Monday, December 30, 2013

The Bible and Homosexuality, Part 2: The Miseducation of Marc Hill

The title of this post is a play on former Fugees member Lauryn Hill's debut solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and not meant as a personal slight towards the subject of this post, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. I have the utmost respect for his charitable work, academic achievements and legal advocacy. However, during a previous post I pointed out where he was in error for making several statements including the following: (I've included the full quote without ellipsis for contextual purposes, the full video is provided here as well)

Dr. Hill: If you're saying that [Jesus] is confirming the Old Testament, well the Old Testament is far from clear around gay marriage or around gay acts.
Dr. Brown: Are you sure about that?
Dr. Hill: If you let me finish I'll tell you how I'm sure about it. The book of Leviticus according to most biblical scholars is not about being gay. If you're talking about the story of Sodom and Gomorrah for example it's really about being inhospitable to neighbors, it's about prostitution, it's about many other things. (emphasis added)
So I took to Twitter and posted my opinion of his appearance on the Piers Morgan Show. A few days later I followed up with the Tweet that became the subject of a back and forth between me and Dr. Hill.

My hypothesis is that Dr. Hill is grossly incorrect regarding his Old Testament interpretation. To wit, that "the Old Testament is 'far from clear' on homosexuality." Given the limitations of a tweet (140 characters) I did not provide a link to my previous blog post nor did I provide Dr. Hill the additional context of him saying "most biblical scholars" so to be fair we will examine only the context provided within the tweet. But I will address the other parts of the full quote because he had access to both the video of his statements via the parent tweet and I'm sure he remembers what he said.

Dr. Hill is correct in stating that the book of Leviticus is not about being gay. This is a straw man argument though as no one said Leviticus was about being gay.
Leviticus means "things pertaining to Levi." The book ... is a manual for priests, detailing the religious rules and procedures the priests had to observe and enforce for the covenant nation of Israel. ... The laws in the book were given to help the Israelites worship and live as God's holy people. - KJV Reference Bible (Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994)
Rather, specific laws within Leviticus address homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13). Dr. Hill also seems to imply that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is in Leviticus. It is not. The story is in Genesis 18:16-33 and Genesis 19. He should be given the benefit of the doubt that he knows this so the inference is not germane to this critique. I only note it to clarify the transcript listed above.

Dr. Hill responded to my challenge by referencing three separate "biblical scholars." I'll note later why I put the term biblical scholars in quotations.

The first reference is to Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective by Kelly Brown Douglas. There is one glaring problem with this cite. Kelly Brown Douglas is not a biblical scholar! In fact, she says so herself.
Before addressing this issue of biblical interpretation in our multicultural and ever-changing world, the first thing that I must say is perhaps that which many of you already know: I am a theologian and not a biblical scholar. While scripture is typically a significant source for much of our Christian theologies, and while our biblical interpretations inevitably have theological implications, the language, the tools and the overall nature of the disciplines are quite different. While I have a profound respect for the delicate and intricate hermeneutical skills required in the field of biblical scholarship, it is important for me to approach this timely issue as a theologian and not a biblical scholar. That said, however, there are some methodological concerns that I believe are germane to both theological and biblical interpretation and certainly significant to our discussion this afternoon. (emphasis added) - Douglas, K. (2001). Marginalized People, Liberating Perspectives: A Womanist Approach to Biblical Interpretation. Anglican Theological Review, 83(1), 41.
This is a non-trivial mistake by Dr. Hill. He mistakenly misrepresents his sources as biblical scholars when they clearly are not. Not only is Dr. Douglas not a biblical scholar, but neither is Cornel West (Philosophy, African American Studies). Dale B. Martin (Religious Study) is a biblical scholar. In fact, Dr. Martin "specializes in New Testament and Christian Origins." At first, I wanted to dismiss this as a semantic argument and move past it. However, Dr. Douglas clearly states that "the disciplines are quite different." Far be it from me to ignore the "highly regarded" expert that he cites or dismiss her "profound respect for the delicate and intricate hermeneutical skills required in the field of biblical scholarship" just because Dr. Hill seemingly does. Besides, it is possible that I'm missing something that isn't publicly available concerning Douglas and West. I think it crucial to point out this conspicuous error in his rebuttal to my request. I can only surmise that Dr. Hill was completely unaware of the difference as this is outside his field of expertise. As Thomas Sowell says in "Intellectuals and Society"
The fatal misstep of such intellectuals is assuming that superior ability within a particular realm can be generalized as superior wisdom or morality over all. - Sowell, Thomas: Intellectuals and Society (New York: Basic Books, 2009) Ch. 2
I also happen to be out of my realm of expertise (Business Systems Consulting) so rather than ending the analysis at this point I will continue as there are other significate deficiencies in the cited works.

Dr. Douglas does indeed question the Bible's admonition of homosexuality. However, she also uses a different term - homoeroticism - in her work Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective.
The irony is, however, that the Bible does not present as clear a position on homosexuality as is often self-righteously asserted. The meaning of the biblical stories customarily referred to as proof against homosexual practices has generally been misconstrued or distorted. Biblical scholars have painstakingly shown that the Leviticus Holiness Codes (Lev. 18:22; 20:13,) the story of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:1-9), and Paul's Epistle to the Romans (1:26-27) do not present a compelling case against homoeroticism. - Douglas, K.:Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1999) p.90
Homosexuality and homoeroticism are not synonymous. I'm loathed to cite Wikipedia, but for expediency sake I'll note the difference.
Homoeroticism refers to the sexual attraction between members of the same sex, either male–male or female–female. The concept differs from the concept of homosexuality: it refers specifically to the desire itself, which can be temporary, whereas "homosexuality" implies a more permanent state of identity or sexual orientation. - Wikipedia article on Homoeroticism
It's a crucial distinction because it connotatively distinguishes between homosexual acts and deeds and is Dr Hill's best case for proving my theory incorrect. In short, there is nowhere in the Bible - Old or New Testament - where it says that merely thinking about homosexual sex is prohibited.

However, that can be said for every law of mankind and is thus a meaningless distinction! Thought-crime is a concept of science fiction (e.g., the movie Equilibrium), not reality. Furthermore, the concept is encapsulated in the common religious phrase "hate the sin, not the sinner." Even Dr. Douglas cites "homosexual practices" in her rebuke of the Bible, so we shall remain in that realm and not in the realm of fantasy. Some may say that hate crimes fit within this realm but a crime must be committed before the hate crime intent can be applied.

Dr. Douglas also argues that the New Testament is silent on homosexuality.
As John Boswell accurately points out: 'No effort is made to elaborate a comprehensive sexual ethic: Jesus and his followers simply responded to situations and questions requiring immediate attention.' Therefore, as is the case with the Old Testament, the New Testament provides no indisputable position on homosexuality. op. cit. p.90
I cite this because her mention of John Boswell is crucial as you will see later.

Dr. Douglas end notes each of the above statements, citing the following as her proof of what biblical scholars have to say on this issue. The first three cites concern her Old Testament statement and the last one justifies her New Testament statement. I've found evidence to suggest that some of theses references are biblical scholars but as stated above I have already stipulated the taxonomy ad arguendo.
  1. Robin Scroggs, The New Testament and Homosexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983)
  2. John McNeil, The Church and the Homosexual (Kansas City: Sheed, Andrews and McMeel, 1976)
  3. L.D. Scanzoni & V.R. Mollencott, Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? A positive Christian Response, rev. ed (San Fran: Harper and Row, 1994)
  4. John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), p. 117
Initially I had no idea why she would list a book about the New Testament in a discussion about the Old Testament. After further research I realized that this is a common theme in the theological practice to discount the Bible's admonition of homosexuality because Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 are crystal clear. Why anyone would use text written over a thousand years after the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) to refute its meaning is sophistry in my humble opinion. But I decided to give the first cite a fair reading and I'm very glad that I did.

The New Testament and Homosexuality by biblical scholar Robin Scroggs a professor of Biblical Theology at the Union Theological Seminary in New York breaks down the arguments concerning the Bible's position on homosexuality into six different categories, four opposing homosexuality and two not opposing homosexuality. I shall include all six to avoid a counter argument of taking Prof. Scroggs out of context, but only the last two are relevant to my hypothesis.
  1. The Bible does not oppose homosexuality because it does not speak of true or innate homosexuality but rather of homosexual acts by people who are not homosexuals.
  2. The Bible opposes homosexuality, but it is just one sin among many. There is no justification for singling it out as more serious than other sins castigated in the Bible, but because of which ordination is not denied.
  3. The Bible opposes homosexuality but he specific injunctions must be placed in the larger biblical context of the theology of creation, sin, judgement, and grace.
  4. The Bible opposes homosexuality but is so time and culture-bound that its injunctions may and should be discarded if other considerations suggest better alternatives.
  5. The Bible does not oppose homosexuality because it does not speak of true or innate homosexuality but rather of homosexual acts by people who are not homosexual.
  6. The Bible does not oppose homosexuality because the texts do not deal with homosexuality in general.
What jumps out from page 16 of the book is Prof. Scroggs quote of Dr. John Boswell, the same Dr. Boswell that Dr. Douglas cites above.
"In sum, there is only one place in the writings which eventually become the Christian Bible where homosexual relationships per se are clearly prohibited - Leviticus - and the context in which the prohibition occurred rendered it inapplicable to the Christian community, at least as moral law." (emphasis added) - Scroggs, Robin: The New Testament and Homosexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983) p. 16
Did he just say what I thought he said? Based on my research Dr. Boswell clearly believes that the Bible does not oppose homosexuality. However, even he readily admits that homosexual relationships are clearly prohibited in Leviticus and there is no doubt that Leviticus is in the Old Testament! At this point, it seems clear that Dr. Hill is utterly incorrect in stating that the Old Testament is far from clear around gay marriage or around gay acts. Though it might be considered torment to continue my deconstruction of Dr. Hill's statement, I want to make sure that I give his cites due diligence and a fully objective review.

To continue with the analysis of Prof. Scroggs, I found the text very educational and am very happy to enhance my knowledge of the Bible. His analysis is thorough, presents both sides of the argument equally and provides clear and concise conclusions. I intend to thank him for his work. What's most relevant to this analysis is the statement I found on page 99.
Today's denominational debates about homosexuality revolve around the pronouncements in the New Testament. Granted, the laws in Leviticus are unequivocally opposed to male homosexual activity. Since the Old Testament is emphatic about many issues ignored or discarded by the Christian churches, however, it cannot be said that the Old Testament alone would control contemporary decisions, were it not for the fact that the New Testament repeats these negative judgments. (emphasis added) - ibid. 99
The highlighted statement ends this segment of the argument, unequivocally. How Dr. Douglas missed this I have no idea. To be completely fair, Prof. Scroggs suggests, and I agree, that biblical judgements against homosexuality are not relevant. Yet we agree for different reasons which aren't relevant to this discussion. Suffice it to say that, Prof. Scroggs concludes that pederasty was the issue of the biblical texts. Pederasty is by definition sexual activity involving a man and a boy and thus a homosexual act, so Dr. Hill will find no safe harbor in this conclusion.

We move next to former Father (he was expelled from the Jesuits in 1987 for ministry to gay people which I find abhorrent) and psychotherapist John J. McNeill. Please note that Mr. McNeill is also not a biblical scholar. He states this clearly on page 17 of his book by saying "I make no pretense to be a biblical scholar." Once again, how Dr. Douglas missed this I have no idea. Be that as it may his opinion is relevant as he also cites Dr. John Boswell's work within his book.

With regard to the treatment of the biblical material, a special word of gratitude should go to Dr. John Boswell of Yale University. It was while reading his brilliant scholarly reflections, subsequently published in Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1980), dealing with the loci in the epistles of Saint Paul supposedly concerned with homosexuality, that I first became aware that the traditional scriptural basis for the condemnation of homosexual acts as contrary to the revealed will of God was open to serious question. - McNeil, John: The Church and the Homosexual (Kansas City: Sheed, Andrews and McMeel, 1976) p. 15-16

As we have already addressed Dr. Boswell's position it would be redundant to provide additional detail here. However, at this point I'll mention another common theme of most of these critical texts. I like to call it The Magic of Liberal Context. Its precept is this: words on a page or spoken by an individual never have the explicit meaning that either the writer or the speak invokes. Rather, they must be analyzed "in context" and the liberal doing the analysis gets to define that context. Furthermore, the context is always favorable and supports their argument even if the explicit spoken or written words say the exact opposite. This is how Pastor Jeremiah Wright, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Senator Robert Byrd and many others of the political left can say the most hateful of things but be supported and held high as a positive influence because what they say is always taken out of context. There is no doubt that context is important. However, where Prof. Scroggs says the context of the Old Testament's admonition of homosexual acts is actually rejection of pederasty, Father McNeill says the context is rejection of idolatry and Dr. Hill says the context is rejection of in-hospitality and prostitution. In fact, Father McNeill makes the following claim.

It would appear, then, that [the apostle] Paul treats of homosexual activities only within the context of idol worship. The Holiness Code (Lev. 18:22, 20:13) originally established the connection between idolatry and homosexual activity. The Code specifically warns the Israelites against accepting the idolatrous practices of the Cannanites. ibid. p. 57

Leviticus does no such thing and is in no way limited to the rejection of the Cannanites. The principle concept of Leviticus is the holiness of God and of humanity as referenced in Lev. 11:45

For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

If Father McNeill is correct, is it a stretch to suggest that the entire book of Leviticus is about idolatry such that Lev. 19:11 "Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another" is really about idolatry? How are we to know which verses are about idolatry and which aren't? They will tell us of course and rest assured it will be the verses that they don't like which by pure coincidence are Lev. 18:22 and 20:13, the only two verses explicitly condemning homosexual acts. How convenient! Logically this makes no sense but these are the lengths to which they will go to prove their point.

Next we move to Letha Dawson Scanzoni and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott. Sadly, neither is a biblical scholar. In fact, Ms. Scanzoni lists no formal degrees whatsoever and Ms. Mollenkott is an English professor emeritus at William Paterson University of New Jersey. The errors in their analysis are glaring likely due to their lack of scholarship. For instance, they cite the following:

To underscore the sin of inhospitality in Sodom, [John McNeill] reminds us of Jesus' words to his disciples in Luke 10:10-13: "Whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you...I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town." - L.D. Scanzoni & V.R. Mollencott: Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? A positive Christian Response, rev. ed (San Fran: Harper and Row, 1994) p. 60

Yet they miss the context of that chapter. Luke 10 is about Jesus sending out his disciples to tell the people that the kingdom of God is coming and they are to be judged. It even says that in Luke 10:8-9, the verses just before the cite (i.e., "And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things that are set before you: and heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you." This mission is reiterated in Matthew 10:5-15 and Mark 6:6-12

Matthew 10:5-15
These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha [sic] in the day of judgment, than for that city.

Mark 6:6-12
And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats. And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha [sic] in the day of judgment, than for that city. And they went out, and preached that men should repent.

As is blatantly obvious from the biblical text the sin is not inhospitality. It's not because they didn't invite their visitors in and offer them tea and crumpets. In fact, there is no place in the bible where inhospitality is a sin and it's frivolous to suggest it as such. Hospitality is much too subjective to suggest it as a requirement of morality. Would any rational person suggest that during a home invasion if you didn't offer the robbers a drink of water you were doomed to Hell? Rather it is the rejection of Jesus' teachings and warnings that the kingdom of God is at hand that is the sin that will doom them on judgement day.

Scanzoni and Mollenkott also mention this ridiculous sin of inhospitality in reference to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis.

It should be noted that some Bible scholars do not believe that the intent of the men of Sodom was sexual. They have pointed out that the Hebrew word translated "know" may here simply indicate the townspeople's desire to find out who these strangers were and examine their credentials....Whether the intent was sexual or not, however, the strangers were treated abominably and the sin of inhospitality was committed. ibid. p. 57

This analysis is utterly ridiculous in my opinion! If the intent wasn't sexual, then why did Lot offer up his two virgin daughters in their stead in Gen. 19:8?

Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

Can we assume that Lot wanted to have his daughter's credentials examined as well? I think not and nor would any casual reader of the text. While I would agree that it's extremely inhospitality to gang rape visiting angels, I'm quite sure it's the threaten gang rape, once carried out, that is the sin and not the lack of handshakes, pleasant greetings and offers of sugar with their tea.

Next, regarding Dr. Hill's cite of Cornel West's The Cornel West Reader, I have no earthly idea why this is included. Cornel West's book is autobiographical and not a critical analysis of Old Testament text. As he says in the preface "The primary aim of this reader is to lay bare the basic structure of my intellectual work and life." I am not about to embarrass or misrepresent Dr. West by doing a critical analysis of his personal life and why he feels the way he does. I happen to completely agree with his acceptance of the homosexual community. Furthermore, there is no detailed analysis of Genesis or Leviticus anywhere in his text. Further analysis would be imbecilic and a disservice to the intent of the book. I will rather apologize for his name being mentioned in the context of this analysis and move on to the next subject.

Dr. Hill's final cite is Heterosexism and the Interpretation of Romans 1:18-32 by Dr. Dale Martin who is indeed a biblical scholar! Unfortunately for Dr. Hill, Dr. Martin has absolutely nothing to say on the Old Testament other than "the first chapters of Genesis do not explicitly recount the beginnings of idolatry and polytheism." I knew that reading this was going to be a waste of my time. After all the title explicitly describes the subject. Thankfully it was only 23 pages long. Dr. Martin's theory is that most biblical scholars are "heterosexist" even if they don't know it and, therefore, they generate heterosexist interpretations that are incorrect. I will stipulate that point ad arguendo. Nevertheless, this cite has absolutely nothing to do with the Old Testament and therefore is a gross non sequitur. Why Dr. Hill would bother to cite this work to prove his point is beyond comprehension and would be a waste of my time to offer an opinion for or against the contents.

So, if you've been keeping count five non-biblical scholars (Hill, Douglas, McNiell, Scanzoni and Mollencott) have said the Old Testament isn't about homosexuality, two biblical scholars (Scroggs and Boswell) say it is about homosexuality, one non-biblical scholar (West) offers a philosophical reason for treating homosexuals as moral equals and one biblical scholar (Martin) offers no opinion in the cite provided by Dr. Hill. At this point I must recount Dr. Hill's gloat and hubris.

Actually, no Dr. Hill I don't want you to keep going. I'm not an expert in the field of biblical scholarship but I feel that I have debunked your references and further references would likely only diminish your credibility on this subject. The flaw may be that you were supplying information "off the stop of your head" because quite often that method is drastically inadequate unless you thorough know the subject matter. I still have the utmost respect for your charitable work, academic achievements and legal advocacy. However, on this matter I believe your extemporaneous responses have been weighed, they have been measured and they have been found wanting. As I did before, I will again apologize for calling you a liar as that was grossly inappropriate. However, in the future might I again suggest that you refrain from biblical scholarship and stick to your intellectual specialty of African American Studies.

Once again, my hypothesis is that Dr. Hill is grossly incorrect regarding his Old Testament interpretation. To wit, that "the Old Testament is 'far from clear' on homosexuality." Comments are welcome as to the validity of this hypothesis given the above analysis as I welcome criticism. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have not read all of the cited works in their entirety for expedience purposes. I wanted to respond while the issue was still fresh. I accept that I might be completely wrong but I think this analysis will hold and I will continue reading and provide corrections where appropriate.

I do not expect that Dr. Hill will change his position. In fact, social psychologists would suggest that cognitive dissonance would cause my critique to strengthen his beliefs rather than change them. Cognitive dissonance is a very strong psychological force and can partially explain why Heaven's Gate and other doomsday cults commit suicide rather than face the fact that their belief systems is incorrect.

I'm not suggesting that Dr. Hill will commit suicide, that's ludicrous. Rather, it's more likely that he won't read this analysis. However, my erudition has been enhanced by this exercise and I enjoyed the experience.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Bible and Homosexuality

"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." Leviticus 18:22 KJV
"And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Matthew 19:4-5 KJV
I'm an atheist but I used to be a devoutly religious person. So much so that I have read the Bible from cover to cover, used to have many things about it memorized and have studied the texts of many other religions as well.

So, it seems pretty straightforward to me, what about you? The Bible, the Torah and the Koran (the textbooks of the three major religions) all consider homosexuality an abomination. Anyone seeking to refute that fact is either suffering from cognitive dissonance or being intellectually dishonest. But since I don't believe in the Gods described in those texts - or any other texts for that matter - I think differently.

However, to this day people are still trying to drastically misinterpret them. I was watching a clip from The Piers Morgan Show and one of the guest actually said the following:
"There are several problems with that interpretation. One, the New Testament absolutely does offer the words in the voice of Jesus and he very explicitly does not talk about being gay and even the scripture you cited about marriage is very different then talking about being gay. ... If you're saying that [Jesus] is confirming the Old Testament, well the Old Testament is far from clear around gay marriage around gay acts. ... The book of Leviticus according to most biblical scholars is not about being gay. If you're talking about the story of Sodom and Gomorrah it's really about being inhospitable to neighbors." (emphasis added) - Marc Lamont Hill
Wrong. Mr. Hill's rambling statement was utterly without merit and his appeal to authority (Argumentum ab auctoritate) is specious at best. The word sodomy (sexual intercourse involving anal or oral copulation) is directly derived from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and to say otherwise, to suggest that the story is about a civilization of people being wiped off the face of Earth by the hand of God because they weren't cordial enough to their visitors is fantasy and a trivialization of the vile nature of Sodom and Gomorrah.

It's a good thing that Dr. Michael Brown was on the show where "Hebrew scholarship is [his] background" and he has a Ph.D in Semitic languages.

If you get a chance, please read Genesis 19. Especially the part where the men of the town, when finding out that two new men are in town to visit Lot (they were actually angels), tell Lot "bring them out unto us, that we may know them." Biblical scholars definitely agree that "knowing" them means having sex with them. Lot's response is particularly disgusting as well.

The point is either you accept that the Bible, the Torah, the Koran et. al. are the word of God and his prophets or you don't. But rest assured, each is explicit in their disdain for homosexuality and to say otherwise is just a lie. Furthermore, it's always nice to see Piers Morgan making an idiot of himself. That's just the icing on the cake and a wonderful Christmas present.

Friday, December 20, 2013

It Looks Bad! Ban It!

"Because many of the e-cigarettes are designed to look like cigarettes and be used just like them, they can lead to confusion or confrontation." - City Council Speaker Christine Quinn
That's right people. We need to ban anything that looks like cigarettes, so watch out. Next, they will be banning those bubblebum cigarettes that I used to puff on when I was a kid. You remember, the ones "when you blow on them, powder comes out looking like smoke."

It seems that Mayor Bloomberg has never met a ban that he didn't like. So the nanny-state of liberal collectivism continues in one of the world's biggest cities. It's sad that NYC legislators are spending precious time banning things that have no proven negative impact on anyone.

Ironically, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute just released a study saying that there is "No Clear Link Between Passive Smoking and Lung Cancer." So, even the reason for banning actual cigarettes in public places has been proven to have zero scientific merit. But remember, we aren't dealing with science and logic. This is collectivism where perception is reality. So because secondhand smoke is a nuisance, it must be banned.

Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that there is no smoking in bar and clubs. I got tired of going home smelling as if I smoked a pack of Lucky Strikes! But I just assumed that was the risk of going out to party. Also, there were ways to avoid it. I believe in logic, freedom, science and individual responsibility. Collectivists don't. So, look out for the next ban coming your way, a ban on tweeting in public. Yes, I know it sounds silly and the linked article says there isn't a ban, but not from lack of trying!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Calling Obama "President" is Racist!

"The word was conceived of by a group of wealthy white men who needed a way to put themselves above and apart from a black man. To render him inferior and unequal and to diminish his accomplishments." - Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC
Of course you know the word she's talking about right? Is it "nigger"? No, it's ObamaCare! That's right, ObamaCare is the newest code word for nigger. Now that Martin Bashir is gone from the MSNBC airwaves, Melissa Harris-Perry has taken on the mantle of pointing out that the only reason for disliking the Obama administration's policies is racism. It can't possibly be anything else in the mind of these collectivists, because Obama is perfect in every way and has done so much to help blacks including...something. What that something is I have no idea and neither do they.

As I mentioned in a previous post, even Tavis Smiley admits "...the data is going to indicate, sadly, that when the Obama administration is over black people will have lost ground in every single leading economic indicator on that regard the president ought to be held responsible..." The Congressional Black Caucus admits "if Bill Clinton had been in the White House and had failed to address this problem, we probably would be marching on the White House." But those that dare challenge the success of Obama and his signature program are racists if they are not either Democrats or liberal progressives.

Why? Because the racist card has worked for them for almost 50 years. It keeps blacks voting for the Democratic Party at a 90% rate and above. Furthermore, it keeps black organizations in line such that they rarely complain about the failure of the Democratic Party to effectively address problems in the black community. At least not openly that is.

The list of code words or phrases for nigger has gotten quite long during the Obama administration. I've included a partial list here; skinny, IRS, bully or thug, angry, Chicago, Constitution, food stamp and PGA Tour. The list is expected to grow at an exponential rate as his signature program crumbles and his income inequality agenda fails to get implemented, but at least it has a possible limit according to Assistant House Democratic Leader, Congressional Black Caucus member and former CBC Chairman Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-SC).
"The entire English language was created by slaveowners [sic] as a means of oppression. You can’t just say that one word is a racist code word or another. The whole language, every single word, letter and apostrophe in it is racist. It’s a fact. If you speak English, you’re a racist."
Ironically, Mr. Clyburn said that quote in ENGLISH! Someone should inform Mr. Clyburn that English wasn't created in 18th century America, but was a fusion of dialects collectively termed Old English and who's origins trace back to the mid-5th century. But the knowledge of this fact wouldn't fit his meme so I'm sure he'd either ignore it or find some way to be intellectually dishonest about it.

So, because English is a racist language there will be no end to the coded words that really mean nigger. I expect when all is said and done, calling Barack Obama "President" will be a dog-whistle for evoking a racist Pavlovian response from teabaggers. Sorry, did I say teabaggers? I meant white racists because as everyone knows, the Tea Party is racist.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Dubious Global Warming Sea-Level Predictions

"Sea-level rise in this century is likely to be 70–120 centimeters by 2100 if greenhouse-gas emissions are not mitigated." Source: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
As most who know me are well aware, I'm a skeptic when it comes to claims made by global warming alarmists. In fact, I refuse to convert to calling them "climate change" alarmist because that phrase has no quantitative meaning. Climates always change and there is no single climate change theory as I've mentioned in one of my previous posts. There are at least 7 different theories on why the Earth's climate changes.

That being said, one of the predictions that have always bothered me is sea-level rise. Why? Because in order to predict sea-level rise you have to first calculate sea-level which is extraordinarily difficult. The field of study wherein sea-level is estimated is called geodesy or geodetics. There is an excellent (and very brief) YouTube video describing the immense complexities of calculating the Earth's sea-level.

As the video says, "Sea-level seems like a pretty easy concept, right? You just measure the average level of the oceans and that's that." However, there are a large number of variables to consider. I won't go into the details here. What's important is the accuracy of those estimates provided by geodetics. As the video states, "The model has allowed Geodesists themselves to correctly predict the average level of the ocean to within a meter everywhere on earth." In mathematics, this concept is called statistical significance. It means that measurements less than this statistical significance have a higher probablity of being due to just chance alone or random fluctuations in the calculation process. So, if the statistically significant sea-level measurement is approximately 1 meter, how can a climate impact study make a prediction that both varies below that measure (i.e., a variance of 50 centimeters ) and whose predicted increase is only 20 centimeters above the statistically significant measurement?

The answer is that it can't! It's like having a meter stick with no markings on it and measuring an object as being 70 centimeters. That my friends is what we call a SWAG (scientific wild-ass guess.) Factoring in this concept, let's rewrite the opening quote to adjust for mathematics and favor the alarmists.
"Sea-level rise in this century is likely to be 0-2 meters by 2100 if greenhouse-gas emissions are not mitigated."
Doesn't sound so precise or scientific anymore, does it. This implies that there could be no impact or high impact. That's the point and they are hoping no one notices!

ObamaCare, Fantasy versus Reality

"What we have in California, then, is a proof of concept. Yes, Obamacare is workable — in fact, done right, it works just fine." - Paul Krugman, New York Times, Nov. 25 2013
Krugman is of course wrong, but then again when has that ever stopped him from declaring something a success. It was recently reported that over 1 million California's received letters cancelling their health insurance. To call it a success, Mr. Krugman says that "...more than 10,000 applications are being completed per day." That's nice but those are applications, not enrollments and there is a huge difference. What matters is being enrolled. You don't get health insurance coverage just for applying!

In any case, even if we assume that everyone that had their health insurance cancelled in California was able to both apply and enroll at the rate provided by Mr. Krugman (very unlikely) it would take 100 days to replace the coverage lost because of Obamacare. Since enrollment started on October 1st and enrollment must be completed by December 23rd for January 1st coverage, that only leaves 84 days by my calculation. Some people are just going to be left without coverage. That's hardly successful in my book, but then again these are very optimistic progressive metrics, not real metrics.

Ironically, Mr. Krugman mentions among the successes in Obamacare the state of Massachusetts. I say ironically, because the official title of the legislation is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Yet health insurance is more expensive in Massachusetts than almost anywhere else in the country (except in some cases Alaska)! So much for affordable health insurance.

Tragically, the debacle that is Obamacare was predicted in excruciating detail by Professor Richard Allen Epstein in a debate with Dr. Judith M. Feder during the inaugural New York University Law Forum debate who's topic was "The Debate over Health Care Reform." As of the writing of this post there have been only 4,655 views of this debate via YouTube, which is equally tragic because Professor Epstein's detailed analysis of the Obamacare legislation is both impressive and amazingly prescience. Over the course of an hour, Professor Epstein utterly distroys almost every assumption and prediction of the Obamacare supporters with both reasoned logic and detailed critical analysis. The scary part of his analysis is not what he got right already, but the predictions about legislation that have yet to be implemented.

So, while Paul Krugman may call California a proof of concept. Proof of an unworkable concept is hardly conforting.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Why Black Leadership Continues to Fail Black America

"Mr. Cohen asked for admission, and he got his answer. He's white and the caucus is black. It's time to move on. We have racial policies to pursue and we are pursuing them, as Mr. Cohen has learned. It's an unwritten rule. It's understood." - Rep. William Lacy Clay, Jr. (D-MO)
The above quote from c.2006 is what Rep. William Clay had to say about Rep. Steve Cohen, Tennessee's 1st Jewish congressman representing a district that has a 60%+ black constituency. Rep. Cohen wanted to help the black cause. He was rejected because he's white. Blantant, overt racism. If you want to know why the current African-American experience is so horrible in America you need only look at the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to find the leading clues.

By a tragic coincidence, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded by several non-colored people including Lillian Wald (German Jew) and Henry Moskowitz (Romanian Jew). The NAACP was incorporated in 1911 with the following charter:
To promote equality of rights and to eradicate caste or race prejudice among the citizens of the United States; to advance the interest of colored citizens; to secure for them impartial suffrage; and to increase their opportunities for securing justice in the courts, education for the children, employment according to their ability and complete equality before law.
Furthermore, for decades the organization was overwhelmingly non-black and mostly Jewish. In fact, it didn't elect its first black president until 1975! Its first president was Moorfield Storey a supporter of the National Democratic Party, which was essentially anti-Democratic Party organization (i.e., Republican by modern standards.) You'll also note that although non-blacks played a pivotal and overwhelming role in the history of the NAACP only one, Mary White Ovington, is given prominent billing on its historical web page. That is not by happenstance.

I provide this historical context to make the following statement. Both the NAACP and the CBC are governing over a failing black America because the success of black Americans is neither in their goals or their self-interests. For that matter, you can include National Action Network (Al Sharpton's group) the Rainbow PUSH Coalition (Jesse Jackson's group.)

How can I possibly say that with such confidence? Because they are organized not to achieve or strive for success for all black Americans. Rather, they are organized to achieve liberal/collectivist perceptions of what is best for a subset of black Americans. It's the only way that Tavis Smiley can respond to a question about the status of black Americans under the Obama administration with a straight face and say "...the data is going to indicate, sadly, that when the Obama administration is over black people will have lost ground in every single leading economic indicator on that regard the president ought to be held responsible..." and can continue to say "I respect the president, I will protect the president."

Another indication is CBC Chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) saying "If Bill Clinton had been in the White House and had failed to address this problem, we probably would be marching on the White House." He was speaking of the nearly 17% unemployment rate for blacks.

One concrete example they are ignoring the advancement of colored people is their hostility towards school vouchers. There have been numerous polls suggesting that the overwhelming majority of blacks support school vouchers. This is understandable because of tragically broken public school systems all over the nation, and especially in the South. However, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) are adamantly against school vouchers. Both the NEA and AFT give almost all their political donations to either support Democrats who oppose school vouchers or oppose Republicans who support school vouchers. Studies suggest that school voucher programs help to educate blacks and move them on to higher education.

Despite this evidence that school vouchers help advance black youths (and for that matter youths of all minority groups) can you guess the stance of the organizations that purport to help blacks? The NAACP, CBC, NAN and PUSH are all opposed to school voucher programs. All of these supposedly black organizations are actually for the advancement of the Democratic Party and its associated support groups like the NEA and AFT.

And its not just education where these organization differ from the black community's desires. When California's Proposition 8 providing that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California" was passed, 70% of blacks voted for it. All of the above black organizations are for gay marriage. (Full disclosure: I support gay marriage.)

In order to fix the problems in the black community from a political standpoint, the NAACP, CBC, NAN and PUSH need to take suggestions from the country's most successful civil rights lobby group. The National Rifle Association which is constantly ranked among the most powerful lobby organization in Washington D.C. each year. This organization is successful for two major reasons. Primarily, its members have what is commonly called skin in the game. They have a vested interest in making sure the 2nd Amendment - and thus citizen firearm ownership - adhere to "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Think of the fable regarding the chicken and the pig regarding breakfast.
A Pig and a Chicken are walking down the road.
The Chicken says: "Hey Pig, I was thinking we should open a restaurant!"
Pig replies: "Hm, maybe, what would we call it?"
The Chicken responds: "How about 'ham-n-eggs'?"
The Pig thinks for a moment and says: "No thanks. I'd be committed, but you'd only be involved!"
The NAACP, CBC, NAN and PUSH have that in common with the NRA. What they do incorrectly is put all of their eggs into one basket, via the Democratic Party. The NRA doesn't do this. Rather, the NRA has a very effective guiding policy to "endorse any incumbent politician who supports its positions, even if the challenger supports them as well." They know Washington D.C. protects incumbents and they don't care which party an incumbent belongs to. So no matter who's in power at any give time, the NRA holds both sides accountable for implementing their policies. The NAACP, CBC, NAN and PUSH are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Democratic Party. It can be argued the Democratic Party has so much control over blacks that they can utterly ignore their desired policies, knowing that they have nowhere else to go.

This is what the presidential architect of "The Great Society" had in mind. Lyndon B. Johnson once said "I'll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years." His plan?
"These Negroes, they're getting pretty uppity these days and that's a problem for us since they've got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we've got to do something about this, we've got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference." — Lyndon B. Johnson (emphasis added)
I don't have definitive proof that LBJ said this. However, what followed was:
The Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964
The Food Stamp Act of 1964 (Welfare)
The Voting Rights Act of 1965
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965
The Higher Education Act of 1965
The Social Security Act of 1965, Title XIX (Medicaid)
The Civil Rights Act of 1968
I'm not suggesting that all of this legislation was inherently bad. In fact, much of it was good and necessary at the time. Rather, I'm positing the proposition that the intent of much of the legislation was not to fix problems in the black community. It was to have those "niggers" voting Democratic, and it worked so well that it is now commonplace to have the Democratic Party garner 90% of the black vote in almost every modern election.

Which brings us back to Tavis Smiley's realization that "...the data is going to indicate, sadly, that when the Obama administration is over black people will have lost ground in every single leading economic indicator on that regard the president ought to be held responsible..." (emphasis added). Unfortunately, Obama will not be held responsible by any of the organizations mentioned in this post. Maybe it's finally time for a change Tavis? However, I won't hold my breath because the current black power structure will never admit that things need to change. White guilt is too lucrative! Instead, the torch will pass from Obama to Hillary Clinton to continue to disappoint.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Lying Is A Liberal Virtue

"No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what." - Barack Obama, June 2009
I honestly believe that all successful politicians lie regardless of their political ideology. They likely do this because the moment one takes an honest stance on a issue, a large portion of the electorate will not support them. Our uninformed electorate is partially responsible for this. That being said, I also believe that "progressive" politicians are not only innate liars, it is an existentially and essentially component of their political philosophy.

Uninformed progressive followers will immediately point to George W. Bush and his lies about the Iraq War. They will of course ignore the unequivocal fact that every major intelligence agency in the world thought that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that they were all wrong. Being completely wrong is not lying. Rather, saying "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky," knowing that she blew you is the essence of a lie.

Segue to president Barack Obama and his years of continuous lies from the time he entered public office until likely 30 seconds ago. Progressives knew that Barack was lying about his association with Rev. Wright and his racist and anti-American ideology. They didn't care. He supported a federal single-payer health plan, was against any restrictions on abortion and in support of laws to ban the manufacture, sale and even possession of handguns. At least that's what he said on a 12 page questionnaire. He then lied, saying a staffer filled out that questionnaire. Progressives didn't care and neither did the mainstream media (which is redundant.) There are so many lies that its hard to keep track but at least some have tried. I won't try to catalogue them all.

The point is that there's a reason for all the lying. Progressives can't be 100% honest about how they want to remake the United States of America into their collectivist utopia because they know that the overwhelming majority of American's would reject their agenda. The most effective way for them to move their agenda forward is to be dishonest about it. In fact, they are so used to lying that even in situations where its unnecessary they lie.

The most obvious example is the gay marriage issue. As a libertarian, I support gay marriage. But did anyone really believe that Obama's religious faith guided him on gay marriage? If so, then he first believed marriage was only between a man and a woman. Then his position was "evolving". Finally, he fully supported gay marriage. Last I checked, Barack Obama was a Christian. Christianity hasn't changed its position on gay marriage for centuries! What happened is that he made a political decision to be against gay marriage because he perceived that as the position to get him elected. When that political reality changed, he changed. End of story.

I point out this instance because it shows that he is devoid of any moral conviction or principled stance on anything. Yes, anything! I fully believe that there is no issue, including abortion, that he wouldn't "evolve" his position if it were politically expedient. That makes him morally bankrupt.

He can push aside all morality and decency to do this because Obama's religion is not Christianity, it is leftist ideology. The holy sacrament is Machiavellianism, where then ends justify the means. The scriptures are Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" and Karl Marx's "Communist Manifesto." He is its most recent prophet and they are still awaiting the Messiah who's only virtues are dishonesty and dogmatic adherence to the ideology.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Our Reps Don't Know The Law*

"No health information is required in the application and why is that? Because pre-existing conditions don't matter. So once again we have my Republican colleagues trying to scare everybody. ... HIPAA doesn't apply. There's no health information in the process. You're asked about your address, your date of birth, you're not asked health information so why are we going down this path?" - Rep. Frank Pallone (D - NJ)
Representative Pallone went on to call the PPACA Implementation Failures hearing by the Energy and Commerce Committee of the House of Representatives a "monkey court."

Well, someone seems to have misinformed Rep. Pallone but you'll likely get no retraction from him because as I've said in a previous blog entry the truth doesn't matter to most leftist political leaders. His cause is the religion of collectivist utopia where the Machiavellian process is not only moral, it's an absolutely necessity.

So what's the truth? The site requires an individual to set up an account before they can browse health insurance plans. On the very first setup screen it asks the website user to enter the information in the picture below:
Note what's included: name, state and email address. It asks for additional information later, but rather than getting into the entire site let's examine page one. The HIPAA Privacy Rule clearly states that "'Individually identifiable health information" is information, including demographic data..." Trust me when I tell you that your state is demographic data. More importantly, it clearly says that the data also relates to information that:
"...identifies the individual or for which there is a reasonable basis to believe it can be used to identify the individual. Individually identifiable health information includes many common identifiers (e.g., name, address, birth date, Social Security Number)." (emphasis added)
Now I don't know about you, but if someone gives me their first, last and middle name, email address and state I can definitely find them. In fact, Facebook uses those elements in its primary search engine to look up users! In addition, as Rep. Pallone says "You're asked about your address, your date of birth..." HIPAA distinctly calls this "individually identifiable health information."

So Rep. Frank Pallone (D - NJ) was not just wrong. He was as Isaac Asimov put it "wronger than wrong":
"When people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."
I've tried calling his office to correct the record but they won't answer my questions because I'm not from his district. Maybe you can try.

Washington, DC Office
237 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4671

*CORRECTION: While I still believe that Rep. Barton was 100% incorrect about the personal data being provided on Healthcare website, there is a strong argument that Rep. Barton was also incorrect. Per HIPAA, the law only applies to "covered entities" and its not clear that CGI Federal is among that group. To be a covered entity you have to be either a Health Care Provider, Health Plan or Health Care Clearing House.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Why I DON'T Believe The Climate Change Hysteria

I was having a Facebook debate with a meteorologist acquaintance of mine only a little while ago and the conversation got off on a tangent about Climate Change. He was making several very technical points about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) and how the lack of temperature increase over the past 15 years was explained in the data extracted from the Agro system for observing various metrics in the Earth's oceans. Yeah, I know. Really boring! I exited the debate with a reference to the CLOUD experiment at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which attempts to discern a link between galactic cosmic rays and cloud formation. This point was not trivial because contrary to the level of discussion in the media about carbon dioxide, the biggest contributing gas to the Greenhouse effect is water vapor (up to 75%). Please note that clouds are merely visible water vapor.

Okay, there's the context. Here's the first point. I'm not a climatologist and neither is my co-debater. In fact, neither is Al Gore, Barack Obama, Rachel Maddow, Paul Krugman or any of the other very high profile provocateurs of Climate Change Hysteria (CCH.) Even in the case of Al Gore, he has no specific disciplinary certifications or peer reviewed scientific publications that make him a better arbiter of Global Warming Theory than you or me.

Notice how I switched from saying Climate Change to Global Warming Theory. That's because there is no single Climate Change Theory per se. That name is essentially a political creation due to the lack of actual warming of the climate. Like when liberals stopped calling themselves liberals and decided to go with "progressive" because the former moniker became a pejorative. There are at least 7 different theories on why the Earth's climate changes (the climate always changes): Global Warming, Bio-thermostat, Cloud formation and albedo, Human forcings besides greenhouse gases, Ocean currents, Planetary motion and Solar variability. But I digress.

It's very important to note that current Global Warming Theory has no experimental framework. In other words, there is absolutely no lab based experiment that can prove current Global Warming Theory. Almost everything is based on assumptions about the observed environmental impact of multiple climate variables. Those assumptions are documented by a Systems Analyst who writes a functional specification for a software engineer that subsequently converts that specification into programming code; a Climate Model application is born. So every IPCC assessment is essentially based on the output of a computer application, not a lab test. As the "scientific" observations mount and the data grows, the application is modified to incorporate the new model requirements. It's crucial to understand this, because the Climate Model application does exactly what the programmer tells it to do! So, if the programmer doesn't code for the other 6 climate theories then the model won't produce results supporting those theories.

The second point is, given a lack of special knowledge and understanding, those provocateurs can only logically believe in CCH because someone else told them to be concerned and they believed them. Yes, its a belief system my friends, no different than a religion. That's why they reference supporting data like the number of climatologists that concur with the theory. Scientific consensus they call it. Here's the thing though, there was "scientific consensus" that the universe was expanding at a decreasing rate. This was taken as dogma for decades until in 2001 three scientists proved that wrong. That's right only 3. They won the 2011 Noble Prize in Physics "for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae." This new theory of universe expansion has called into question our understanding of how gravity works!

Which brings us back to the CLOUD experiments at CERN. If, as preliminary results have indicated, cloud formation is greatly impacted by galactic cosmic rays then the outcome of these laboratory experiments may just turn modern Global Warming Theory on its head. Furthermore, it may better explain the lack of warming over the past 15 years given that solar variation has been limited in recent years. In other words, the science is not settled and never was.

However, policy makers are trying to force closure on this issue because they know as more research is done, the Global Warming Theory may fall apart. Hence the rush to enact those policies.

This directly leads to my final point. The policies mitigating Climate Change have been esposed by environmentalist, socialist, collectivist, Democratic policy makers and even PETA for a very long time. How amazingly convenient that they now have a cause célèbre to push those policies. To wit, if you don't follow what they've always wanted to do for decades, then the destruction of humankind is imminent. Wait, that sounds familiar. A book from 1968 called The Population Bomb predicted catastrophe for humankind because of population growth. It suggested many of the same policies. Guess what? The authors were wrong on all counts despite their continued insistence of the validity of their predictions to this day (liberals never give up.)

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!

Future and the Affordable Care Act

"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there'd be a shortage of sand." ― Milton Friedman
The failures of the website were easier to predict than Alex Rodriguez using performance enhancing drugs. After 3 weeks of system failures, the Democratic apologists are out in full force. They have a unified message and they are sticking to it. It has four parts:
  1. Admit that the initial release of has its problems.
  2. Insist the problems will get fixed so there's nothing to worry about.
  3. Justify #2 by saying that several of the state exchanges work "just fine" and that fact will translate to the federal health insurance system working fine as well.
  4. These technical problems have nothing to do with the law. The Affordable Care Act is still a good law.
All of these excuses mask the real problem. In my opinion, the federal government has never successfully implemented and maintained an effective and efficient social program in the history of this Republic. Not one. There are and were dramatic flaws with every social problem ever implemented by the federal government. So much so that the three major ones - Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are all functionally insolvent.

I don't want to get bogged down in a discussion of those three programs, but I do need to provide some context. As the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds report says, "Neither Medicare nor Social Security can sustain projected long-run programs in full under currently scheduled financing." In addition, there is no actual money in the trust funds for those programs. As noted during the Clinton administration 13 years ago in 2000 in the FY 2000 Budget, Analytical Perspectives p. 337:
"These balances are available to finance future benefit payments and other trust fund expenditures — but only in a bookkeeping sense. These funds are not set up to be pension funds, like the funds of private pension plans. They do not consist of real economic assets that can be drawn down in the future to fund benefits. Instead, they are claims on the Treasury that, when redeemed, will have to be financed by raising taxes, borrowing from the public, or reducing benefits or other expenditures. (emphasis added)"
Medicaid doesn't even have a trust fund and has always been functionally insolvent, requiring greater and greater government borrowing to finance its expenditures each year. This is a major reason why the states don't want to expand their Medicaid rolls, because they know after 2019 they will be on the hook. Despite what Paul Krugman says, that additional cost would not be "trivial."

Other failed government social programs include Affirmative Action, Welfare, TANF, Unemployment Insurance and the war on drugs. Sure, they are popular. But an anti-poverty program of giving away $100,000 to every U.S. citizen with at least a high school degree would be an overwhelmingly popular program as well. That doesn't mean it would work.

And therein lays the problem. Because it doesn't matter if the or the Affordable Care Act ever works. They are subject to be judged by their intentions rather than their results as are all liberal programs. Eventually, the perception of these programs doing good obscures the reality of their failure.

As I said in a previous post, modern liberalism isn't just a set of political ideals; it's a religion as powerful as Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The faithful will always believe that their programs work until they don't. When they don't they will blame the infidels, in this case conservative Republicans. In fact, in the coming weeks, watch for the blame game to start. Despite the tiny $93 million cost for this software project (in government terms) Democrats will blame a lack of funding and Republican obstruction. By the way, it's rare that a software development project's projected size is accurate. It's likely twice that and maybe more given the errors.

Also, look for this meme: if only we had gone to single payer by expanding Medicare this wouldn't have been a problem. This is of course the ultimate goal of ObamaCare; Total government control of the health care and health insurance industries.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Cognitive Bias of the Left

"A cognitive bias is a pattern of deviation in judgment, whereby inferences about other people and situations may be drawn in an illogical fashion. Individuals create their own "subjective social reality" from their perception of the input. ... Thus, cognitive biases may sometimes lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality."
I just finished reading an article entitled "Impeach Obama!" in The New Yorker. It suggests that president Obama should invoke the 14th Amendment's statement that "[T]he validity of the public debt of the United States ... shall not be questioned" in order to unilaterally increase the debt limit. Despite my obsession with constitutional law I am not a legal scholar, so I won't spend a lot of time on the legality of this request. Furthermore, that is not my biggest problem with this article. However, a plain modern reading of the clause suggests that whenever the U.S. issues a debt instrument, if ever confronted in a court of law about whether a U.S. created debt instrument is valid, the answer must always be yes.

It takes a denial or complete misunderstanding of a hundred of years of legal precedent and wilful ignorance of the Liberty Bond Act of 1917 (law that established the statutory debt limit) to make this leap of logic. Or, per my opening quote, it just takes cognitive bias. But as anyone that holds general obligation bonds from the city of Detroit can tell you, just because its valid doesn't mean it will get paid.

A default, in very simple terms, is not getting back the money you were promised. In fact, since the ratification of the 14th Amendment the United States has defaulted not once, but twice! We defaulted in 1934, with Executive Order 6102 (and other legislative actions during the early 1930's), where FDR made it illegal to "hoard" gold and refused to honor gold contracts. The second time was in 1971 where President Nixon refused to exchange dollars for gold despite the language written right on all U.S. currency saying "...and is redeemable in lawful money at the United States Treasury, of at any Federal Reserve Bank." In case you didn't know, the bills you hold in your purses and wallets are not money, they are currency and there's a HUGE difference. But that's a completely different discussion.

So, no matter what president Obama says, defaulting on the U.S. debt would not be "the first time in history" that it has happened.

Sorry for that diversion, but it sets up my real concern. Leftist love a crisis, even a manufactured one, because they use the inherent irrationality of the public to institute policies that under normal conditions would unlikely be considered. In this case, the author Hendrik Hertzberg is requesting nothing short of an Obama dictatorship (yes, dictators are elected as well.) He openly suggests that Obama should subvert the Constitution because he can't be impeached for doing it. Of the many things Obama would have to ignore in the Constitution and the United States Code would be:

Article 1, Section 7, Paragraph 1
"All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives"

Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 2
"The Congress shall have power ... To borrow money on the credit of the United States."

Article 2, Section 3, Paragraph 1
"...he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

United States Code Title 31, Section 3101, paragraph (b)
"The face amount of obligations issued under this chapter ... may not be more than $14,294,000,000,000, outstanding at one time, subject to changes periodically made in that amount as provided by law through the congressional budget process ...."

Hertzberg suggests that Obama would be greeted as a conquering hero because he'd only be guilty of "...saving the nation’s economy, and the world’s." You see, leftist don't intrinsically dislike dictatorships or totalitarian governments (Fidel Castro anyone?) They are unconcerned with John Dalberg-Acton's admonition that "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." As long as the dictator is benevolent, everything is fine. This can be seen in the socialist, politically pornographic, Pre-Code Hollywood era (1933) film "Gabriel Over the White House." As well as in a video by Kfir Alafia and Alan Davidson's video "Crashing the Protests" where they crash an A.N.S.W.E.R. anti-war rally and a woman actually says:
"If a dictator provides clean water for their people... if they provide free health care, I like that dictator. If he provides university and education for everyone, I like that dictator."
Some would say our American society would never allow a dictator to take control of our lives. I'm not so certain, especially if the economic conditions in America are bad enough. The movie mentioned above was created during the Great Depression and the heroic lead is modeled after FDR. This may seem small, but New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg attempted to outlawed the sale and distribution of all 32 ounce sugary beverages. He had overwhelming support from the liberal, Whole Foods, anti-GMO, Climate Change, anti-Fracking, Gaia hypothesis community of NYC. Of course the courts overturned his law unanimously. But we can't always rely on our court system to protect our freedoms (see Affordable Care Act's individual mandate.) Remember, judges are people and they have agendas too.

I'm reminded of a famous poem by Martin Niemöller that is on a large monolith at the end of the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston. I've taken some poetic license with it:
They came first for the 32 ounce sugary beverage drinkers,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a beverage drinker.
Then they came for the gun owners,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a gun owner.
Then they came for the health care free riders,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a health care free rider.
Then they came for the Republicans,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Democrat.
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.
I'm not suggesting that we are headed for a new holocaust. Nor do I think that Godwin's Law has been invoked here, but that's debatable. Rather, I'm suggesting that the road to serfdom is also paved with good intentions.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Affirmative Action: The Road To Hell

Four years ago I wrote my first post regarding affirmative action. In part, it was in response to a proposed Michigan law modifying their constitution and outlawing racial preferences.

Today, the federal constitutionality of that amendment was argued in front of the Supreme Court. As mentioned before, the law states the following:
"The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting."
It's tragic that so-called civil rights groups are today arguing that the state SHALL discriminate on behalf of minorities. It makes me think of Fredrick Douglass's speech given at the Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in Boston in 1865 entitled "What the Black Man Wants." The most relevant part in my mind is this:
"Everybody has asked the question, and they learned to ask it early of the abolitionists, 'What shall we do with the Negro?' I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are wormeaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall!"
Unfortunately, the mischief continues because of the good intentions of others. But remember, how that road to Hell is paved!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The "Affordable" Care Act



1. inexpensive; reasonably priced.
"affordable housing"
Affordable? Says who? Here's a tip when analysing statements made by politicians or anyone for that matter. As a Systems Analyst, I can't write a software specification that includes subjective, qualitative words. That's because there is absolutely no programming language that allows for subjective code to accomplish a task. For instance, when you're on a ticket purchasing website and you choose the "best available" seats, you can be assured that each seat has a numeric value defining how good the seat is that can be ordered with regard to all other seats. The program will sort the remaining available seats by this numeric value. There is also a mathematical algorithm use to calculate a seat's numeric value, likely some combination of distance from the activity being viewed and optimal viewing angle.

So when the Affordable Care Act was introduced my first question was how are they going to define affordable? How will they know what I think is affordable? That's the problem with quasi-socialists programs. They remove that decision from the individual and designate, via fiat, what is and isn't affordable regardless of whether we as citizens agree. In short, its affordable because we say so!

That's where socialist governments are efficient: they make the necessary long term investment which benefit the community not the individual profit. - Philippe Cl (in response to Solyndra failing because there isn't a viable solar energy market in the United States)
Look at all the squishy words is this statement. Efficient, necessary, long term, benefit, community. Each of these words are meaningless without details behind them. How do you define efficient? Who get to define what is and isn't necessary? What is long term? 10 years? 20 years? Who gets to define is something is a benefit or a detriment? Finally, what is the population of this community? All citizens? Only those without cheap energy? Only those that are poor?

Collectivist believe that elites know the answers to these questions and know what's best for us. In fact, they arrogantly say that anyone voting for anyone other than them are voting against their own self interest. The hubris is astounding, because of course they can't possibly know what's best of all 310 million Americans.

We are seeing now that the Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable. But a little common sense and the mind of a Systems Analyst could have let you know from the beginning that their task was impossible.

Monday, October 7, 2013

What's In A Name? A Lot Shakespeare!

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy; thou art thyself, though not a Montague. What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man. O, be some other name! What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
Obama recently gave his opinion on the Washington Redskins suggest name change. I'm sure you know what he thinks, but what do I think? I totally agree. Coincidentally, my high school's sports mascot used to be the Rickards Redskins! It was changed in 2000 because of its racial overtone. It is now the Rickards Raiders.

If it had been the Rickards Niggers or Rickards Spear Chuckers it would have been changed long before that in my opinion. Washington will change their mascot eventually. They should have changed it a long time ago. Besides, I'm a Dallas Cowboys fan and have always disliked the Washington team, division rivals that they are. So there's that as well.

By the way, I've never liked how people use the phrase "the n-word" or "the c-word" for that matter. Not saying the word just gives it more power. It's just a word. What matters is the meaning the word implies.

Useful Idiots

I was working on a blog post a few days ago about the debt-to-GDP ratio and how useless it is as a debt service metric when I realized just how fucking boring it was! No doubt I'll eventually post it, but only 2% of the population will care and there's a good chance that none of my blog readers will.

It made me realize that I need to focus on the stuff that people might care about. That's going to be tough because most people just don't care about politics. For instance, I'm constantly reminded that there are millions of American's out there that are completely clueless about federal budgeting and the continuing resolution process given the current government shutdown. Instead, they treat the political process like a Red Sox versus Yankees rivalry rather than a substantive argumentative process meant to accomplish meaningful policy that will enhance the nation or at least move us forward as a nation.

Here are some basics that most American's don't seem to know.

  • All revenue generating bills must originate in the House of Representatives. (see Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution)
  • The Senate is required, by law, to create a budget each fiscal year (they haven't done it in 4 years)
  • The Federal Reserve Act prohibits the Federal Reserve Bank from lending directly to the U.S. Treasury

I don't expect everyone to be as passionate as I am about politics, or especially the outcome of the recent government shutdown. However, some talk the talk but can't walk the walk. I sometimes let myself get caught in conversations with these "useful idiots" until at some point I realize they have no idea what they are talking about. They are merely spouting cliché political phrases or rooting for what they consider to be the home team. I'd give examples but that's not important. What is important is that my time is precious and I can't waste it having meanless conversations with someone that has the intellectually curiosity of a 3 year old.

More importantly, what am I going to do with all this knowledge I'm accumulating. I haven't figured that out yet, but stay tuned! By the way, I'm a Red Sox fan and actually do care about them as well. Just not as much as politics.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Obama's Pseudologia Fantastica

"Raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over 100 times, does not increase our debt." - President Barack Obama
I figured out how president Obama does it! The man can't possibly have a moral center because his ability to look into a camera and lie is truly awe inspiring. He knows that raising the debt ceiling will allow him to increase the national debt. It's a mathematical certainty. He lacks compunction for all the boldface lies he tells. I'm told by our mainstream media that Obama is extremely intelligent, so I can't attribute his singular ability to do this to diminished intellectual capacity.

I figured it out when I was researching Dr. Paul R. Ehrlich, environmentalist and author of 1968 alarmist tome The Population Bomb. I was researching this because his book as well as the Eugenics craze and the DDT scare reminded me of how leftists get things implemented in this society. I was trying to determine how the Climate Change hoax and hysteria is going to end. In short, virtually everything that Dr. Ehrlich predicted in this rehash of Malthusianism (i.e., mass starvation of humans in the 1970s and 1980s due to overpopulation, as well as other major societal upheavals) was wrong. Yet Dr. Ehrlich insists that many of his fundamental ideas and predictions have been proven by science. He is of course completely wrong and is the poster child for cognitive dissonance.

Who worked with this man to develop the theories and predictions in The Population Bomb and participated in a failed bet on those predictions? Dr. John Paul Holdren, the current senior advisor to President Barack Obama on science and technology issues. I'll give it to leftists. They go out of their way to protect their own. Ideology trumps EVERYTHING! Failed leftist almost always end up in academia with a tenured position. Its not a coincidence.

There's the thread. Here's my observation on why Obama can lie without compunction. He religiously believes in the cause he's trying to forward. I can only surmise that he's a devout Machiavellian and therefore will do anything to forward the leftist movement. Just look at what he said on the Senate floor just 7 years ago. In 2006, he called increasing the debt limit a "failure of leadership." But now that he's the leader, its essential to our democracy. Furthermore, he knows he has a co-dependent media that will whitewash his every move.

Obama will say or do anything to forward the cause and that's the advantage that the left has over the right. For the right, their religion is the God of Abraham, Isiah and Issac. For the left, their religion is the implementation of a utopian society brought on by collectivist ideals where everything and everybody is equal. Of course, that society has never existed in human history and is grandly unrealistic. What is more likely to happen is a society that mirrors the environment detailed in Kurt Vonnegut's short story, Harrison Bergeron.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Military-Style Assault Weapons

Literally minutes after the recent mass shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington D.C. the anti-gun lobby was at it again. They jumped the gun (pun intended) by assuming the gunman used an AR-15 rifle, but dispite that mistake they are still pushing the language of gun control. More specifically, they are adamant about banning semiautomatic military-style assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines. As the story goes, these are the firearms that allow a gunman to fire a large number of rounds quickly and without having to reload. According to them, if these are banned there will be a significant reduction in mass shootings and citizens will be safer.

I was going to dissect the phrase "semiautomatic military-style assault weapon" but that's been done ad nauseam since 1994. Rather, let's dissect the argument itself.

According to the 2013 assault weapon legislation submitted by Dianne Feinstein assault weapons are:

"All semiautomatic rifles that can accept a detachable magazine and have at least one military feature: pistol grip; forward grip; folding, telescoping, or detachable stock; grenade launcher or rocket launcher; barrel shroud; or threaded barrel."
These features make the rifle displayed below "military-style" but there's something crucial missing in the analysis. Of the military features listed, which one makes the rifle dangerous from a functional perspective? The grip and stock characteristics make the firearm easier to hold and adjustable for different situations. Not a single mass murder in the history of the United States has included the gunman launching grenades or rockets at their targets! Furthermore, why is a barrel shroud (the cylindrical part directly above the word "Bayonet" in the picture below) dangerous? It's sole purpose is to prevent the gunman from injuring themselves on a hot barrel.

Basically, these are features that make and AR-15 rifle look like its military counterpart. But looks and functionality are completely different things. There are multiple assault rifles (this term is a real one with distinct functional meaning and not meaningless the phrase "assault weapon") that are standard issue for the U.S. military. They are the M14, M16A4, M4 carbine, Heckler Koch HK416 (special forces), FN Herstal Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle and the Mk 14 Enhanced Battle Rifle. They all have a similar function that the AR-15 and all the rifles in the 2013 assault weapon legislation don't have. SELECTIVE FIRE!

"A selective fire firearm has at least one semi–automatic and one automatic mode, which is activated by means of a selector which varies depending on the weapon's design. Some selective fire weapons utilize burst fire mechanisms to limit the maximum number of shots fired automatically in this mode. The most common limits are two or three rounds per trigger pull. Fully automatic fire refers to the ability for a rifle to fire continuously until the magazine is empty. "Burst-capable" fire refers to the ability of a rifle to fire a small yet fixed multiple number of rounds with one trigger pull. Semi-automatic refers to the ability to fire one round per trigger pull."
Military personal don't use semiautomatic rifles in the field. They are inadequate for combat.

So, from a functional perspective the assault rifles they are trying to ban behave like your typical Chiappa White Rhino Revolver. Don't believe me? For comparison, here are videos of the worlds fastest shooter, Jerry Miculek, firing 6 rounds from a Chiappa White Rhino Revolver and an AR-15 Modern Sporting Rifle. Note that each firearm requires one trigger pull per round fired. There no dramatic difference in the time needed to get off six rounds, is there?

What else is a major component of the ban? Large capacity magazines, defined as a magazine that accepts more than 10 rounds. There is no coherent explanation for the 10 round limit. It is arbitrary and meaningless, as New York has already tried to reduced that from 10 to 7 rounds (they are backing off that because 7 round magazines don't exist.)

The claim is that banning high capacity magazines would reduce crime or prevent mass shootings. It's said that mass shooting culprits could have been stopped if they were required to change the magazine more often during their rampages. Besides being utterly false, the anti-gun lobby have physics against them. You see, the reason Gabrielle Giffords' shooter Jared Loughner was stopped wasn't the magazine switch. He was able to do that. The problem was after he switched the magazine, the handgun jammed!

This is a common problem with high capacity magazines because of a physical property called compressive strength. In short, the more you compress the springs in a firearm magazine, the closer that spring gets to its compressive stress value - where the material fails completely. More rounds equals a higher compressive stress value which leads to more firearm jams (Physics is a beautiful science!)

Ironically, this means that lower capacity magazines are less likely to jam. It's possible that the Virginia Tech shooter knew this because he packed his bag with 19 magazines that carried between 10 and 15 rounds each.

See the real problem here? The anti-gun lobby knows almost nothing about firearms. So their representatives in Congress invariably author legislation that is illogical, ineffective, superficial and counterintuitive. Having someone that knows little about firearms author firearm legislation is like having Gorgon Ramsay teach dancing classes.