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Ed Driscoll

21st Century Gnostics Keeping Us Safe, One Gnome at a Time

December 10th, 2013 - 5:12 pm

Yet another attempt by our 1930s-era cargo cult administration to go Barack to the Future, as spotted by Richard Epstein at the Hoover Institute:

This past week in Washington DC, the President made a speech about the state of the economy and about his determination to reform it. But much as things change, so they remain the same. A great deal of what he said there was reminiscent of a major address he gave two years ago on economic policy before a friendly audience in Osawatomie, Kansas. The President there talked with dizzying rapidity about the lost greatness of America’s past, and his plans to restore that greatness in the future. It’s worth revisiting some of the basic themes of his speech since they obviously continue to inform his policy decisions today.

As is common in speeches that romanticize history to advocate change, Obama’s address contained an unforgivable level of jingoistic nationalism: He claimed, “It was here in America that the most productive workers, the most innovative companies turned out the best products on Earth…. Today, we’re still home to the world’s most productive workers. We’re still home to the world’s most innovative companies.”

No one, not even the United States, can be that good. In fact, our present national status will only become worse if we do not understand that the American position has eroded from its glory days, in part because of the very policies that the President champions as the solution to our issues. But where to begin? The President manages to pack so many economic and historical falsehoods into his speech that it is nearly impossible to take them all on at the same time.

“A rehash of failed progressive policies will not return the United States to greatness,” and while I was tempted to quote that last sentence and snark, “talk about breaking news from 2009,” the reason why the cycle won’t be broken anytime soon is that it’s not policy — it’s religion. Or as Derek Hunter writes at Townhall, “In Government We Trust” is most assuredly “The Progressive Religion:”

What has happened is Democrats’ previously uncheckable lies are now fully checkable. It’s real now. You can’t keep your doctor or insurance, no matter how much you like them. And this hurts in the wallet – a lot. Now that we know this does not qualify as a practical solution, certainly not to health care anyway, Democrats –with all the credibility of a used-Pinto salesman – now embrace “morality” as the reason to embrace Obamacare.

In a column reeking of desperation on par with a kid hoping for a unicorn under his Christmas tree, the Washington Post’s Ryan Cooper complied a list of reasons “Why millennials will come around on Obamacare.” Aside from a desperate lack of understanding of health policy and how people work, the second reason Cooper lists stands out. He writes, “Going without health insurance is morally wrong.”

I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in.

This pathetic attempt to manipulate the unthinking into an overwhelming sense of guilt that forces them to capitulate may work on those with fewer IQ points than fingers, but it won’t work on those with a third-grade education.

Cooper explains, “The only way insurance can work for everyone is if everyone is in the system so risk can be pooled. This one doesn’t carry much weight yet, since the system isn’t even operating. But as time passes, this will become an important norm — and for young people, the norm has outsized importance (older people already have a reason to get coverage; they get sick more easily). Getting insurance will be part of living in a decent society where everyone chips in when they can afford it, and free-riding is frowned upon — and over time, young people will come to see this as part of being a responsible citizen.”

Those 108 words are an incredibly inefficient way of rephrasing “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

Cooper’s appeal wouldn’t be noteworthy were it a lone cactus in the desert, but it’s not.

Also this week the buffoonish Ed Schultz, MSNBC’s angry Fred Flintstone clone, mused about how God would feel about Obamacare. “I’ll tell you what I think God thinks of the Affordable Care Act. It’s a big amen!”

Not to be outdone in the office pool of idiocy, Charlie Brown’s illegitimate child, Chris Matthews, had an offering on this theme. Matthews temporarily snapped out of his loving gaze while interviewing the president Thursday and put the cherry on top of one of this planet’s worst displays of sycophantism to utter what was supposed to be a question: “You know, Mr. President, your — your remarks the other day on economic justice to me, as a Roman Catholic, was so resonant with what the Holy Father, Francis, has been saying. Talk about that common Judeo-Christian or, even further, Muslim background to the belief we have a social responsibility, a moral responsibility to look out for people who haven’t made it in this country.”

It’s a religion, but a gnostic one, as Jonah Goldberg wrote a decade ago in his explanation of the early National Review catchphrase, originally coined by Eric Voegelin in 1952, “Don’t Immanentize the Eschaton:”

Voegelin believed that Western civilization took a wrong turn under those damnable Gnostics. Gnostics are small furry creatures with opposable thumbs and who tend to get into your garbage cans. Oh, wait. Sorry. Those are raccoons (whom Cosmo considers to be Gnostics — very long story there).

Gnostics were pre-Christian, early Christian, and various Jewish sects who believed that if you stood on one foot while saying the alphabet backwards, or some other silliness, you could release your soul from material constraints while you were still alive.

Actually, that may not be exactly right either. The problem is that Gnosticism took many forms, in many places, over many distinct periods (sort of like bell-bottom pants). The central thing to keep in mind is that Gnostics believed that personal enlightenment — or revelation to a specific truth or viewpoint — liberated you from the need to find salvation in the afterlife or through any conventional, institutional means. Instead of going to salvation, they brought salvation to them (a Muslim Gnostic, I assume, could have his 72 virgins delivered to his home — which, if true, would make Islamic Gnosticism the fastest-growing religion in the world, for men). It’s not surprising, then, that the Catholic Church was constantly putting out Gnostic fires through most of its history.

Because the Gnostics believed they — and they alone — had figured out God’s plan in the here and now, they tended to be very, very smug and more than a little annoying (except when they were on the rack, which tended to make them a lot less smirky). It also inclined Gnostics to argue that heaven could be established here on earth, that through material or political means they could perfect the inherently imperfectible.

If that sounds shockingly like Hillary Clinton to you, you deserve a door prize (“But I don’t need a door!” my couch just heckled). Voegelin believed that Gnosticism flourished in the liberal, leftist, Nazi, and Communist minds. These folks were hell-bent (heh, heh) on creating heaven on earth. According to Voegelin’s perspective, Ralph Nader is a direct descendant of — I am not making this up — such 9th-century crypto-Gnostic thinkers as Scotus Eriugena (if you are tempted to write me saying, “Eriugena was a pantheist, not a Gnostic,” I bet you need a tan too).

And today we discover that in their efforts to immanentize the eschaton, our 21st century gnostics are “Keeping us safe, one gnome at a time,” as center-left National Journal reports:

You can add orcs to the list of things that the National Security Agency is spying on.

According to new classified documents obtained by Edward Snowden, NSA agents have entered the online realms of World of Warcraft, Xbox Live, and Second life. A 2008 NSA document, reported out by ProPublica, calls the online gaming communities a “target-rich communication network” which would let possible terrorists “hide in plain sight.” As has been the case with other leaked NSA docs, these new ones are not without their exclamations. Getting agents in on these games is “an opportunity!”

What does an NSA agent in World of Warcraft look like? What levels are we talking about? Well, as it turns out, there are 120 characters in the Warcraft realm named Nsa. We’re not saying that any of these characters are actually NSA agents, but the agency has already shown a penchant for the uncreative.

So far, it’s unclear what, if anything, the digital sleuthing has turned up. But the NSA infiltration has definitely pissed off a whole lot of World of Warcraft users.

Sheldor the Conqueror could not be reached for comment. However, President Obama could — “Obama Says Everyone Should Learn How to Hack,” the lame, left-leaning Condé Nast incarnation of Wired reports:

The endeavor is reminiscent of the “Year of Code” campaign promoted in 2012 by programming tutorial company Codecademy, which culminated in New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tweeting that his New Year’s resolution was to learn to code. The campaign earned criticism from some programmers who think technical skills are being overemphasized.

“I would no more urge everyone to learn programming than I would urge everyone to learn plumbing,” Discourse co-founder and CTO Jeff Atwood wrote.

None the less, the code literacy movement has continued apace. Several companies are taking part the Hour of Code and Computer Science Education Week. Apple is hosting Hour of Code tutorials at its Apple Store retail locations, and Codecademy today launched an iPhone app for learning code on the go.

But the big question on everyone’s minds? Whether will Obama take his own advice and complete a programming tutorial today.

Wait, I thought he was personally coding the Obamacare Website, as fellow Democrat Jennifer Granholm lamely quipped on Meet the Press in late October.

In the meantime, Iowahawk is succinct in his BASIC response:

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“The only way insurance can work for everyone is if everyone is in the system so risk can be pooled."

That's called insurance. While healthy, you begin paying premiums in return for the pool accepting the future risk that you'll develop something expensive to treat.

"Getting insurance will be part of living in a decent society where everyone chips in when they can afford it, and free-riding is frowned upon."

But Obamacare contains the nullification of insurance - the forced acceptance of folks with pre-existing conditions, which turns the insurance company into a government-forced jackpot for the last-minute 'policy' buyers. That's the very essence of free-riding.

The concept of 'the pool' is truncated - there's no requirement for acquiring a policy while still healthy. So the upstream end of the pool is truncated, and actuarial probabilities of any individual needing treatment are replaced by the fist of Washington demanding that the company pay up or else.

There is no longer health insurance. It's been replaced by a mandatory pre-paid health plan, by connivance of the government with insurance companies, who were promised inflated premiums from the millennials (those who weren't on their parents' policies) as payoffs for their losses to the last-minute signers with pre-existing conditions.

Only the swarm of 'intellectuals' around the White House, who've never worked in a business which must satisfy voluntary customers to survive, could dream that such a fanatasy would work, or that moral suasion would convince the young plunderees to enter their long lives of being exploited for the benefit of their wealthy elders.
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