11.28.2016

The Muslim immigration debate: "good" Muslim / "bad" Muslim





At times I am asked my view and it is as follows:
  • Muslims have been in the United States since our inception. I don't think there is much debate about this: Link, Link, Link
  • While it seems clear that the United States was founded on Judeo-Christian values ("The majority of the founders believed that religion was necessary for maintaining moral virtue and assumed that the nation would remain culturally Christian") - frankly any study of the colonization of America will confirm this (think the Pilgrims) - it's fairly obvious that there have been many non-Christians, Deists, atheists, and cultists in our history
  • I believe that the intent of the founders was that this nation would specifically not be a Muslim nation -  being that Islam in its essence does not believe in a separation of faith and state, and promotes Sharia law: "many Muslims around the world say sharia should be the law of the land in their country"
  • Sharia law is not compatible with US Jurisprudence
  • Sadly countries that are majority Islam do not provide religious liberty for Christians and Jews (there may be exceptions). Example: The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
  • I have a sense that were the United States a Muslim majority country that freedom of religion would be imperiled
  • It seems clear to me that the recent rash of terrorist attacks have a Muslim connection. The Ohio State attack today is a case to point. BostonSan Bernardino, Saint Cloud, Orlando, Fort Hood and New York come to mind
  • I support legal immigration and accept that immigrants will come from a variety of countries
  • The Scriptures call the Christian to love the foreigner and I hope to obey this directive
  • I personally have Muslim friends and acquaintances (and before I retired co-workers). Those who know me know this to be true. At our table, we have entertained Hindus, Muslims, atheists, et cetera. I always pray to my heavenly Father in the name of Christ in public prayers in our home. In another's home, I will testify of my hope in Christ but not press the point if my views are not welcome.
  • As a Christian, I view various belief systems as contrary to the Christian faith.  I John 2:22 states "Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son." Islam ≠ Christianity. From time to time on this blog I point out the errors of Islam. This is not "Muslim hate"! It's a role I have assumed as a Christian. As an aside there are Muslim blogs that are critical of Christianity. I don't regard those blogs as "Christian hate"
  • As a citizen, I have worked hard, I have paid taxes, I have not been a slacker / suck on society. I believe in the US Constitution and the laws of the United States
  • I personally have completely eschewed violence as a method of promulgating my personal views - "But when you talk about destructionDon't you know that you can count me out"
  • Back to the topic at hand - The Muslim immigration debate: "good" Muslim / "bad" Muslim. Every Muslim I have known is a person of peace and a person of good character. I would like to reframe this debate as who is a good candidate for immigration: That would be:
    • One who will believe in the US Constitution
    • One who will study and embrace the amazing history of our country (at this point a critic could easily mention the black spots of US history such as slavery (and more). I am not suggesting that these flaws should be glossed over or ignored!)
    • One who will endeavor to learn the language of our country which is English
    • One who will pay taxes, eschew violence, and not be a suck on society
    • One who, if qualified, would be willing to defend our country.
    • With regard to Muslims, only those who will reject Sharia law
Images: Abdul Razak Artan, Stats, UK Muslims inciting violence.  About the photo of Artan see this link and this link

Feel free to debate my comments. Anonymous comments welcomed and will be answered

Update on 1/28/17: The Problem With Only Letting In the 'Good' Immigrants - It’s difficult to determine who is “good” without making some troubling assumptions.

11.27.2016

#TrudeauEulogies: Twitter users mock Justin Trudeau for milquetoast Castro statement

Canadian PM Trudeau's statement on Fidel Castro's death met with ire, humor

Excerpt:

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose family's ties with the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro go back decades, mourned the loss of a "remarkable leader" on Saturday, sparking a flurry of criticism and humor at his favorable tone.

Comment: The statement

Follow the hashtag #TrudeauEulogies Good reminder: If you ever wondered where Jill Stein stands: A better view from Brit Hume:

11.23.2016

The "Curse" of the Sheldon Family Cemetery




The tiny Sheldon Family Cemetery is nestled smack in the middle of New Era Field stadium’s car park in Orchard Park, New York.

Excerpt:

It once rested on private farmland. Today, its location is decidedly less serene grounds for eternal rest. There, thousands of NFL fans party with copious amounts of alcohol before home games in the car park and then make their way to the stadium gates.

The rowdy fans are largely unaware that the quaint, fenced-off plot of land standing between their parked vehicles and the stadium is a cemetery containing more than 20 graves of a New York state family. The exact number is unknown due to sparse records and unmarked graves. It’s not that the cemetery is secret or concealed. It’s simply hidden in plain sight, placed immediately between the VIP parking lot and one of the stadium’s entrances, obstructed by some trees.

Visitors might also pay more attention to the portable toilets that sometimes line the semi-hidden graveyard's perimeter. ...

So how did more than 20 people end up buried in a highly trafficked car park? The answer dates back nearly two centuries, long before the Buffalo Bills team was established in 1960. It started in 1832 when Joseph Sheldon, a surveyor for the Holland Land Company, asked his neighbour Solomon Curtis if he might have permission to bury his infant son John, who died just weeks after birth, in the clearing of an apple orchard a short walk from a local creek. Curtis permitted the burial, eventually deeding the small parcel of land to Joseph Sheldon with one stipulation, according to a 1986 article in the Orchard Park Bee, a local newspaper: Joseph must reserve a plot of land for Curtis to be buried when the time came. (It’s unclear, however, if Curtis was ever actually interred in the land as he had requested.)

But through the years, the cemetery grew: Joseph Sheldon died, was buried beside his infant son John, and was followed by his wife Tryphena, their children, plus members of the extended family, neighbours and descendants. The last cemetery plot was dug after 1920, shortly before the Curtis family sold the surrounding land to the DuPont Company, the American chemicals conglomerate. ...

According family lore, Ralph Wilson, owner of the Bills at the time of the sale to Erie County, planned to position the football field’s 50-yard line right where the cemetery was located — until the Sheldon descendents got wind of the tentative plan to exhume the graves. “When the county decided to put the football stadium out there, they had to get the approval of the living relatives of those in the cemetery,” Dean Hartloff said. “I had a couple hard-headed great-aunts” — one of whom was his aunt Hermine Hartloff, the mother of Gary Hartloff, the cemetery’s sole groundskeeper today — “who refused to sign off, who wouldn’t let them move the cemetery.”

“But Ralph Wilson didn’t wait, he just built around it,” Dean Hartloff said of the team’s previous owner. The stadium design was flipped as to not disturb the graves. Unfortunately for the Bills, the stadium’s open end had to face east-west rather than north-south, allowing a sort of lopsided crosswind to enter the stadium that is often blamed for kickers’ and quarterbacks’ in-game blunders.
Comment: Map location Google / Bing


Colton Schmidt #6 and Dan Carpenter #2 of the Buffalo Bills react to a missed field goal try during the first half against the New England Patriots on October 30, 2016 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. New England defeats Buffalo 41-25.

Next time you complain about Drug Prices and BIG PHARMA consider this

Failed study, dimmed hopes in hunt for Alzheimer's treatment



Excerpt:

Treatment for Alzheimer's failed to slow mental decline in a widely anticipated study, ending hope that researchers at Eli Lilly had finally found a drug that does more to help those suffering from the fatal, mind-robbing disease. The pharmaceutical company's shares plunged 14 percent Wednesday before markets opened. The drug, solanezumab, missed the study's main goal when patients taking it did not experience a statistically significant slowing of cognitive decline — which involves a person's ability to remember things — compared to those taking a placebo or fake drug.


Juno Therapeutics halts midstage clinical trial after patient death

Excerpt:

Juno Therapeutics Inc. JUNO, -28.88% shares were halted in pre-market trade Wednesday after the company said one patient in its cancer trial had died and one was "not expected to recover." The two patients both experienced brain trauma earlier in the week during a phase 2 trial for a leukemia treatment, the company said. Two patients died in early July in the same clinical trial, but the company was allowed to resume the trial without the chemotherapy drug fludarabine, which Juno believed caused the deaths in combination with the company's JCAR015 drug. This week, Juno put the trial on clinical hold



Comment: Bernie routinely hits on Pharma. Meanwhile yield in LLY is 2.66%


11.22.2016

Abolish the Office of the First Lady



Abolish the Office of the First Lady

Excerpt:

[Time to] defund the ridiculously large staff that currently earns upward of $1.5 million a year serving Michelle Obama; abolish the federally funded bully pulpit from which the presidential spouses have historically advocated for healthy eating, literacy, child welfare, anti-drug programs, mental health issues and beautification of highways. The president’s spouse isn’t a specimen of American royalty. By giving her a federal budget and nonstop press coverage, we endorse a pernicious kind of neo-nepotism that says, pay special attention to the person not because she’s earned it or is inherently worthy of our notice but because of who she’s related to by marriage.

The hairstyles, fashion choices, vacation destinations and pet projects of the president’s spouse are newsworthy only to the mentally vacant. Other democracies, such as the United Kingdom, bestow no such honors upon the spouses of their leaders and are better for it. To use an au courant phrase, the office of the first spouse is a swamp in need of draining. Won’t somebody please dispatch a dredger to the East Wing?
Comment: Exactly how I feel!

The Browns - There's a Mascot for you!



NFL Power Rankings

Excerpt:

Our Football Power Index now gives the Browns a 24 percent chance of losing out.
Comment: See Mascots on Netflix. Review




VW bails on Diesel while Chevy is all in

Of course VW had "the scandal" Now Chevy will fill the void:
Comment: Brother has a diesel Ford F-250

The DOW at 19,000





Dow closes above 19,000 for first time in its 120-year history

Excerpt:

Get out the Dow 19,000 rally caps. The Dow Jones industrial average, arguably the world's best-known stock market gauge, closed above the 19,000 barrier Tuesday for the first time in its 120-year history.

For the second straight day, all four major U.S. stock indexes touched new record high territory. The Dow jumped 67.18 points, or 0.4%, to close at a record high of 19,023.87, according to preliminary calculations. T

he Standard & Poor's 500 index closed above 2200 for the first time ever as it rose 4.76 points, or 0.2%, to 2202.94.

The Nasdaq composite rose 0.3%, to an all-time closing high of 5386.35 and the Russell 2000 gained 0.9% to 1334.27, its thirteenth straight session of gains.

The assault on Dow 19,000 has taken nearly two years, or 700 calendar days, since it took out the 18,000 barrier back on Dec. 23, 2014. It was the slowest climb from one 1,000-point milestone to the next since taking nearly six years to climb from 14,000 in July 2007 to 15,000 in May 2013. (That long drought, of course, coincided with the Great Recession and the worst stock market decline since the Great Depression.)
Comment: Way back when I was working on my BBA at the University of Cincinnati, the DOW had not yet breached 1,000 (milestone reached November 14, 1972). I graduated in June 1971. More: Dow 19000! But 1,000 Points Ain’t What It Used to Be
Sure, the Dow Jones Industrial Average just closed above 19000 for the first time. But it did it by rising just 5.6% over about the past two years, ever since it first pierced 18000 in December 2014. That means it took almost 500 trading days to achieve the latest 1000-point milestone, the seventh-longest stretch of time between such round-number marks. The 16000, 17000 and 18000 Dow record were all shattered in fewer than 160 trading sessions after the previous 1,000-point level was first reached. And simple math shows that each 1,000-point rise is less impressive than the last. The march from 17000 to 18000 was good for a 5.9% gain, for example, while the climb from 10000 to 11000 equated to a 10% rise. Put the two measures together, and the latest 1,000-point climb was the result of average gains of about 0.01% each trading day. The last three round-number records were set after average moves of more than 0.04% each day.


What is the Alt-Right?

Three links
Comment: What is the Alt-Right? I'm not sure if I know. And I'm not sure if these links accurately reflect the Alt-Right! I can say that any philosophy that is racist & anti-semitic is NOT Jim Peet!




11.21.2016

Trump's 1st 100 days


The WSJ is skeptical about Chinese currency manipulation being a real issue:
Movements in the nominal yuan exchange rate have almost no long-term impact on global flows of exports and imports or on broader considerations such as average wages.

The exchange rate that matters for trade flows is the real exchange rate, i.e., the nominal exchange rate adjusted for local-currency prices in both countries. The real exchange rate, in turn, reflects the deep forces of comparative advantage such as technology and endowments of labor and capital.

These forces drive trade regardless of monetary policy. Think about the companies involved in trade. Yuan depreciation tends to be partly offset by Chinese companies raising their yuan prices.

A large academic literature has repeatedly found that profit competition among a country’s exporting companies typically undoes about half of that country’s nominal exchange-rate swings. Today more companies operate in global supply networks—in which trade and investment link different stages of production across different countries.

Because these networked companies incur both revenues and costs in many currencies, their trade competitiveness tends to vary little with the movement of any one currency. Long-term movements in nominal exchange rates often have nothing to do with the evolution of global trade flows.

In the generation after the Bretton Woods system dissolved, the dollar steadily depreciated against the Japanese yen, from its fix of 360 yen per dollar to an average of just 94 in 1995. Over that time did the U.S. swing into a massive trade surplus with Japan? No. From $1.2 billion in 1970 the U.S. trade deficit with Japan rose by a factor of 50, to $59.1 billion in 1995. From 2004 to 2014 the dollar similarly depreciated—note, not appreciated—against the yuan by about 25%. Over that decade the U.S. trade deficit with China soared—not fell—from $161.9 billion to $342.6 billion.

11.19.2016

Debunking the Canard about Trump's "Muslim Registry"


In Context: Donald Trump's comments on a database of American Muslims

Excerpt:

After going through all of his comments from this past weekend, it seems that Trump definitely wants a database of Syrian refugees, and he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a database for all Muslims -- though he isn’t actively calling for the latter. And we’ll warn you now that many of Trump’s comments strike us as contradictory or confusing.

What Trump Has Said About a Muslim Registry
Excerpt:

In an interview with NBC News last November, Trump was asked: "is there going to be a database that tracks the Muslims here in this country?" The remarks were made after a rally, and there was speculation by some on social media afterwards that Trump did not hear the entirety of the question, because he refers to the border in his answer. "There should be a lot of systems, beyond database, we should have a lot of systems, and today you can do it," Trump responds. "But right now we have to have a border, we have to have strength, we have to have a wall. And we cannot let what’s happening to this country happen."
a source familiar with the incoming administration told CNN there will be a database and it'll be similar to the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS).

Excerpt:

NSEERS, sometimes referred to as "Special Registration," was a program for registering non-citizen visa holders -- such as students, workers and tourists -- that President George W. Bush's administration enacted on September 10, 2002. The program had three parts. First, it required non-citizens to register when they entered the US -- a process that included fingerprinting, photo taking and interrogation. Second, it mandated that these people, as well as others already in the US, register and regularly check in with immigration officials. Third, it kept track of those leaving the country to make sure that temporary guests did not remain illegally. Violators were arrested, fined and even deported.All males 16 years of age or older from 25 countries were forced to register. Although no religious groups were explicitly targeted, all but one was a Muslim-majority country. The countries included: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen. The sole exception: North Korea. Trump promised during his campaign to start a program that will register and track people from certain high-risk countries, such as Iran, Syria and Afghanistan.

Comment: In sum: No! But some repeat the lie long enough that they believe it themselves!

11.14.2016

Radical Keith Ellison Enters Race for DNC Chair With Strong Support

Rep. Keith Ellison Enters Race for DNC Chair With Strong Support

Excerpt:

Rep. Keith Ellison formally announced his candidacy Monday to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee, a race that has taken on unusual importance as the party looks for someone to lead its efforts to rebuild after last week's devastating loss to Donald Trump. Ellison, a progressive who backed Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the presidential primary, enters the potentially crowded race as the clear favorite thanks to early backing from a number of leading Democrats. "It is not enough for Democrats to ask for voters' support every two years. We must be with them through every lost paycheck, every tuition hike, and every time they are the victim of a hate crime," Ellison said in a statement announcing his bid. "When voters know what Democrats stand for, we can improve the lives of all Americans, no matter their race, religion or sexual orientation. To do that, we must begin the rebuilding process now."
Comment: More here and here

Update: Foes pile on Ellison in DNC chair fight

Already, two of Ellison’s opponents for the top DNC job — former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison — have made the point that congressional responsibilities would dramatically undercut the ability of the next chairman to do the job effectively.

Narendra Modi eradicates "black money"




Why India wiped out 86% of its cash overnight

Excerpt:

On 8 November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave only four hours' notice that virtually all the cash in the world's seventh-largest economy would be effectively worthless.

The Indian government likes to use the technical term "demonetisation" to describe the move, which makes it sound rather dull. It isn't. This is the economic equivalent of "shock and awe". ...

Mr Modi's "shock and awe" declaration meant that 1,000 and 500 rupee notes would no longer be valid. These may be the largest denomination Indian notes but they are not high value by international standards - 1,000 rupees is only £12. But together the two notes represent 86% of the currency in circulation.

Think of that, at a stroke 86% of the cash in India now cannot be used. What is more, India is overwhelmingly a cash economy, with 90% of all transactions taking place that way. And that is the target of Mr Modi's dramatic move.

Because so much business is done in cash, very few people pay tax on the money they earn. According to figures published by the government earlier this year, in 2013 only 1% of the population paid any income tax at all. As a result huge numbers of Indians have stashes of tax-free cash hidden away - known here as "black money".
Anger rising over India's bungled cash exchange

Excerpt:

Banks are out of cash. ATMs are broken. Frustration has given way to anger.

Five days ago India suddenly banned more than 80% of its rupee notes, launching a currency exchange program that has been dogged by logistics snafus, poor banking infrastructure and intense demand for the new money.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said last week the ban on old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes would strike a blow against corruption and tax evasion. The shock move has been hailed by supporters as a "masterstroke."

Citizens rushed to swap the banned notes -- India's largest -- for new bills issued by the Reserve Bank of India. But demand has overwhelmed the country's banks, which stayed open over the weekend in an attempt to process more transactions. On Monday, lines to exchange money were again thousands deep and anger was mounting.

Comment: Image source.



Were the Pilgrims Puritans?

The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth (oil on canvas, 1914), by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe (1850–1936)

"The First Thanksgiving" (1915), by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris (American painter, 1863-1930).

PILGRIM AND PURITAN: A DELICATE DISTINCTION

Excerpt:

In other words, the Pilgrims who settled Plymouth were puritans seeking to reform their church, and the Puritans who settled Massachusetts Bay were pilgrims (with that lower-case "p") who moved to a whole new land because of their religious convictions. Now you know why I call it a "delicate distinction!"
The Pilgrims and Puritans

Excerpt:

The Boston and Plymouth colonies were distinct political and religious entities (at least until the English government combined them in the late 1680's) and, while relations between them were generally friendly, members of both groups were crystal clear on the differences between them.

"Puritans" wanted to remain as part of the English establishment, working for biblical reform from within. Even as they emigrated to New England, they affirmed their "Englishness" and saw the main purpose of their new colony as being that of a biblical witness, a "city on a hill" which would set an example of biblical righteousness in church and state for Old England and the entire world to see. As deeply committed covenant theologians, they emphasized especially strongly the corporate righteousness of their entire community before God.

"Pilgrims" wanted to achieve "reformation without tarrying," even if it meant separating from their church and their nation. While they continued to think of themselves as English, their emphasis was on their new political identity and spiritual identity. Because of their passionate commitment to the necessity of reformation immediate and without compromise, they emphasized especially strongly individual righteousness before God.

What united Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth, what united both Puritans and Pilgrims was far more significant than what distinguished them. All children of the Reformation, they knew that salvation was by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. And they knew this because they took, as their authority, Scripture alone. They all knew that to God alone must be the glory and, in their different ways, they sought to bring every thought and every action-religious, political, social-captive to the Lordship of Jesus.
Pilgrims V. Puritans: Who Landed In Plymouth?

Excerpt:

Puritans began as a group within the Anglican church that wanted to purify it of lingering Catholic influences. But some Puritans lost faith in the Anglican church. Deciding it could never be purified, they abandoned it, separating themselves from it. These became known as Separatists. The majority of Puritans, who remained within the Anglican church, were known as nonseparating Puritans. The two groups grew increasingly hostile as the 17th century wore on. It was the Separatists who took the Mayflower for America. Forced to leave England because it was treason to leave the Anglican church, small groups of Separatists left for Holland and other Protestant European countries. The group that we know as the Pilgrims went to Leiden in Holland. Americans often learn that they decided not to stay there because their children were becoming Dutch, but this is not true. They left because Holland’s truce with Catholic Spain was near its end, and the Protestant Separatists would have been wiped out if Spain had taken control once again of Holland. So the Separatists received permission from the English government to go to America. Why? They were funded by financiers in London, and the crown figured that if the colonists made a go of it, the crown would seize the colony and enjoy the profits. The religion of the colonists was secondary to the financial potential they represented. Not all the people on board the Mayflower were Separatists. Stories of the horrors suffered by colonists at Jamestown, in Virginia, were well-circulated in England. The feeling in England was that the Jamestown colonists had gone to America grossly unprepared. The Separatists vowed not to repeat those colonists’ mistakes. They recruited tradespeople from London whose talents would be essential to building a new society—carpenters, blacksmiths, etc. Those recruits were not Puritans or Separatists. They were Anglicans. But mostly, they were people who didn’t really think about religion too much, who just wanted a chance to go to America. The Separatists, then, were in the minority as the Mayflower set sail. Fights between the two groups broke out almost immediately. The Separatists got on the others’ nerves with their religion, which permeated all aspects of their lives, and the Anglicans got on the Separatists’ nerves with their deliberate sacrilege and mockery of religion. When they landed in America, the Separatists had a hard time keeping control of the colony from the majority.

Now, the nonseparating Puritans in England came under real persecution starting in 1630, with the election of Archbishop Laud, who dedicated himself to wiping Puritanism out and bringing the Anglican church as far back toward Catholicism as he could. Tens of thousands of Puritans would emigrate to Massachusetts in the 1630s. But they didn’t go to Plymouth. They weren’t about to miss their chance to found an untrammeled, unchallenged, all-powerful Puritan state by moving in with a bunch of crazy Separatists and, worse yet, blasphemous, Catholic-tinged Anglicans. The Puritans instead founded Boston, north of Plymouth.

And as the Puritan colony centered there—the Massachusetts Bay Colony—grew, it quickly outstripped Plymouth. Bay colonists ruthlessly confiscated land, including lands owned by Plymouth. By the 1640s, Plymouth was reduced to a backwater, and its Separatist quality was fairly diluted, even as the Puritanism of the Bay Colony grew and strengthened.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PILGRIM AND A PURITAN?

Excerpt:

Pilgrims and Puritans were Protestants who differed in degree. While both followed the teaching of John Calvin, a cardinal difference distinguished one group from the other: Pilgrims were Puritans who had abandoned local parishes and formed small congregations of their own because the Church of England was not holy enough to meet their standards. They were labeled Separatists. Their desertion was an ecclesiastical insult to the king as head of the Anglican Church and a crime punishable by jail or death. Around a hundred Separatists left England in 1607-08 in search of religious freedom in the Netherlands; many of them later migrated to America in 1620 aboard Mayflower.

The far larger group, those we know as Puritans or Nonseparating Episcopalians, reluctantly retained attachment to the English Church but were determined to cleanse it of remnants of Roman Catholicism. These Puritans remained at home during the 1620s and, through participation in Parliament, tried to prod the Stuart kings toward toleration. They failed. In 1630, John Winthrop led some 1,000 English Puritans in the initial wave of the Great Migration to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, north of Plymouth. They were fleeing the royal wrath of King Charles I and Bishop William Laud, who were escalating persecution of dissidents. For those who believed in simple Sunday services based on the Bible, without the intrusion of Roman rituals, it was time to leave. Fear of further repression quickened decision-making and, by 1640, New England colonies would be home to nearly 20,000 mostly Puritan immigrants.

Despite doctrinal differences, the two communities were not hostile to one another because, with boatloads of the godly arriving, the Bay Colony was steadily becoming more Separatist (even though Winthrop denied it) by the year. The Pilgrims’ basic tenets prevailed. Nevertheless, Puritans were infinitely more influential in providing the pitch and tenor for the colonies than the Pilgrims: more numerous, more literate, more controlling. Intent on creating a City upon a Hill and a New Jerusalem in North America, Bay Colony leaders demanded strict conformity in religious belief and practice. That was just the beginning. Massachusetts Puritans set the intellectual tone of the country for three centuries. They branded the land with the Protestant Ethic. They introduced New England to a lingering burden of guilt and existential angst.
Pilgrims & Puritans: 

Excerpt:

The most obvious difference between the Pilgrims and the Puritans is that the Puritans had no intention of breaking with the Anglican church. The Puritans were nonconformists as were the Pilgrims, both of which refusing to accept an authority beyond that of the revealed word. But where with the Pilgrims this had translated into something closer to an egalitarian mode, the "Puritans considered religion a very complex, subtle, and highly intellectual affair," and its leaders thus were highly trained scholars, whose education tended to translate into positions that were often authoritarian. There was a built-in hierarchism in this sense, but one which mostly reflected the age: "Very few Englishmen had yet broached the notion that a lackey was as good as a lord, or that any Tom, Dick, or Harry...could understand the Sermon on the Mount as well as a Master of Arts from Oxford, Cambridge, or Harvard" (Miller, I: 4, 14). Of course, while the Puritan emphasis on scholarship did foster such class distinction, it nevertheless encouraged education among the whole of its group, and in fact demanded a level of learning and understanding in terms of salvation. Thomas Hooker stated in The Application of Redemption, "Its with an ignorant sinner in the midst of all means as with a sick man remaining in the Apothecaries shop, ful of choycest Medicines in the darkest night: ...because he cannot see what he takes, and how to use them, he may kill himself or encrease his distempers, but never cure any disease" (qtd. in Miller, I: 13).

Knowledge of Scripture and divinity, for the Puritans, was essential. This was an uncompromising attitude that characterized the Puritans' entry into New England, according to Perry Miller and Thomas H. Johnson, whose thematic anthology, The Puritans (1932, 1963), became a key text of revisionist historicism, standing as an influential corrective against the extreme anti-Puritanism of the early twentieth century. Following Samuel Eliot Morison, they noted that the emphasis on education saw the establishment, survival, and flourishing of Harvard College--which survived only because the entire community was willing to support it, so that even the poor yeoman farmers "contributed their pecks of wheat" for the continued promise of a "literate ministry" (Miller, I: 14). And again, to their credit, Puritan leaders did not bolster the knowledge of its ministry simply to perpetuate the level of power of the ruling elite. A continuing goal was to further education among the laity, and so ensure that not only were the right and righteous ideas and understandings being held and expressed, but that the expressions were in fact messages received by a comprehending audience. An Act passed in Massachusetts in 1647 required "that every town of one hundred families or more should provide free common and grammar school instruction." Indeed, the first "Free Grammar School" was established in Boston in 1635, only five years after the Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded (Miller, II: 695-97). For all the accusations of superstition and narrow-mindedness, the Puritans could at least be said to have provided their own antidote in their system of schools. As John Cotton wrote in Christ the Fountaine of Life, "zeale is but a wilde-fire without knowledge" (qtd. in Miller, I: 22).

The Puritans who, in the 1560s, first began to be (contemptuously) referred to as such, were ardent reformers, seeking to bring the Church to a state of purity that would match Christianity as it had been in the time of Christ. This reform was to involve, depending upon which Puritan one asked, varying degrees of stripping away practices seen as residual "popery"--vestments, ceremony, and the like. But many of the ideas later associated strictly with the Puritans were not held only by them. The Calvinist doctrine of predestination, with which Puritanism agreed, was held by the Pilgrims as well: both believed that the human state was one of sin and depravity; that after the Fall all but an elect group were irrevocably bound for hell; that, because God's knowledge and power was not limited by space or time, this group had always been elect. In other words, there was nothing one could do about the condition of one's soul but try to act as one would expect a heaven-bound soul to act.

As Perry Miller points out, they inherited Renaissance humanism just as they inherited the Reformation, and so held an interesting place for reason in their overall beliefs. The Puritan idea of "Covenant Theology" describes how "after the fall of man, God voluntarily condescended...to draw up a covenant or contract with His creature in which He laid down the terms and conditions of salvation, and pledged Himself to abide by them" (Miller, I: 58). The doctrine was not so much one of prescription as it was of explanation: it reasoned why certain people were saved and others were not, it gave the conditions against which one might measure up one's soul, and it ensured that God would abide by "human conceptions of right and justice"--"not in all aspects, but in the main" (Miller, I: 58). The religious agency for the individual Puritan was then located in intense introspection, in the attempt to come to an awareness of one's own spiritual state. As with the Pilgrims, the world, history, everything for the Puritan became a text to be interpreted. One could not expect all of God's actions to be limited by one's ideas of reason and justice, but one at least had a general sense, John Cotton's "essentiall wisdome," as guidance. And of course, one had the key, the basis of spiritual understanding, the foundational text and all-encompassing code, the Bible.
Comment: Images above from . No bragging with this point, but I am a descendant of Puritan John Peat and Pilgrims William White and Stephen Hopkins

Update: Because of our annual celebration of Thanksgiving, and our hazy images of their 1621 meal with Native Americans, the Pilgrims have become the emblematic colonists in America’s national memory

Although people often refer to the Pilgrims as “Puritans,” they technically were English Separatists, Christians who had decided that the state-sponsored Anglican Church was fatally corrupt, and that they should found their own churches. (The Puritans, who would establish Massachusetts in 1630, believed in reforming the Anglican Church from within.) Establishing independent churches, however, was illegal. Under heavy persecution, some Separatists decided to move to Leiden in the Netherlands around the same time that the Virginia Company founded Jamestown in 1607. The Netherlands offered the Separatists religious liberty, but the Pilgrims also became concerned about the negative influences of living in such a culturally diverse society. So in 1620, 102 settlers sailed to America on board the Mayflower. Their final Old World port was Plymouth, England, which supplied the name for their new settlement in what became southeastern Massachusetts.
The Desolate Wilderness (WSJ)

Being now passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before them in expectations, they had now no friends to welcome them, no inns to entertain or refresh them, no houses, or much less towns, to repair unto to seek for succour; and for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of the country know them to be sharp and violent, subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search unknown coasts.

11.13.2016

The President's The Cabinet - Who's Who?

President Truman with his Cabinet


The Cabinet

Excerpt:

Established in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, the Cabinet's role is to advise the President on any subject he may require relating to the duties of each member's respective office.

The tradition of the Cabinet dates back to the beginnings of the Presidency itself. Established in Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, the Cabinet's role is to advise the President on any subject he may require relating to the duties of each member's respective office.

The Cabinet includes the Vice President and the heads of 15 executive departments — the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Attorney General.
What a Trump Cabinet Might Look Like

Comment: I knew the daughter of Nixon's Secretary of Agriculture . My understanding is that Obama rarely met with his cabinet.







Don't Like the Electoral College? Change It!




Past Attempts at Reform

Excerpt:

The rules of the Electoral College are not set in stone. While Constitutional amendments are rare, they do happen. Twenty-seven proposals have survived the difficult amendment process, and with much less popular approval than the movement for direct election. Over the history of our country, there have been at least 700 proposed amendments to modify or abolish the Electoral College - more than any other subject of Constitutional reform.
Comments: Read entire article for the past attempts to modify it. Two were successful: Only two proposals involving the Electoral College have ever reached the ratification stage, and both passed (the 12th and 23rd Amendments).

Meanwhile how it works:

How to change it:
Meanwhile:
Update: In Defense of the Electoral College
Doing away with the Electoral College would breach our fidelity to the spirit of the Constitution, a document expressly written to thwart the excesses of majoritarianism. Nonetheless, such fidelity will strike some as blind adherence to the past. For those skeptics, I would point out two other advantages the Electoral College offers.

First, we must keep in mind the likely effects of direct popular election of the president. We would probably see elections dominated by the most populous regions of the country or by several large metropolitan areas. In the 2000 election, for example, Vice President Gore could have put together a plurality or majority in the Northeast, parts of the Midwest, and California. The victims in such elections would be those regions too sparsely populated to merit the attention of presidential candidates.

Pure democrats would hardly regret that diminished status, but I wonder if a large and diverse nation should write off whole parts of its territory. We should keep in mind the regional conflicts that have plagued large and diverse nations like India, China, and Russia.

The Electoral College is a good antidote to the poison of regionalism because it forces presidential candidates to seek support throughout the nation. By making sure no state will be left behind, it provides a measure of coherence to our nation. Second, the Electoral College makes sure that the states count in presidential elections. As such, it is an important part of our federalist system — a system worth preserving.

Historically, federalism is central to our grand constitutional effort to restrain power, but even in our own time we have found that devolving power to the states leads to important policy innovations (welfare reform). If the Founders had wished to create a pure democracy, they would have done so. Those who now wish to do away with the Electoral College are welcome to amend the Constitution, but if they succeed, they will be taking America further away from its roots as a constitutional republic
Update: The ‘Excellent’ Electoral College
The Electoral College, for all its imperfections, is still a better way to choose a President. The fact that Mrs. Clinton won the popular vote may console Democrats, but if that were the measure of victory we would have had a different campaign. Both candidates would have parked themselves in populous states like New York, and Mr. Trump would have spent weeks in Texas. As it is, the Republican nominee didn’t compete in Illinois or California, allowing Mrs. Clinton to pile up big majorities. Mrs. Clinton’s advantage in California alone—more than 2.7 million votes—accounts for more than her projected margin of victory of about two million. One feature of the Electoral College is that it picks a decisive winner as early as possible. Mr. Trump’s victory across the Midwest gave him a solid majority in the Electoral College that everyone acknowledged. There was no waiting for absentee ballots or recounts. If you think a recount in one state like Florida in 2000 was corrosive, imagine a tight popular vote with contested results in 50 states and thousands of counties. The opportunities for fraud, or claims of fraud, would be endless. The system also tends to narrow the field to two candidates who have a plausible path to 270 electoral votes. This is a weakness when the major parties produce two unpopular nominees, but that is an argument for the parties choosing better candidates. The Electoral College reduces the relevance of fringe candidates who could otherwise force themselves into importance in a national poll.

Opinion: This "equal partners" arrangement won't last

This photo of Idaho Historical Museum is courtesy of TripAdvisor


Trump picks Priebus as White House chief of staff, Bannon as top adviser

Excerpt:

Donald Trump named two top advisers to his administration Sunday, tapping Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus to be his new chief of staff and Steve Bannon, the Trump campaign CEO and executive chairman of Breitbart News, as chief strategist and senior counselor. "Steve and Reince are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory. Now I will have them both with me in the White House as we work to make America great again," Trump said in the release. It's an unusual arrangement that could create two power centers in the new White House. The campaign statement, which listed Bannon's role first, referred to the two men as "equal partners." "Bannon and Priebus will continue the effective leadership team they formed during the campaign, working as equal partners to transform the federal government, making it much more efficient, effective and productive," it said.
Comment: Good choice = Reince Priebus / questionable choice = Steve Bannon. About as natural as a two-headed calf. Source of image below


11.12.2016

Warren Buffett breaks silence on Wells Fargo



Buffett Says Stumpf ‘Made a Hell of a Mistake’ at Wells Fargo

Excerpt:

Stumpf is a “very decent man” who “made a hell of a mistake,” the billionaire said in an interview posted on CNN’s website Friday. “And he didn’t correct it. That’s the thing.”

Buffett’s comments were his most extensive public remarks on the bank since it agreed in September to pay $185 million to settle allegations that employees set up credit-card and deposit accounts without customers’ permission. Staff have said they were encouraged by cross-selling targets to open as many accounts as possible. “It was a dumb incentive system,” said Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is the largest investor in Wells Fargo. “When they found out it was dumb, they didn’t do anything about it.”

Comment: Agreed. Image source is CNN Money

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November 12th, 2016