Daily Archives: March 11, 2014
Guns for Jesus – churches award guns to lucky parishioners. My kind of people, my kind of church. Let’s start one here – Peter Tesei can be our pope.
What would Jesus shoot?
Some churches in Kentucky and in upstate New York are doing what it takes to get people into the pews to hear the word of God — and in their neck of the woods, that means giving away guns.
The flier for the raffle at Grace Baptist Church, in Troy, N.Y., shows an AR-15 — an assault rifle altered to make it legal in that state — with a quote from the gospel of St. John, “My peace I give unto you.” It isn’t spelled “piece,” but it could have been.
The church’s pastor, John Koletas, told the Albany Times Union, “I’m just trying to be a blessing and a help to the gun owners and the hunters and give away a free AR-15. It’s the right thing to do.”
In Kentucky, where gun giveaways happen in some churches just about every week, a free raffle of 25 guns by Paducah’s Lone Oak First Baptist Church got about 1,300 people into the church hall for a steak dinner and a pep talk by a gun fancier named Chuck McAlister who’s been hired by Kentucky’s Southern Baptists to help boost congregations by evangelizing — in this case, about guns and sin and Jesus.
11 Simmons Lane, $3.2 million. Lovely older home, and $3.2’s a good price. Surely it would have sold far sooner and possibly for several hundred thousand more had it not been priced at $4.250 originally. Get it right the first time’s my advice.
Listed and sold by Ogilvy.
Fascinating essay by the UVA professor James W. Caesar. Some excerpts (but read the whole thing):
Every student of American religious history has heard of the event known as “the Great Disappointment.” In 1818 William Miller, a former naval captain turned lay Baptist preacher, developed a new method for calculating biblical chronology to arrive at the conclusion that the millennium would take place sometime between 1842 and 1844. Finally published in 1832, Miller’s thesis quickly drew attention. A sect began to form, spreading from Miller’s home region in Eastern New York to New England and beyond. Millerism was born. The time was drawing nigh, Miller preached, when a dreadful cataclysm would occur, to be followed by a wondrous splendor: “The heavens appear, the great white throne is in sight, amazement fills the universe with awe.” Pressed by followers for an exact date—people wished to settle their affairs before going up to heaven—Miller, after some hesitation and a few unmet deadlines, settled on October 22, 1844. The fateful day came and then went without any visible sign of the Advent, leaving the Millerites disheartened and perplexed.
And what of the Great Disappointment of 2013? In the promiscuous blending of politics and culture that characterizes our age, the launch of the Obama campaign in 2007 marked the beginning of a politico-spiritual movement that promised a new beginning and a transformation of the nation. It was to be the “moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal . . . [when we] restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.” Faith in the leader knew no bounds. Obamaism spilled out from the college campuses and tony enclaves of Manhattan and San Francisco into the mass public to become first an American and then a worldwide phenomenon. The legion of believers included not only the youth in their T-shirts emblazoned with the silk-screen Obama image, but also many of the nation’s most experienced political observers. By early 2009, the five wise persons from Oslo had come bearing the gift of the Nobel Peace Prize. No date was fixed for the fulfillment of all the hopes and promises—extensions were continually asked for under the excuse that “change would never be easy”—but enough time had transpired by the end of 2013 for people to sense that the deadline had come and gone. Like October 22, 1844, the appointed time passed with no visible sign of the advent of a new era.
How believers cope with the trauma of disappointment has long been a theme in the field of social psychology. Modern, positivist research on this topic began with the publication in 1956 of Leon Festinger’s celebrated work When Prophecy Fails, in which Festinger and his colleagues first introduced the theory of “cognitive dissonance.” This theory explores how people deal with the discomfort of confronting conflicting ideas and opposing sentiments (“dissonance”). The model holds that individuals will look for mechanisms to reduce dissonance, be it by avoiding contact with conflicting sources of information (as when readers of The Weekly Standard surf with their remotes past MSNBC) or by restructuring their worldview to reduce or eliminate clashing positions. Three general responses are possible: acceptance, denial, and deflection.
Accepters are those who conclude that they have succumbed to an error or perhaps been victims of a hoax….
Deniers are those who refuse to accept disconfirmation and go on believing. The explanation for deniability, a reaction that seems counterintuitive, is the pride of Festinger’s study. By his account, some followers have invested so much in their adherence that they cannot eliminate the dissonance by adjusting to reality. They instead “effectively blind themselves to the facts” and band together, fortifying their beliefs by the support of others who agree. “If more and more people can be persuaded that the system of belief is correct, then clearly it must, after all, be correct.” In brief, to quote another expert, they cling to religion.
Evidence of deniability inside of Obamaism is strong. Deniers can still be regularly encountered on college campuses and in many sections of the nation’s capital. Even the revelation of Obama’s famous deception about keeping your insurance—a moment worthy of Festingerian “disconfirmation” if ever there was one—was dismissed by HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius on the grounds that it applied to just “5 percent of Americans,” or about twice the population of New York City. The face of the deniers, shaven or unshaven, is Jay Carney, who gives every indication that he is already beginning to form a Dönmeh sect of his own. Of course, Carney has the excuse of being paid for his services, making his deniability plausible. […….]
Deflection is the most interesting of the responses to a crisis of disappointment. Dissonance, according to Festinger, can be reduced if not entirely limited by the mechanism of “inventing ingenious arguments,” of which the “but for” line of reasoning has enjoyed the greatest success. Deflectors admit that the anticipated outcome did not actually occur, which is their concession to reality. But they go on to say that the failure was not the result of a falsehood or a hoax. The prophecy would have been fulfilled but for the existence of a countervailing force that canceled it out. The promise in a sense was kept, only its effects were nullified. […….]
Among the remaining Obamaites, deflectors seem to outnumber deniers, though the overlap between the two groups makes measurement difficult. Deflection began early on, when the movement was still growing, as a hedge against the possibility of failure. In the full flush of enthusiasm, deflectors began to caution that the great change might be thwarted by the racism of the American public. Deflection was later perfected by political scientists, who added the authority of supposedly neutral analysis. The failure of the advent, it is now said, has been the result of “polarization” and “dysfunctionality.” […….]The inadequacy of such an argument was recognized even by deflectors, who moved on to shore it up by the addition of the theme of dysfunctional government. This term sounds objective, only deflectors have successfully managed to define it as a condition brought on solely by the Republican party. Republicans who oppose the president and his party produce dysfunctionality; Democrats who pass a law fundamentally changing the health care system without reading it are functional. Dysfunctionality is treated as the great alien force; but for it, Obamaism would have succeeded. Here is a faith that can never die.
All of this was brought to mind by James Taranto’s essay in the WSJ today, “Speak of the Devil – the campaign against the Koch Brothers.” Deflection exemplified.
Drunk on flight to rehab gets drunk, flight diverted. Wise to send a companion along on these sort of trips.
New Jersey refuses to let Tesla sell its cars directly to consumers. This fight’s been going on for decades, around the country, and auto manufacturers have lost every battle, so far as I’m aware. Most recently Porsche tried to set up its own dealerships because customers were so dissatisfied with the service provided by existing dealers – stopped dead in its tracks.
I’ve never seen an explanation for the clout dealers hold over their local politicians but I assume that (a) they have a lot of money to toss around and (b) they’re all active in the fat boy clubs, such as Rotary and Lions and Royal Order of the Water Buffalos (Lodge 26).
Whatever the cause, the interest of consumers has no place in the discussion.
19 Riverside Lane, asking $975,000. As land, that’s too high; as a decent little house, which it looks to be, not bad at all. I’d prefer Havemeyer at this range, but we can’t always get what we want.
Post Script: you know, if you told someone he’d be able to afford a million-dollar home someday, I’ll bet this wouldn’t have been what he pictured.
Greenwich Time has an article today on the history of film production in our town and it’s interesting, if incomplete. It stops at the 1930s, when in fact we’ve hosted movie shoots as far back as 1908, when D.W. Griffith would bring his cast and crews out to what is now Rosa Hartman Park, in the Laddin’s Rock section of OG,
Buried deep in a section of President Obama’s budget, released this week, is an eye-opening fact: This year, 70% of all the money the federal government spends will be in the form of direct payments to individuals, an all-time high.
In effect, the government has become primarily a massive money-transfer machine, taking $2.6 trillion from some and handing it back out to others. These government transfers now account for 15% of GDP, another all-time high. In 1991, direct payments accounted for less than half the budget and 10% of GDP.
What’s more, the cost of these direct payments is exploding. Even after adjusting for inflation, they’ve shot up 29% under Obama.
Where do these checks go? The biggest chunk, 38.6%, goes to pay health bills, either through Medicare, Medicaid or ObamaCare. A third goes out in the form of Social Security checks. Only 21% goes toward poverty programs — or “income security” as it’s labeled in the budget — and a mere 5% ends up in the hands of veterans.
Interestingly, despite Obama’s frequent pledges to reduce income inequality, the share of direct payments going toward “income security” has dropped from 25% in 2009 to 20% in 2014. (The average share from 1980 to 2008 was 25.4%.)
Obama’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget calls for this share to drop to just 17% by 2019, as his programs devote more and more federal tax money to middle-class entitlement programs such as ObamaCare.
Here’s another way to look at it: If all these federal direct payments went only to the poor, every person living in poverty today would receive an annual check worth $55,900.
The 1% Handouts
Instead, a surprisingly large amount of federal money is handed out to wealthy Americans through Social Security, Medicare, farm subsidies, unemployment benefits, conservation programs, disaster payments and other programs.
An IBD analysis found that the richest 1% of Americans, in fact, receive roughly $10 billion each year in federal checks.
Outgoing Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who exposed these vast payment programs available to the rich, said “this reverse Robin Hood-style of wealth distribution is an intentional effort to get all Americans bought into a system where everyone appears to benefit.”
The White House normally releases the Historical Tables section of the budget — where these direct payment numbers are detailed — along with the rest of the budget documents. But while Obama released the main parts of his 2015 budget last week, he delayed the release of this little-noticed section until this week.
2 Cotswood, asking $1.695 million. The land here is pretty dodgy, but the location can’t be beat – right at the southern terminus of North Street, but set back from the traffic, and a very decent house, for this price.
I don’t know what people are waiting for, but the lack of inventory persists. Is everyone in Greenwich really so happy with their present house that they want to stay put?
465 Round Hill Road is on the tour and shown as a “new” listing, but it’s been for sale since 2011, at prices ranging from $10.995, up to $12.950 and now, that same original price, $10.995. Eventually, its owner may get her price in tune with the market but so far, not. Nice house, though, and fantastic views.
Scientists who have studied dry periods in California from the past millennium are warning that the scorching drought could last for over a hundred years.
California is currently experiencing one of its driest periods since 1580, University of California, Berkeley scientist Lynn Ingram told CBS News this week. Looking back at the past several thousand years reveals that some droughts in California have lasted more than a century.
Ingram has been examining sediments, tree rings, and microorganisms to learn about California’s temperature patterns and historical droughts. She told National Geographic last month that the 20th century might have been an anomaly and notes that, going back in history, California has been much drier and has even seen periods of mega-drought.
In medieval times, Ingram says, California and the Southwest saw a drought that lasted over a century.
She told CBS that these patterns “tend to repeat themselves” and that we can expect decades-long droughts to happen again.
In the meantime, Senate Democrats held a pajama party in the Capitol last night, where they huddled around a nonpolluting, solar-powered campfire, roasted weenies and marshmallows and told each other scary stories about global warming. They’ll address budget and pending issues later, and the reset of the Cold War, never.
A hedge-fund investor bet a billion dollars that a health company would crash on Wall Street, and then hired a crew of Democratic lobbyists to kneecap the target company.
The lobbyists for the investor, William Ackman, successfully persuaded two Democratic legislators and numerous self-described Hispanic and African-American civil-rights groups to prod regulators into investigating Herbalife Ltd., according to a lengthy article published in the New York Times.
To defend itself, Herbalife hired its own gang of Democratic lobbyists to sway congressional staff and the media, and offered $30,000 to a Hispanic civil-rights group to quit Ackman’s crew.
Ackman’s team has included two Democratic legislators, California Rep. Linda Sanchez and Massachusetts Sen. Edward J. Markey. They helped Ackman after he hired two of their former staffers to lobby for his claim.
His other lobbyists included Toby Moffett, a former Democrat Representatives from Connecticut, Robert S. Walker, a former Republican Representative from Pennsylvania.
Ackman also added people who had worked in the White House for President Barack Obama or President Bill Clinton. They included Jim Papa, at the Global Strategy Group, and Minyon Moore, who worked for Obama.
He hired the Dewey Square Group in D.C., to create a fake grass-roots protest movement.
He also hired state lobbyists to create protests in Hispanic and African-American communities in Nevada and California.
Two things: (1) I share Ackman’s suspicions about Herbalife, so I initially cheered when he denounced the company as a fraud; and (2) there’s no doubt that, were Republicans in power, Ackmann would have found and hired Republicans as his flacks. As I see it, this isn’t about the merits of Herbalife or the respective virtues of the Republican and Democratic parties. It’s about what happens when the government grows powerful enough to destroy companies – those who control that power or can influence where it is focused, get rich.
UPDATE: The NYT article, linked to above, is very thorough and worth reading if you want to see how this process works. If only the Times’ editorial board would read what their business reporters write.