Blaise Pascal, Penseé 347: “Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this. All our dignity consists, then, in thought. By it we must elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us endeavor, then, to think well; this is the principle of morality.”
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Monday, October 22, 2012
What is scary about this clip is that it is from a year ago. There is nothing that Matthews says here that shouldn't completely explain the first presidential debate to him.
For me a vote in a presidential campaign is rooted as much in whether I trust or respect a candidate, and in the general direction they'd take the country, as in their policy arguments.
Although I don't think either candidate is being candid about what needs to be done to tackle our immense financial difficulties, I have two things against the Democrats in this regard that I think the Republicans will improve. First, the Democrats went on the most irresponsible, insane spending spree in history in the first two years of the Obama administration. It stimulated nothing and only made our situation far more dire. Second, they had a responsibility, as the party in power, to propose a plan to deal with the problem. Chris Matthews, in an astoundingly truthful clip, nails that they did not propose such a plan. I see no commitment or capacity in Barack Obama to do the immensely difficult work that reducing the deficit will require.
Neither does Chris Matthews.
Barack Obama went from being an unremarkable state legislator in Illinois to being President of the United States in four short years. An utterly undistinguished four years as a U. S. Senator, in which he seldom even voted for or against a bill, intervened. On this scant experience--and no experience as an executive--he was given the highest office in the land and arguably, the most powerful and important job in the world. He always hated legislative work and has been out of touch with Congress for his entire presidency. What were we thinking?
America is beginning to wake up from a mass delusion, and historians are going to be studying, for a long time, how desire, propelled by almost the entire mass media, could have so trumped realistic expectations or assessments of Barack Obama's abilities. He was bored as a U. S. Senator, which is, to me, astounding. He goes from being no one, to U. S. Senator, and the job isn't big enough for him. Now he's bored with being president. Maybe Emperor?
addendum: for application to foreign policy, see today's WSJ editorial by Dorothy Rabinowitz: "The Unreality of the Last Four Years": Rabinowitz, October 22, 2012
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Friday, October 19, 2012
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Spitzer also argued that physicists like Stephen Hawkings who posit the beginning of the universe never start from nothing--they always got some beginning state that is "something." I've read the last couple books that try to make the argument of a universe from "nothing," including Hawkings, and I think Spitzer is right. It still leaves open the question, where did that initial something--even if it's just a fluctuating gravitational state--come from?
Thomas Aquinas approaches the proof from contingency in two different ways. In the one that Spitzer focuses on, the line of causation is through time. But another way of looking at it has nothing to do with time, but rather with levels of reality. If you start with a cat, for instance, and next level might be organs, and then cells, and then molecules; protons, neutrons, elections; subatomic particles, to the very end. Finally, it seems, something is holding it all up, some causeless cause--otherwise, it's tortoises all the way down.
At any rate, leaving aside whether "proofs" for the existence of God are utterly convincing, I see no conflict between physical science and metaphysics or religion, as Fr. Robert Barron explains in the video below. That's good enough for me. I don't expect any human being to be able to explain with geometric precision the origin, meaning, or destiny of human life, whether they are Aquinas or Dawkins.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
For a print version of the Benghazi time-line, from February until October 17, see this link:
President did mention terror and acts of terror in context with the Benghazi attack on several other occasions without ever quite saying that the Benghazi attack was a terrorist act, and it was always mixed up with crowds and the video, with much more emphasis on the later. This was Susan Rice's focus. The best you can make out of this is that the State Department was in a fog about what had actually happened and was therefore putting out appropriately foggy language, not wanting to say it was a terrorist attack, not wanting to say it wasn't--but given that State was in real time contact with the Embassy for six hours during the attack, why would there be this ambiguity? Why the non-specific language and the narrative about the crowds and the video? And why two weeks of this? That is a question that needs to be addressed.
After the debate, Crowley seemed to recognize herself that she'd crossed from debate moderator to debate participant:
Jason Chaffetz (Republican, Utah), in the panel discussion with Crowley, below, nails the problem; Crowley is giving an interpretation of Obama's speech--and this is not her place.
I do not agree with John T. Bennett, below, that Romney made a "Rose Garden Gaffe." Nevertheless, Bennett goes to the heart of the issue: this really is a coverup:
For a full review of the consistent refusal of the Obama administration to call the Benghazi attack a terrorist attack / act of terror / terrorism--pick your label--is made fully clear in the Fox News review in the blog entry entitled "The Holes in the Libya Narrative" on this blog.
But Romney was right in saying that we were told, for 12 days after the attack, that it was spontaneous mob action in response to a video. Susan Rice, our UN Ambassador, when on five TV shows the following Sunday just to emphasize that story again and again. We now know that the attack was a very coordinated military assault that went on for about 6 hours--and that the State Department was listening in in real time! See this link: Murder and Lies in Libya and Washington. So the next important question which Romney rightly raises is why were we not told the truth? Did the State Department not know what happened? If it didn't, why didn't it, given the information they got as the assault took place? If it did, why the story? Was the State Department negligently ignorant, or lying?
Here is how the rest of the debate went on this question:
Mainstream Media, where are you?
Friday, October 12, 2012
[Note: I have amended the sentence beginning with "The liberal self . . ." in response to Josh Stein's comment. See below.]
Thursday, October 11, 2012
For what the polls are worth, Ryan and Biden split between CBS and CNN, who polled different demographics. Who Won the Debate
What sticks with me about this debate, aside from Biden's laughter, and also from the first Romney / Obama debate, is that there are no Democratic proposals on the table to turn around the economy or deal with the coming bankruptcy of Medicare. You can't even find them on-line. Everyone in both parties knows these are dire issues. The Republicans at least put up proposals, all of which include cuts because cuts have to be made. The Democrats then attack, hoping the public will believe that higher taxes on people and businesses earning over $250,000, will do the job. As Ryan pointed out in one of his best segments of the night, these taxes will not come close, and cuts will have to come:
"Look, if you taxed every person and successful business making over $250,000 at 100 percent, it would only run the government for 98 days. If everybody who paid income taxes last year, including successful small businesses, doubled their income taxes this year, we'd still have a $300 billion deficit. You see? There aren't enough rich people and small businesses to tax to pay for all their spending."
The Democrat playbook on budget issues--propose nothing, sit back, and attack--is irresponsible politics. If they get another four years, the debt approaches $20 trillion, and we approach debt default, it will be a real Greek-style belly slapper.
An Oldie but Goodie; Jon Stewart on Crossfire:
My favorite line by Stewart: "To do a debate would be great." Yeah.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
The Wall Street Journal ran the following video-report on the day the BLS published the statistic,
"Is 7.8% Unemployment Legit?"
A month before the election, after a losing debate, the Democrats are trumpeting the good news.
The most controversial response to the 7.8% statistic was Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, who tweeted: "Unbelievable job numbers . . . these Chicago guys will do anything. . . can't debate so change numbers."
Welsh has been taking heat ever since. Chris Matthews on Welch:
Today, Welch responded to people who, he said, "would like me to pipe down." See his WSJ editorial at this link: Welch: "I was right about that strange jobs report"
Welch in on Fox Video at this link: Welch on Cavuto
Among explanations I've heard for the number are a statistically anomalous sample and spiking seasonal part-time employment. The last pre-election date for the release of unemployment statistics by the BLS is November 2.
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Monday, October 8, 2012
Thursday, October 4, 2012
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Vanity Fair: "Good LORD. Obama wouldn't win a student council election against a chubby nerd with that closing argument."
Adam Nagourney: "Obama closer: 'I think this was a terrific debate.' CALLING THE FACT CHECKERS"
Addition on October 4:
Two-thirds of Americans who watched President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney debate Wednesday night thought Romney won, a CNN poll indicated.
Read more: CNN Snap Poll