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Belmont Club

Monthly Archives: August 2010

Holier Than Thou, But It’s OK

August 31st, 2010 - 7:01 pm

Glenn Beck has traveled to Italy to talk about God. He hired 200 professional models to attend his event and lectured them on the superiority of Christianity to any other religion. He told the models that they were far more respected in Red States than they were in Italy.

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In God We Trust; All Others Must Pay Cash

August 31st, 2010 - 12:14 pm

The NYT describes why Wall Street is turning against President Obama. It claims that Wall Street’s overwhelming support for Obama in 2008 (70:30 D-R) has flipped (32:68 D-R) because of 1) Obama’s new financial regulations and 2) a realization that while “bankers, hedge fund mangers and traders supported the Obama candidacy because he [once] appealed to their egos” they’ve suddenly realized they were being set up all along to become the “villains”.

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Hi Lo

August 30th, 2010 - 7:51 pm

Winds of Change has an interesting article on public policy functions that don’t behave in the expected way. They don’t return a “true” or “false” but return an item from a list, like the old oriental game of scissor, paper, stone.  The rule is hard to explain, but if you read the Winds of Change example, it is simple to understand.

The Atlantic can run a hyperventilating piece on how the Koch Brothers are funding groups, implying it’s a Bad Thing – because the Koch Brothers have views that The Atlantic wants its readers to oppose. But inquire into the sorts of things Imam Rauf has supported, and it’s off-limits, despicable even.

Or let’s try another one.Bill Press says Glenn Beck is despicable because you can’t talk about God on sacred ground.

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To and Fro in the Middle East

August 30th, 2010 - 1:49 pm

Jonathan Spyer recently observed that “if the U.S. leaves a void here, the secondary powers in the region—Israel, Turkey, and Iran—will begin tussling with one another for dominance.” And lower down the food chain the proxies may be fighting for turf. Hanin Ghaddar from Lebanon Now says that street fighting which broke out in Beirut between Hezbollah and a Syrian militia called Al-Abash.

the clashes must be seen as a message from Syria to Hezbollah that Damascus is back and that the Party of God no longer single-handedly controls the political scene in Lebanon. It is also worth mentioning that this happened immediately after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that he would visit Lebanon on September 11 and 12.

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And They Still Don’t Get It

August 29th, 2010 - 4:23 am

Clive Crook of the Atlantic professes not to understand why the “Restoring Honor” rally at the Washington Mall was so heavily attended. How could so many people want to listen to the doltish Glenn Beck? There must be something wrong with America.

Doubtless it marks me out as a member of the uncomprehending godless elite, but I find the popularity of Glenn Beck very hard to understand. … He strikes me as a huckster drunk on his own pitch, a true believer in his own cult, ready to hurtle off the rails at any moment — and all of this seems obvious.

But the cause of Crook’s perplexity is equally obvious. He’s starting off at the wrong end of the argument. While Glenn Beck may have genuine fans, the attendance at the “Restoring Honor” rally wasn’t driven by people running to Beck so much as propelled by people running away from “the uncomprehending godless elite.” If Brook wants to understand why so many, he should look in the mirror and ask, “why so few?”

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The Age of Apostasy

August 28th, 2010 - 3:19 am

Readers may recall Maher El-Gohary, the subject of a post about a month ago. He was an Egyptian Muslim who decided to convert to Christianity, which resulted in a spate of death threats against him.  Gohary attempted to escape the fate of an apostate by trying to emigrate to Australia, an application which was promptly denied. Although Western intellectuals believe Christianity is in decline, it is by some accounts the fastest growing religion in the world. China may soon be have the world’s biggest population of Christians. Inevitably, some of those who decide to become Christians are now Muslims. Apparently El-Gohary’s problem is quite widespread. Apostasy is becoming a global problem and a number of protests have been scheduled in cities throughout the world to support the right of Muslims to change their religion. I attended the first of these at Martin Place in Sydney and was surprised to hear Barack Obama’s name mentioned in connection with the El-Gohary case. More on this later, but in the meantime, I listened to Mark Durie‘s  explanation on the subject.

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The Year of Transition

August 26th, 2010 - 3:18 pm

The year 2010 may be remembered in retrospect as the year of “if only”. Michael Totten describes “the perfect Iranian storm on the horizon”. The key line of his report is from Jonathan Spyer. “If the U.S. leaves a void here, the secondary powers in the region—Israel, Turkey, and Iran—will begin tussling with one another for dominance.” That void will in the first instance be filled by an Iran backed by a nuclear weapons, which will redouble its subversion behind that shield. The IAEA, famous for blaming America for crying wolf, now says Iran has material for one or two nuclear weapons.

If that were all.

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“Fair to see yet bound to die”

August 25th, 2010 - 7:17 pm

A newsletter sent onward to me from Morgan Stanley describes the global sovereign debt crisis whose effects will presently be felt. It is no longer a question of whether sovereign debt default is possible; it is almost a matter of when and how bad.  The current sovereign debt crisis is different from the high periods of  indebtedness in the past in that it is going not to acquire assets but to pay for consumption. And not only present consumption, but future entitlement.

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Forget the Hope, Just Blame Someone

August 24th, 2010 - 3:16 pm

The American Observer has an animation showing how US unemployment rates have changed by country between January 2007 and May 2010. Due to the colors chosen to key the map, the animation resembles footage of lights being turned out all over America. If you watch the presentation enough times it begins to look like the spread of a pox over the body of a victim, with adjacent areas changing color as they are infected. There is no visual indication of a retreat in the disease. No intimation of a “recovery summer”. In fact it does not appear to have reached its high-water mark yet.

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The Inner Circle

August 23rd, 2010 - 2:09 pm

When Oleg Atbashian described the “Professional Left” he might well have been describing the way in which Wikileaks funds itself. That is, professionally and with great secrecy. Atbashian takes the reader on a tour of an economic sector that can boom in a recession: the paid Left. That whose name must never be mentioned.

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