Saturday, November 22, 2014

Trey Gowdy, Superstar

If you want to blog and you don't have anything prepared, you can always post a Trey Gowdy video. He never disappoints. Never.

It is a milestone, or if not a milestone a gauge of a performer's status, when a YouTuber actually takes the time to compile a playlist of your memorable videos. Usually, the more popular the artist, the longer the playlists as well as the greater number of playlists.

Trey Gowdy is not the only congressman I know of who has a playlist compiled (there were Ron Paul playlists but he is retired) but he has a multitude of playlists. Most of them are from the floor of Congress but he does make a TV appearance and he also addresses gatherings of people who are interested in Constitutional issues.

This playlist contains 200 videos. That's right, 200.

If that playlist is not complete, this 15 video list might have one you are looking for.

This 14 video list is entitled "Best of Trey Gowdy." Might be accurate in its assessment.

This 46 video list focuses on IRS testimony.

These are not the only playlists. YouTube searches can meander so I stopped looking after page 34 but there were Gowdy vids on almost every page.

Nancy Pelosi has several but most of hers are posted by her political opponents, including Eric Cantor.

Here is an Issa playlist.

My research is not complete but I have not found any other Congressional playlists. Not sure I could listen to any of them not named Gowdy anyway,

Friday, November 21, 2014

Immigration: Once More, It Is All About Obama

The media love to give bad advice to Republicans. Distance yourself from conservatives. Distance yourself from tea party types. Forget that abortion stuff. Tell the Christians where to go. Nominate someone who impulsively reaches across the aisle. Stay clear from Sarah Palin. Blanket amnesty and in-state tuition for what is the term? Migrant dreamers? It is Ollie saying to Stanley, "Why can't you be more like me?"

I am reluctant to offer advice to Dems, in part because I don't want to sound like Ollie and in part because I enjoyed this year's election and part of me wants to scream, "Stay the course! Stay the course! Stay the course! Have another glass of Kool-Aid! And another! Wish we had someone half as brilliant as Mr. Hopenchange. Guess we'll just keep on losing."

But...haven't you had enough of Jonestown? No? OK, drink a glass for me.

Once more, we have entered the theater of the absurd. Even Obama's critics don't seem to understand him very well. The immigration decree is and will be wildly unpopular, even among Democrats. This is a terrible political maneuver. Yet, the sanctioned critics bend over backwards to put this on an existing template.

Watch this vid. Here is O'Reilly interviewing Krauthammer. Krauthammer tells us Obama has delayed this sort of unilateral command because it would jeopardize elections. In other words, it is a politically bad move. So why would he do it?

O'Reilly asks Krauthammer if he is calling Obama a phony, a venal man. In essence that is exactly what he is saying. But Krauthammer cannot say this, even on Fox News because even there, Obama is treated with kid gloves. So Krauthammer denies that he has asserted that Obama is venal and phony and he explains that this is the work of a skilled politician. Huh?

Was it a good political tactic or a bad one, Charles?

And two quick follow ups? Is Obama phony? Is he venal? You can skip those two, Charles. Everyone knows the answers.

Obama's Executive action will damage the Democratic Party even more than he has already hurt it. Obama does not care. He does not care. This is a sick individual trying hard to harvest adulation anywhere he can find it. The day after his prime time announcement he flies to Las Vegas to perform a rally to "sell" his program. What? What is there to sell? The emperor has spoken. It does not matter if anyone is buying. Still, the emperor sells his mandate at a rally.

By the way, the president's prime time announcement and accompanying rally coincides with the Latin Grammies, hosted in Las Vegas. Anything for adoration. Anything. Obama gets an audience on successive days. Mission accomplished.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bye Bye Cable

We cancelled our cable TV and land line. I will probably miss the land line more than the cable. We still have cable Internet so we will pay about $75/month. Contrast that with our bundle that recently jumped from $156 to $190. It had previously jumped from $138 to $156.

We do have Netflix and we just added Amazon on a trial basis. All things being equal I would rather be able to watch cable TV but all things are not equal. Roku is a game changer. We have had our unit about three years. $50 one time fee gives you access to about as much programming as a lower level cable package. It's harder to access because you can't watch TV as you explore the guides. Of course you can also pair your TV (we have a dumb dinosaur TV) with YouTube sites and navigate via your laptop or other small screen device.

Cable TV still has the live event as a selling point. Breaking news and sporting events. And there is habit and familiarity and convenience. We still do not have instantaneous viewing when we turn on our "device," as we do with television. We know the channel numbers of stations we never watch. I like to come home. flip on the tv and let it run long before (or if) I sit and watch it. I don't have to make three or four decisions before passive viewing. The instantaneous experience television is a wonderful feature. But at savings of $4/day, we will somehow find the strength to endure.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Decline In Traditional Religion And The Rise Of Barack Obama

Homo sapiens is a religious species and for decades, formal religious affiliation declined in America. A void was there to be filled and The Cult of Obama became an overnight religious awakening.

Obamacism could not have thrived in an era dominated by traditional religion. Idolatry would not have taken root and the act of deliberately cultivating worship would have been met with harsh disapproval. The Obama Halo would have been recognized as blasphemous. The White House's demand that Jesus's name be covered when the president spoke at Georgetown--a demand the craven wafers granted without a fuss--would have sunk every other politician's career. In another era, celebrities would not refer to the president as lord and savior and had there been a YouTube it would not feature videos of people praying to a politician.

Why religion? It could be that we are genetically programmed to believe in celestial affairs. As such, do we favor religions that promote our survival and well being and shun those that do not. Then again, maybe sociobiology doe not explain everything.

Maybe a spiritual realm does indeed exist and religion is our way of speculating on its nature while also safely harnessing our spiritual exploration. Some, like the late Robert Anton Wilson, are fortunate enough to “see God out of the corner of my eye.” Some of us will experience a freakish moment where we blurt out the lines of a TV show right before the character speaks his part. Most of us witness just enough telepathy, clairvoyance and premonition to make us say, “There is something more than the material realm.”

Why the decline in traditional formal religious worship? When eggheads compile their list of most influential books or most important books, they never include Raymond Moody's “Life After Life.” Published in 1975, this book concerns case studies of what would later be called near death experiences or NDE's. Never mind how many copies were sold. This book opened the floodgates. Soon, so it seemed, everyone's Aunt Zelda had seen the light.

It should be noted that NDE's became more common with the advance of medical technology that allowed patients to come back from a state of near death and tell all about their experiences. We tend to think of technology as an opponent of spirituality but defibrillators changed the ontological perspective of many a person.

Regardless of one's opinion of NDE's, they have shaped popular belief and popular culture. No more physically rising from the grave on Judgment Day. No more souls frozen in dormancy until Kingdom Come. “Grandma saw the light right away. She reviewed her whole life and it was a pleasant experience. She didn't want to come back.”

A few people have undergone hellish NDE's, but most comeback kids experience something unspeakably wonderful. It's not just Lutherans or Protestants or Christians who experience the conversations with deceased relatives, the journey through the tunnel, the warm, comforting light and so on. Experiences did not seem to vary between baptized and non-baptized, believer and infidel.

Why worship at The One True Faith if we all end up in front of the light? Might as well sleep in on Sundays. There are many roads to salvation. In the wake of the NDE phenomenon idiosyncratic religions flourished. Traditional religions have not fared so well.

It is not just NDE's that have emptied the pews. Many of us are critical of traditional religion for its focus on sexuality to the exclusion of just about everything else. I would like to see religions address public vs. private morality, property rights, volition, voluntarism, temperance of plunder, cruelty for cruelty sake and a boatload of other topics concerning the moral issues we discuss on a daily basis. Religious leaders need not draw the same conclusions I draw but they should at least mention the subjects.

More idealistic souls would like to see religious leaders condemn war or at least submit guidelines as to when war is moral and just. Other people would like to see environmental issues addressed from the pulpit. Still others would like to see the clergy at least examine issues of animal welfare. Unfortunately, the ethos of the day is never on the menu.

I take evolutionary theory, or sociobiology as it was originally called, with a grain of salt. It does not sufficiently explain adoption of children genetically dissimilar to the parents. It does not explain voluntary celibacy, voluntary sterilization, homosexuality and other non-reproductive sexual practices. What sociobiology does explain is how religions became obsessed with matters below the waist.

In an era when venereal disease was rampant and there were no cures and no means of prevention, sexual restraint was the pinnacle of virtue. In an age when children of two parents were unlikely to see adulthood and the fate of illegitimate children was even worse, sexual mores defined the person. When larger battalions were needed, sexual practices that did not produce future soldiers were condemned.

Once more, technology challenges our morality. Condoms and antibiotics make sexually transmitted diseases significantly less threatening. Birth control options influence people's attitude towards marriage. Universal access to indoor plumbing changes a lot of things. One can shout “moral relativism” but isn't moral relativism what the clergy endorse when they ignore the previously mentioned hot button topics?

When a sect emphasizes sexual behavior as the gold standard of morality, they will fill their pews with the timid more than the virtuous. So too, the old, the feeble, the lonely, the unwanted. They will reap a harvest of impoverished men and dowdy women. Mostly, people who live a moral lifestyle by default.

Institutional religion has not weathered eclecticism very well. In places like the rural South, rural Utah, the Middle East and and Northern Africa, formal religion reigns supreme because just about everyone is of the same faith. So too, traditional religion does well in urban neighborhoods with tight ethnic identities. This is especially true when those ethnic groups feel a rivalry with people of a different faith. The Catholics of Belfast unify around their perceived persecution by the British. The Protestants of Belfast unify around their perceived persecution by the Catholics of Belfast. Neither group seems influenced by eclecticism.

Technology has not been kind to traditional religion. Yes, we have televangelists and websites devoted to devotion but all in all technology has been disruptive to worship as it was once defined. The automobile might have given to the rise of the megachurch but before doing so it gave rise to suburbs.

The deck got shuffled in the suburbs. When a kid grows up in an Italian American Catholic neighborhood, he will probably remain Catholic for the rest of his life. When an Italian American grows up on a suburban street where the next door neighbor is Mormon and his next door neighbor is Nada and his nest door neighbor is kind of New Age and his next door neighbor grew up Catholic but then married a Baptist but then married a Buddhist and then married someone who is “deeply spiritual but not religious,” his religious destiny is not so readily determined.

Spiritual values transcend time and place and circumstance. How religions adapt to technology, mobility and eclecticism remains to be seen. So far, religious leaders have not figured it out. Religious trends are a fascinating subject but for now, they are beyond the scope of our attention. Let us focus on the decline of traditional religion and the spiritual void that is left in its wake. For some people that spiritual void was filled by Barack Obama.

American religions have slowly lost members, influence and clout over the course of several decades. In 1948, Gallup reported only 2% of the population considered themselves unaffiliated with any religion. In 2008, that number rose to 12%. This number taken by itself might not be so alarming but the degree of involvement has decreased among the “affiliated.”

Protestant and Roman Catholics have been hit hard. Whereas the Mainstream Protestants have lost more members, the Catholic Church has suffered sharper decreases in attendance and participation. From Kenneth Jones' “Index of Leading Catholic Indicators” :

Priests: From 27,000 in 1930 to 58,000 in 1965... 45,000 in 2002.
Ordinations: 1,575 in 1965...450 in 2002.

Priestless Parishes: 1% in 1965...15% in 2002.

Seminarians: 49,000 in 1965...4,700 in 2002.

Sisters: 180,000 in 1965...75,000 in 2002.

Parochial Grade School Students: 4.5 million in 1965...1.9 million in 2002.

The Sacraments: 45 million Catholic Americans and 1.3 million infant baptisms in 1965.
65 million Catholic Americans and 1 million infant baptisms in 2002.
126,000 converts in 1965...80,000 in 2002.

352 Catholic marriages in 1965...256,000 in 2002.

Sunday Mass Attendance: 74% in 1958 (Gallup.) 26.6% in 1994 (University of Notre Dame.)

Meanwhile the Protestants lost almost 5 million members from 1990 to 2000.

This same period saw an almost 20% decline in all church attendance.

In 2010, Southern Baptists reported four straight years of declining membership. They also reported a 4.98% decline in baptisms from 2009 <>

Every year more than 4000 churches close their doors compared to just over 1000 new church starts.
We have focused only on Christians but Jews have also grown more secularized. Estimates of non-practicing Jews range from 60 to 75%.

Near death phenomena, psychedelic drugs and pop culture have spurred interest in the paranormal but the “other world” is impossible to harness. One can do many things with paranormal activity except institutionalize it. Spiritualist churches are something like Lincoln's Ax, changing both congregation and meeting place with such frequency as to question the institution's very existence. Spiritualist churches do not have lifelong multigenerational families. They usually rent space from function halls to perform their rituals.

Americans had become Spiritualists in the sense that they entertained fleeting, ephemeral interests in matters celestial alongside their congregation of dilettantes. It was a perfect storm of sorts. A religious species in a traditionally religious land, spiritually stimulated but spiritually unanchored. Tinder awaiting a spark. And out of the screen would pop this dashing figure who would ask us only to “Believe.”

There is a free-floating assertion that the non-religious are more rational, less easily duped, than the religious. Unfortunately, not every atheist is Bertrand Russell, The “Whatever” school prevails. Jesus is boring and god is like, old. But Barack Obama is “The One.”

Religion can be a bit like eroticism. People return to both activities because they enjoy them. But in both pursuits, the object of fascination is not always so easy to find. Barack Obama is to religion what the Playboy centerfold is to eroticism. Finally, the fickle are pleased.

America has always been a hotbed for religious cults. Nascent religions were usually subjected to a period of scrutiny that could last decades. The establishment was traditionally skeptical of charismatic cult leaders who lined feathered their own nest at the expense of the gullible. The faithful were usually unfriendly to cult leaders who sought worship for themselves.

The critics fell silent for Barack Obama. Truth is, a lot of ministers, such as the previously mentioned Andrew Greeley, were mesmerized by Barack Obama. If they did not buy into his divinity, they did not challenge it either. Sure, he cultivated his own adoration but who are we to judge? Wasn't Christianity just a dress rehearsal for Obamacism?

There is a new savior in town.

The Biggest Losers In Obama's Amnesty Program: DEMOCRATS!

Oregon is still a blue state and despite the recent WAVE election they actually expanded their Democratic majority in the legislature. This might be the only state that is getting bluer.

Yet, the voters used the power of referendum two weeks ago to cancel driver's license for illegal immigrants (the AP slips and calls them "people who are in the United States illegally." Weren't these migrants or undocumented workers or people who live in the shadows?).  The measure passed 66-34!

Is there an expert in the house? Can we get Halperin and Heilemann on the line to explain the intricacies of the president's upcoming amnesty announcement and its impact on the Democratic Party in 2016? Can we get Rasmussen to conduct a poll for us? They only missed the Kansas Senate race by 16 points. They only missed the governor's race by 14 points.  Where is Steve Schmidt when we need him?

Yahoo News:

"The Oregon measure tells you these measures are not easy or simple," said Muzaffar Chishti of the Migration Policy Institute. "The political cost may be significant, even in blue states."
The state law had seemed to be popular. It easily passed last year with bipartisan support in the Democratic-controlled Legislature and was signed Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, who was re-elected Nov. 4.
Opponents barely gathered enough signatures to put the repeal question on the ballot. Immigrant rights groups outspent their opponents 10-1.
Still, the measure failed in every county but the state's most liberal one, Multnomah, home to Portland. Even there it trailed significantly behind other Democratic candidates and causes.

Recommended Reading by Michael Barone

I like it when a big shot validates what I have said. Well, not exactly what I said. I am saying that the policies, the governance and the personality of Barack Obama are destroying the Democratic Party. Barone does a much better technical analysis and he addresses fragile coalitions and tired ideas and tired candidates. The situation is much worse for the Democrats than the media are letting on.

(1) This was a wave, folks. It will be a benchmark for judging waves, for either party, for years.
(2) In seriously contested races, Republican candidates were generally younger, more vigorous, more sunny and optimistic than Democrats. The contrast was sharpest in Colorado and Iowa, which voted twice for President Obama. Cory Gardner and Joni Ernst seemed to be looking forward to the future. Their opponents grimly championed the stale causes of feminists and trial lawyers of the past.
Democrats see themselves as the party of the future. But their policies are antique. The federal minimum wage dates to 1938, equal pay for women to 1963, access to contraceptives to 1965. Raising these issues now is campaign gimmickry, not serious policymaking.