of identity (which in my case definitely involves divine assistance).
The next election will tell much about whether we are still that nation or whether we have really turned a corner.  But one thing is quite certain,  character matters in our candidates.  Will they have the character to be honest about the state of the world and to force us to look at it?  Such candidates can be assured of my support.  Here’s hoping they will have the nations.


The Wall Street Journal reports: “Israel Spied on Iran Nuclear Talks With U.S.” Sounds like a blockbuster, but this is one of those less-there-than-meets-the-eye stories. It begins:
Soon after the U.S. and other major powers entered negotiations last year to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, senior White House officials learned Israel was spying on the closed-door talks.
The spying operation was part of a broader campaign by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to penetrate the negotiations and then help build a case against the emerging terms of the deal, current and former U.S. officials said.
But what did Israel’s “spying” consist of? Despite the Journal’s headline, it is not clear that the Israelis spied on the U.S. at all:
The White House discovered the operation, in fact, when U.S. intelligence agencies spying on Israel [! -- Ed.] intercepted communications among Israeli officials that carried details the U.S. believed could have come only from access to the confidential talks, officials briefed on the matter said.
That is not, obviously, evidence of spying, let alone spying on the U.S.
Israeli officials denied spying directly on U.S. negotiators and said they received their information through other means, including close surveillance of Iranian leaders receiving the latest U.S. and European offers. European officials, particularly the French, also have been more transparent with Israel about the closed-door discussions than the Americans, Israeli and U.S. officials said. …
While U.S. officials may not be direct targets, current and former officials said, Israeli intelligence agencies sweep up communications between U.S. officials and parties targeted by the Israelis, including Iran.
It is not exactly page one news that Israel spies on Iran. What is noteworthy here is not that the Israelis wanted to know what was going on in the negotiations with Iran, but rather that the Obama administration tried to prevent them from finding out.
Which put Israel in the same position as Congress: Obama didn’t want Senators and Congressmen to know what was being negotiated, either. What really made the administration angry was that the Israelis shared information about the negotiations with Congress:
The espionage didn’t upset the White House as much as Israel’s sharing of inside information with U.S. lawmakers and others to drain support from a high-stakes deal intended to limit Iran’s nuclear program, current and former officials said.
“It is one thing for the U.S. and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal U.S. secrets and play them back to U.S. legislators to undermine U.S. diplomacy,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the matter.
So the Obama administration’s real enemy isn’t Iran, or even Israel–it is Congress! The Journal describes what the Israelis passed on to lawmakers:
Mr. Dermer and other Israeli officials over the following weeks gave lawmakers and their aides information the White House was trying to keep secret, including how the emerging deal could allow Iran to operate around 6,500 centrifuges, devices used to process nuclear material, said congressional officials who attended the briefings.
The Israeli officials told lawmakers that Iran would also be permitted to deploy advanced IR-4 centrifuges that could process fuel on a larger scale, meeting participants and administration officials said. Israeli officials said such fuel, which under the emerging deal would be intended for energy plants, could be used to one day build nuclear bombs.
The information in the briefings, Israeli officials said, was widely known among the countries participating in the negotiations.
One can debate the political merits of the path chosen by Prime Minister Netanyahu, which included his speech to a joint session of Congress. But what seems beyond dispute is that the Israelis’ blowing the whistle on the status of the negotiations, which was followed by the open letter posted by Tom Cotton and 46 other Senators, has made it difficult if not impossible for the Obama administration to make a terrible deal with Iran, force it down the throats of the French and other allies, and then spring it on Congress and the American people as a fait accompli. Which is exactly what the Obama administration had planned on doing.