The Z Man: The Party’s Over

Austrian economists have claimed that the government printing lots of money leads to inflation. Why, then, was inflation low, even when the U.S. government was printing and spending lots of money? According to the Z Man, the reason was that the American dollar was a predominant currency throughout the world and global growth was high. Such a situation may come to an end, unfortunately.

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David Cole on the Absurdity of WaPo “Fact-Checking” and the Woke “Words Kill” Meme

“Regarding the Fauci/NIAID beagle-torturing claims, Reinhard and Abutaleb (and the people they interviewed for the piece) dismissed them as ‘false,’ ‘misinformation,’ ‘bogus,’ ‘conspiracy theories,’ ‘ridiculous accusations and outright lies,’ ‘dangerous to the entire field of science,’ and ‘erroneous claims amplified by a right-wing echo chamber.’ ‘Falsified misinformation’ from ‘inflammatory right-wing media outlets and influencers’ created ‘outrage that was supercharged’ by ‘Republican operatives’…But then you read the fine print in those 3,650 words and you realize that of the six beagle-torture studies WCW cited, five actually were funded by Fauci’s NIAID (including one in which beagles had their vocal cords cut ‘to protect the researchers from hearing loss’ from the agonized wailing of the tortured dogs)…”

“Okay, you say words kill? I say silence kills. You say Dave Weigel’s tweet caused a tranny to slit his wrists. Can you prove it? If I were to say that a teen girl committed suicide because she was told to shut up and stay silent after a tranny flashed his junk at her in the locker room, my claim would have as much validity as yours.”

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FAIR: What You Should Really Know About Ukraine

“The backdrop to the 2014 coup and annexation cannot be understood without looking at the US strategy to open Ukrainian markets to foreign investors and give control of its economy to giant multinational corporations.”

“In Ukraine, the IMF had long planned to implement a series of economic reforms to make the country more attractive to investors. These included cutting wage controls (i.e., lowering wages), ‘reform[ing] and reduc[ing]’ health and education sectors (which made up the bulk of employment in Ukraine), and cutting natural gas subsidies to Ukrainian citizens that made energy affordable to the general public…In 2013, after early steps to integrate with the West, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych turned against these changes and ended trade integration talks with the European Union. Months before his overthrow, he restarted economic negotiations with Russia, in a major snub to the Western economic sphere. By then, the nationalist protests were heating up that would go on to topple his government.”

“Far-right influence has increased across Ukraine as a result of Washington’s actions. A recent UN Human Rights council has noted that ‘fundamental freedoms in Ukraine have been squeezed’ since 2014, further weakening the argument that the US is involved in the country on behalf of liberal values.”

“The Crimean peninsula, which was part of Russia until it was transferred to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic in 1954, is home to one of two Russian naval bases with access to the Black and Mediterranean seas, one of history’s most important maritime theaters. A Crimea controlled by a US-backed Ukrainian government was a major threat to Russian naval access. The peninsula—82% of whose households speak Russian, and only 2% mainly Ukrainian—held a plebiscite in March 2014 on whether or not they should join Russia, or remain under the new Ukrainian government. The Pro-Russia camp won with 95% of the vote. The UN General Assembly, led by the US, voted to ignore the referendum results on the grounds that it was contrary to Ukraine’s constitution. This same constitution had been set aside to oust President Yanukovych a month earlier.”

“But Putin has been clear about a path to de-escalation. His main demand has been for direct negotiations to end the expansion of the hostile military alliance to his borders. He announced, ‘We have made it clear that NATO’s move to the east is unacceptable,’ and that ‘the United States is standing with missiles on our doorstep.’ Putin asked, “How would the Americans react if missiles were placed at the border with Canada or Mexico?’ In corporate media coverage, no one bothers to ask this important question. Instead, the assumption is that Putin ought to tolerate a hostile military alliance directly across its border. The US, it seems, is the only country allowed to have a sphere of influence.”

“Anatol Lieven (Responsible Statecraft, 1/3/22), an analyst at the Quincy Institute, wrote that US acquiescence to a neutral Ukraine would be a ‘golden bridge’ that, in addition to reducing US/Russia tensions, could enable a political solution to Ukraine’s civil war. This restraint-oriented policy is considered fringe thinking in the Washington foreign policy establishment.”

“The economic imperative for opening foreign markets, the NATO drive to push up against Russia, US support for the 2014 coup and the direct hand in shaping the new government all need to be pushed down the memory hole if the official line is to have any credibility.”

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NYMAG: Joe Biden’s Big Squeeze

Two noteworthy passages:

“When you are running in politically hostile territory, and when Fox News has branded your party as the enemy of American values, you need some signal to your constituents that you differ from your colleagues. The paradox is that while the sources of the Democratic Party’s battered reputation in much of red America are largely cultural, the only recourse red-state Democrats have come up with is economic. It is telling that one group, Center Forward, which had emerged to run ads praising key Democrats who had broken with Biden, turned out to be a front for the pharmaceutical lobby.

“Embattled Democrats have not staged any high-profile gestures to distance themselves from their party on policing, abortion, or guns. Manchin is not walking around toting copies of the lesser-known offensive editions of Dr. Seuss. Instead, moderate Democrats, noted Politico, ‘tout the Chamber’s backing to bolster their bipartisan cred in swing districts.’ While Fox News is blaring constant coverage of cancellations in elite liberal milieus, centrist Democrats focus on blocking the cancellation of billionaire tax loopholes. The Chamber of Commerce has filled a vacuum where the shaping of a culturally moderate wing of the Democratic Party ought to exist.”

“Biden’s goal was to demonstrate the concrete benefits of good government and, in so doing, to disprove the cynical Trumpian claim that Washington was merely controlled by wealthy elites. The Democrats can still come through on that promise, if they can prevent the left wing and plutocratic center from pulling the party apart. But time is running out, and Trump is waiting.”

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/11/joe-biden-agenda.html

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Book Write-Up: The Alchemy Thief, by R.A. Denny

R.A. Denny. The Alchemy Thief. 2021. Go here to purchase the book.

This book is the first of R.A. Denny’s “Pirates and Puritans” series. Whereas her previous series, “Tales of Tzoladia,” was fantasy, this book is a combination of historical and science fiction.

Two people from the twenty-first century end up in the seventeenth century. One is Ayoub, a member of ISIS. The other is Peri, short for “Experience.” They do not know each other and accidentally end up in the past at different times, with neither knowing about the other until later in the book. Ayoub is on a pirate ship with other Muslims, whereas Peri is with the Puritans, among whom her name “Experience” is not unusual.

Ayoub initially struggles to understand and to fit into his new surroundings. The Muslim crew finds him unusual and speculates that he is possessed with a jinn, especially when he tries to explain twenty-first century weaponry to them. They take him to an Islamic mystic, who proves to be a gentle presence throughout the book. Over the years, Ayoub comes to attain a prominent and respectable position among the crew. The question then becomes whether Ayoub will use his knowledge of the future to change history and establish a caliphate, right when America is in its infancy stage.

Peri confronts her own set of challenges among the Puritans. She is arrested for witchcraft due to the nature of her arrival and controversial things that she innocently says, but she is rescued by the Puritan leader John Winthrop, who is unsure what to make of her but has his own affinity with alchemy, which arguably overlaps with witchcraft. (Not that he would say that, but he would be more open to the bizarre or the paranormal than the average Puritan.) Peri also tries to adapt to a patriarchal society with stricter sexual and social mores.

Other characters are Peri’s love interests. In the twenty-first century, there is Liam. Unknown to Peri, Liam is a secret ISIS recruit, reaching out to her as part of a larger agenda whose intricacies are hidden even from him. He encourages her to take a class with Professor Bey, who turns out to have his own mysterious history. In the seventeenth century, there is Daniel, a gifted Native American convert to Puritan Christianity.

The struggles by Ayoub and Peri to adjust to new surroundings, and those surroundings’ attempts to grapple with them, are an asset to this book. Perhaps that element could have been enhanced had the Puritan characters not spoken in contractions (“can’t,” “don’t”). At first, they were formal in their speech, but their speech became less formal as the book went on.

This part of the book is profound, as it highlights the nuances of historical characters and how they are more rounded than their conventional portrayal suggests:

“[Willam] Harris had spoken up for some pacifists which caused Roger Williams to call him an anarchist. Peri had never heard of this controversy. She had been taught that Williams was the most tolerant of the Puritans. She wondered if Harris had hanged.”

Other noteworthy aspects of the book include how a conventional Western young man like Liam could become drawn to ISIS, and how God led Daniel, within his own Native American culture, to become open to Christianity. The latter will resonate with those who enjoy Don Richardson’s Eternity in their Hearts, which concerns how God reveals Godself in non-Christian cultures and thus makes them open to the Gospel.

The best part of the story itself is when Peri finally meets Ayoub, with each of them surprised to encounter another time traveler.

This book is clearer than Denny’s “Tzoladia” series. I was still confused in some places, perhaps because of my own struggle with reading fiction. Non-fiction is better at laying things out, whereas, with fiction, the reader needs to do more work on his or her own part. Not really understanding what a “bodkin” is may have sown some confusion on my part, as the bodkin plays a significant part in this book; there is also the factor, if memory serves me correctly, that there are two supernatural bodkins, yet both are the same one: the one in the museum, and that bodkin in the past.

I was a little unclear about how Peri could marry Daniel when she was Ayoub’s captive.

Then there is the identification of the mysterious Dr. Bey. He turns out to be another character who is in the book, but my response was “Who?” I do not think he was the Islamic mystic, since the Islamic mystic is a good person, but I am unsure. Sorry for the spoiler there. Perhaps that aspect of the book could have been resolved had Denny included in the back a guide about the main characters, like her excellent guide about the historical personages in the book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. My review is honest!

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Book Write-Ups: The Servant of the Lord and His Servant People; Reformation Commentary on John 13-21; Every Leaf, Line, and Letter

Here are some reviews of IVP review books I was sent. The reviews will be succinct. These will be the last IVP review books that I review in a long time. I enjoy them, but there are other books that I want to read, without necessarily having to blog about them. In the near future, I will review R.A. Denny’s The Alchemy Thief, but that will probably be the only book review that I write in a long time.

A. Matthew S. Harmon. The Servant of the Lord and the Servant People: Tracing a Biblical Theme through the Canon. IVP Academic, 2020. Go here to purchase the book.

As the title indicates, Harmon goes through the concept of the “servant of the LORD” throughout the Bible. What stands out in my mind is his interaction with the scholarly argument that the New Testament rarely applies Isaiah 53 to Jesus, questioning whether Isaiah 53 was even significant in and formative of early Christianity. The reason that this stands out to me is that it was an issue that one of my advisors wanted me to engage in my M.Div. thesis, which argued that Isaiah 53 predicted Christ. (This was Harvard Divinity School, where such a thesis would be controversial.) Harmon contended that, indeed, the New Testament was significantly influenced by Isaiah 53.

B. Reformation Commentary on Scripture: John 13-21. IVP Academic, 2021. Go here to purchase the book.

Like the other books in this series, this one quotes Lutheran, Calvinist, Anabaptist, and pre-Tridentine Catholic interpretations of biblical passages. In this case, the passages are John 13-21. John 13-21 is a fruitful section of Scripture. There are passages about God giving believers whatever they request in Jesus’s name, Jesus’s promise that the disciples will do greater things than Jesus did, the promise of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus’s statement that the disciples will be able to forgive and retain sins. I was edified in reading the book, but all I remember at this point is the interpretations of how the disciples will do greater things than Jesus did: that it applied to the first century apostles, not believers afterwards. I guess these Reformers were not Pentecostals.

The glossary in the back refreshed my memory about some things that I read in the previous Reformation Commentaries’ glossaries. For example, Henry VIII did not become a Protestant simply because he disliked his wife and the Catholic church would not grant him an annulment. Rather, he had an Old Testament reason for the annulment: “Believing his marriage cursed as it transgressed the commands in Leviticus against marrying a brother’s widow…” (What about Levirate marriage?) That was the official reason, but then I read in E. Michael Jones’s Barren Metal that Henry VIII was not even consistent in this stance.

C. Timothy Larsen, ed. Every Leaf, Line, and Letter: Evangelicals and the Bible from the 1730s to the Present. Go here to purchase the book.

Various scholars contribute to this book, which primarily concerns the interpretation and application of the Bible in eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth century America. There are a couple of chapters that go outside of the United States, such as one on charismatic renewal in 1960’s Britain and New England, and another on evangelicalism in a global context. I will not go through each chapter but rather will comment briefly on select chapters:

Kristina Benham, “British Exodus, American Empire: Evangelical Preachers and the Biblicisms of Revolution.” Mark A. Noll, “Missouri, Denmark Vesey, Biblical Proslavery, and a Crisis for Sola Scriptura.”

I include these chapters together because both highlight a tension in attempts to apply the Bible. On the one hand, the Bible encourages submission to authority. Romans 13 comes to mind. The Bible also appears to condone slavery. On the other hand, the Bible condemns authoritarianism. American revolutionaries and abolitionists drew more from the latter strain of thought. How they sought to reconcile their views with the former is where they become interesting. One abolitionist, for example, sought to explain Leviticus 25’s statement that Israelites can hold non-Israelite slaves in perpetuity by referring to the circumcision of non-Israelite slaves in Exodus 12: when they are circumcised, they become Israelites and thus can be released on the seventh year, like Israelite slaves. Maybe, but does that not make Leviticus 25’s statement meaningless and unnecessary? Unless, I suppose, Gentile slaves in Exodus 12 could choose to remain uncircumcised.

Jonathan Yeager, “Faith, Free Will, and Biblical Reasoning in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards and John Erskine.”

Edwards did not see humans as automatons as much as I thought, and Edwards leaned, somewhat, towards a Catholic view on justification. At this time, I lean heavily onto the “Christ’s imputed righteousness” model, since my own moral thoughts fall dramatically short from where Christians say they should be. But there are a variety of views out there. That is why I cannot be dogmatic in sharing a canned “Romans Road” or “Way of the Master” Gospel with people.

Mary Riso, “Josephine Butler’s Mystic Vision and Her Love for the Jesus of the Gospels.”

Josephine Butler stressed the significance of suffering in spirituality. Such a message does not resonate with me currently, since things are going fairly well in my life: I take Zoloft, I have a job, and people there seem to like me, or at least they act like they do! The same incel (not violent incel, but just incel) feelings are still present, but I am living with them. Of course, there are other people who are suffering, and I should try to cultivate empathy. (Note: This is why I hate blogging. I write a thought, fear that people will call me self-centered, then feel a compulsion to qualify what I am saying, resulting in a jumbled mess.) Anyway, where this chapter resonated with me was when Riso started talking about Butler’s alienation from organized Christianity, particularly the doctrine of hell.

Timothy Larsen, “Liberal Evangelicals and the Bible.”

Larsen critiques Vernon Storr, a liberal evangelical Anglican in the early twentieth century. This chapter is effective in showing how Storr’s liberal evangelicalism is inadequate: Storr believes the Bible is errant and stresses its human aspect, with the result that he cannot provide a solid authoritative basis for Christian doctrine or theology. Larsen, however, seems to go to the opposite extreme, acting as if the Bible lacks problems and even seriously entertaining conservative attempts to reconcile how many animals went onboard Noah’s ark. Larsen has one humorous insight, though: when he observes that Storr appeared embarrassed when a biblical prophecy actually was fulfilled! Storr’s proposed approach to the Bible was essentially to look at the main idea rather than the details of biblical passages. That may be one way to reconcile the apparently problematic nature of the Bible with Christian faith, but it makes the Bible boring. One reason I like to read the Bible is to figure out why it says what it says, as it says it: it provides unending intellectual stimulation. If all I can get from the Bible is “be nice to people,” then it would be a dull book.

Malcolm Foley, “‘The Only Way to Stop a Mob’: Francis Grimke’s Biblical Case for Lynching Resistance.”

Francis Grimke made a lucid and compelling case against lynching in the South. This may seem obvious, but if you read and listen to white nationalists, you get the impression that lynching was understandable because it was carried out against rapists. Grimke provides an effective counter-point to that position. Foley also notes James Baldwin’s observation that, notwithstanding southern whites’ condemnation of miscegenation, there were white slaveholders who had children by their black slaves. White nationalists can retort “But that doesn’t mean miscegenation is right,” but that inconsistency in white Southern culture should be addressed, somehow, considering the importance of anti-miscegenation arguments in defenses of segregation.

John Maiden, “‘As at the Beginning’: Charismatic Renewal and the Reanimation of Scripture in Britain and New Zealand in the ‘Long’ 1960s.”

Maiden talks about how charismatics were discontent with the overly intellectual nature of evangelicalism and sought (maybe even had) an emotional Spirit-filled faith. These days, the intellectual content of Christianity appeals to me. I am hanging onto my faith like a thread, but I can still enjoy Charles Hodge, with his dispassionate approach! When it come to the charismatic movement, I feel, as I long have, that either God is leaving me out, or that charismatics are too dogmatic about God’s views, or that charismatics show Christianity to be too “real” for my comfort.

Catherine A. Brekus, “The American Patriot’s Bible: Evangelicals, the Bible, and American Nationalism.”

This chapter is nauseatingly and predictably woke, but its critique of the American Patriot’s Bible does highlight nuances in American history and thus is an effective critique of “Christian right” conceptions of U.S. history. In my view, the secular humanist progressive conceptions are problematic, too.

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The New American: Celebrate! Columbus “Divided History” and Deserves to be Defended, Not Upended

https://thenewamerican.com/celebrate-columbus-divided-history-and-deserves-to-be-defended-not-upended/

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Morning Wire: China’s Socially Conservative Reasons for Banning Video Games

China is restricting video games, thinking that they demasculinize men, making them weaker and less interested in starting a family. Family is increasingly becoming important to China due to the impact of the one-child policy, which resulted in a dearth of women. Instead of boys playing video games, they are to do more P.E. in school and learn traditional masculine values.

What was not really discussed in this episode: Is China doing this, in part, for military preparation.

https://www.dailywire.com/episode/saturday-september-4-2021

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FAIR: The Media Myth of ‘Once Prosperous’ and Democratic Venezuela Before Chávez

Some noteworthy passages:

“It began on February 27, 1989. Venezuelan security forces killed hundreds, and possibly thousands, of poor people over a five-day period. The poor had risen up in revolt against an IMF-imposed “structural adjustment” program that involved stiff hikes to fuel prices and bus fares. The program was imposed by President Carlos Andres Pérez, a man who had campaigned saying that IMF programs were like a ‘neutron bomb that killed people but left buildings standing.’”

“By 2001, the US government realized that Chávez was not going to be like Pérez, who made a sick joke of his anti-IMF rhetoric once he was in office. Chávez was actually going to try to follow through on his promises to change the system and assert his country’s sovereignty. Chávez aggressively opposed the US invasion of Afghanistan, and even said that the US ambassador came calling and disrespectfully asked him to reverse his position. That provoked Chávez to order the ambassador out of the room. This was a key event in the souring of Venezuela/US relations…”

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Elder Platform for California

“Elder says his top priorities as governor would be reducing the cost of housing—second highest in the nation—by rescinding California’s lengthy environmental review process, ending the state’s rolling blackouts by halting the closure of the state’s last nuclear facility and reauthorizing gas and oil drilling, ending worsening droughts by investing in desalination technology, increasing police funding to combat crime, and more school choice—an issue that he says is particularly dear to his heart because of his experience growing up in South Central Los Angeles.”

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