Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Sixty Six who resisted “Sugar-coated Satan Sandwich” Debt Deal (Part 28)

The Sixty Six who resisted “Sugar-coated Satan Sandwich” Debt Deal (Part 28)

This post today is a part of a series I am doing on the 66 Republican Tea Party favorites that resisted eating the “Sugar-coated Satan Sandwich” Debt Deal. Actually that name did not originate from a representative who agrees with the Tea Party, but from a liberal.

Rep. Emanuel Clever (D-Mo.) called the newly agreed-upon bipartisan compromise deal to raise the  debt limit “a sugar-coated satan sandwich.”

“This deal is a sugar-coated satan sandwich. If you lift the bun, you will not like what you see,” Clever tweeted on August 1, 2011.

Washington, D.C.Today, Congressman Marlin Stutzman (IN-03) discussed the upcoming vote to increase the ‘Debt Ceiling’ by $2.4 trillion from $14.29 trillion to $16.7 trillion.  H. R. 1954 the bill to ‘implement the President’s request to increase the statutory limit on public debt’ to cover our $1.6 trillion budget shortfall will be voted on later this evening and is expected to fail with both Democrats and Republicans voting against.  The bill would fulfill the requests of the Democrat leadership to have a vote on a “clean” bill or a bill that raises the debt ceiling without spending cuts or any other mechanism to control deficits.
“Increasing the ‘debt ceiling’ cannot be discussed in a vacuum.” Stutzman stated “I will vote no for increasing the ‘debt limit’ as the out of control spending of Washington must be curtailed before we even discuss an increase.  If Congress cannot come to an agreement on increasing the public debt then Secretary Geithner will have to look into prioritizing our National debt.  Prioritizing the ‘debt’ will allow for Social Security, the Military and Veteran’s Affairs to maintain their programs and not affect those that depend on them.  The President must come to the table with budget reforms; he doesn’t understand the financial situation the Nation is in.  So far only the House has written and passed a budget.”
More information on H.R. 1954 can be found at www.Thomas.gov.
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Federal Spending is out of control

People think that there are budget cuts. However, federal spending is still going up.

Federal Spending Hits $4.1 Trillion

Posted by Chris Edwards

If you looked at the new CBO report on the budget, you may have noticed that federal spending this year will be $3.6 trillion.

In fact, federal spending this year will top $4 trillion. But virtually all reporters and budget wonks (including me) routinely use the lower number when discussing total federal spending. I don’t think the higher $4 trillion number even appears anywhere in the CBO report.

The $3.6 trillion figure is “net” outlays. But “gross” outlays, or total spending, is quite a bit higher. The difference is caused by “offsetting collections” and “offsetting receipts.” These are revenue inflows to the government that are netted against spending at the program level, agency level, or government-wide level. Some examples are national park fees, Medicare premiums, and royalties earned on mineral deposits. There are hundreds of these cash inflows to the government that offset reported spending.

Details on these revenue offsets can be found in Chapter 16 of OMB’s Analytical Perspectives(pdf). In fiscal year 2010, net federal outlays were $3.456 trillion, but gross outlays were $4.057 trillion. Thus, gross outlays were 17 percent larger than widely reported net outlays.

In FY 2011, OMB expects gross outlays to be about 15 percent larger than net outlays. Thus, gross outlays this year will be $4.1 trillion, compared to net outlays of $3.6 trillion. As a share of GDP, gross outlays will be about 27.3 percent of GDP, compared to net outlays of 23.8 percent.

Accounting for offsets in this manner is a long-standing convention, but it is one of the sneaky ways that Washington tries to hide its large intrusion into the economy. Certainly, the CBO and OMB should include more prominent presentations of gross outlays in their regular budget updates.

For citizens and reporters, a rule-of-thumb to remember is that total federal spending is 3 to 4 percentage points of GDP larger than usually reported by officials.

Unemployment benefits help the economy?

Over and over we hear that unemployment benefits help stimulate the economy, but that is far from the truth.

August 29, 2011 at 3:03 pm

President Obama’s pick as chairman of the White House Council on Economic Advisors co-authored a paper that showed that extending unemployment benefits will likely exacerbate joblessness. The paper’s findings run counter to the president’s economic argument for an unemployment benefit extension, which is expected to be a major part of the jobs plan he will unveil early next month.

Princeton University economist Alan Krueger, who will replace Austan Goolsbee as the White House’s chief economic advisor, “is likely to provide a voice inside the administration for more-aggressive government action to bring down unemployment and, particularly, to address long-term joblessness,” according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

But will Krueger’s recommendations jive with the president’s apparent economic and political agenda? Kruegerco-authored a paper for the Handbook of Public Economics in 2002 that seems to undercut the economic argument for extending unemployment benefits. The paper found that those benefits tend to increase the length of unemployment by discouraging the search for a new job, and may actually encourage layoffs. Conversely, the paper also found that unemployed persons who are ineligible for benefits search harder for a job and are therefore unemployed for less time.

The president and his political allies have called for an unemployment benefit extension as a form of economic stimulus. Obama recently claimed that such an extension will “put money in people’s pockets and more customers in stores.” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney claimed that an extension of unemployment benefits could create up to a million jobs.

Liberal economic theory holds that additional government handouts will stimulate consumer demand, create economic activity, and therefore lead to greater employment as businesses take in more revenue. While Krueger did not examine the direct effect of unemployment benefits on economic growth, the 2002 NBER paper did conclude that such benefits do not alleviate, and may very well exacerbate unemployment.

“The empirical work on unemployment insurance (UI) and workers’ compensation (WC) insurance finds that the programs tend to increase the length of time employees spend out of work,” the abstract of Krueger’s paper states. The paper’s examination of others’ work on unemployment benefits finds that “the main labor supply effect of UI is to lengthen unemployment spells.”

The paper also finds that increasing the length of unemployment benefits directly contributes to unemployment. “[I]ncreases in either the level or potential duration of benefits raise the value of being unemployed,” the paper states, “reducing search intensity and increasing the reservation wage.” More generous unemployment benefits, in other words, reduce the incentive to find employment. “Higher and longer duration UI benefits,” the paper adds,” will cause unemployed workers who receive UI to take longer to find a new job.”

On the other hand, workers who are not eligible for unemployment benefits or who have approached or reached the maximum duration of benefits, are more likely to search for, and hence to find work. The study saw an increase in the “escape rate from unemployment for workers who currently do not qualify for benefits and for qualified workers close to when benefits are exhausted.” The study calls this the “entitlement effect.”

Like other entitlements, it is meant as a “social safety net,” not an economic recovery policy. There may be humanitarian reasons to extend unemployment benefits (with corresponding budget offsets), but as a jobs program, by Krueger’s account, the policy will probably fall flat.

Krueger’s paper focuses on economic incentives, and finds –perhaps unsurprisingly – that paying people for being out of work encourages employment in layoff-prone industries, and discourages the search for a new job once a worker is unemployed. It also tends to encourage employees to “work less hard on the current job,” the paper states, due to their knowledge that they will be eligible for unemployment benefits in the event of a layoff.

The moral hazard and skewed incentives of unemployment benefits do not create a healthier economic climate – from the perspective of employment, at least – Krueger’s paper finds. But the president has already signaled both his intention to extend unemployment benefits and his belief that they will, in fact, stimulate the struggling economy.

Will the president heed the findings of his newest chief economic advisor – who, for what it’s worth, supports the liberal political position on other high-profile issues – or stick to a dogmatically liberal approach in the face of Krueger’s own academic work?

The Sixty Six who resisted “Sugar-coated Satan Sandwich” Debt Deal (Part 27)

The Sixty Six who resisted “Sugar-coated Satan Sandwich” Debt Deal (Part 27)

This post today is a part of a series I am doing on the 66 Republican Tea Party favorites that resisted eating the “Sugar-coated Satan Sandwich” Debt Deal. Actually that name did not originate from a representative who agrees with the Tea Party, but from a liberal.

Rep. Emanuel Clever (D-Mo.) called the newly agreed-upon bipartisan compromise deal to raise the  debt limit “a sugar-coated satan sandwich.”

“This deal is a sugar-coated satan sandwich. If you lift the bun, you will not like what you see,” Clever tweeted on August 1, 2011.

Rokita Votes Against Debt Ceiling Increase

Aug 1, 2011 Issues: Spending Cuts and Debt
 
 
 

Rep. Todd Rokita voted against the Budget Control Act of 2011 because it fails to implement the long-term permanent and structural reforms necessary to put the nation back on a fiscally sustainable trajectory:

“I have heard a couple different definitions of leadership today.  Let me add mine: leadership is effectively persuading others of the proper course of action.  It is also about standing up for those who have no voice. For decades now, we have spent too much money on ourselves and have intentionally allowed our kids and grandkids to pay for it.  It is intergenerational theft—literally stealing from our best asset, our posterity.  The correct course of action, as I have said from the beginning, is to enact permanent and structural reform as the price for raising the debt ceiling.  Today’s bill does not do that.

This legislation is a Washington deal, and it barely begins to address our long-term spending problem. Our debt crisis is driven by mandatory spending on entitlement programs and this plan fails to address such spending.  Also, this plan only reduces the future debt we will pile on the backs of our kids from $10 trillion to around $7 trillion over the next decade.  It does not begin to reduce our $14 trillion in current debt. 

However, this legislation could eventually lead to the best permanent solution, a balanced budget amendment.  This is certainly worth fighting for and I will lead on that front.  But a vote alone is not worth the $2.5 trillion price tag, again to be paid by future generations. For that price, we should have required passage of a balanced budget amendment for state ratification.

I will continue to fight for a balanced budget amendment, lead our nation to live within its means and tackle out-of-control entitlement spending. It will be a long fight, but the enactment of a balanced budget amendment is the only way to fix the broken system that created this mess, both addressing our long-term fiscal health and giving Americans long-term peace of mind.”  

Obama and Fannie and Freddie

President Obama doesn’t get it. He still wants to force the government to get poor people into the housing market even though they can not make the payments.

The New Fannie and Freddie: Flim and Flam

by Jagadeesh Gokhale

 

This article appeared in Forbes on August 29, 2011.

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As the economy remains stalled, and the election draws closer, the Obama administration seems increasingly willing to consider proposals that will further distort the housing market and seem to have the ultimate goal of preserving a major role for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — the two giant government sponsored enterprises at the core of the housing finance debacle that caused the Great Recession.

This is not really surprising considering we’re at the start of another election season when politicians are scrambling for goodies to sell for votes. Under the slogan of preserving the American Dream, the Obama election campaign is promising to resurrect the old policy of extending implicit government backing to Fannie and Freddie — if the President is re-elected.

The Obama Administration has outlined major policy initiatives to preserve a role for the same mortgage-lending giants that have had to be bailed out repeatedly since 2008 at taxpayer cost of $130 billion to date. The latest proposal would allow homeowners with underwater mortgages backed by Fannie and Freddie to refinance. This would be expected to transfer money from taxpayers to homeowners and, by increasing expected taxpayer burdens, is likely to delay economic recovery in consumer spending.

Jagadeesh Gokhaleis a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, member of the Social Security Advisory Board, and author ofSocial Security: A Fresh Look at Reform Alternatives, University of Chicago Press.

More by Jagadeesh Gokhale

 

It is worth noting that the Administration’s recent report on housing policy begins by blaming the private sector for initiating riskier lending practices: To wit:

Initially, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were largely on the sidelines while private markets generated increasingly risky mortgages. Between 2001 and 2005, private-label securitizations of Alt-A and subprime mortgages grew fivefold, yet Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continued to primarily guarantee fully documented, high-quality mortgages.

This reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of how private markets work — one that needs to be exorcised before we can move to better policies. The Administration’s statement assumes that private lenders’ business decisions and risk-taking activities occur in a vacuum. On the contrary, the very existence of Fannie and Freddie to subsidize and support home lending probably triggered private risk taking at the margin in that sector.

The long-standing and profitable operation of housing GSEs — their purchases of home-loans financed out of bond sales to the public at cheap rates because of the implicit government backing they enjoyed — generated a long-sustained upward spiral in home prices, reduced aggregate risk perceptions in home finance among private lenders, and attracted capital including foreign savings. That made Fannie and Freddie a part of the constellation of government policies that promoted a steep home price bubble — that eventually burst to deliver the Great Recession.

The correct policy prescription under a buoyant housing market would have been to withdraw the GSEs from the market, and transition to a self sustaining home finance sector. Such a policy, had it commenced during the early 2000s, could have injected caution and countered the growing perception of a risk-free bonanza in home lending that fed the housing price bubble. Instead, Fannie and Freddie’s appetite to preserve market share and profits was only whetted — as the historical record of their massive portfolio expansion by purchasing subprime loans clearly shows.

The Administration is now proposing to “wind down Fannie and Freddie on a responsible timeline,” (that is, remove the old names), to “address fundamental flaws in the mortgage market to protect borrowers, help ensure transparency for investors, and increase the role of private capital,” (that is, increase lending regulations that stifle the private market), and “target the government’s vital support for affordable housing in a more effective and transparent manner” (that is, create new government sponsored home-lending institutions and increase its role in home-finance).

Instead of admitting that the lesson of the housing debacle is that some segments of the population do not deserve and cannot sustain home purchases financed through government subsidized mortgages, the Obama administration’s proposals, including this latest one, seek to “serve the needs of families, lenders, and investors” (but not taxpayers, of course) to “makes us all better off” (again, taxpayers excluded).

Sometimes, when a company fails for reasons unconnected to its business model, its operators attempt to preserve it via cosmetic changes — a new name, new location, or different front-office personnel. Accenture, the business consulting firm — formerly a part of Arthur Andersen that was tainted in the Enron scandal — is now thriving. So is “Sunshine Financial,” the formerly failed “People’s First” home lending business in Florida. Look for something similar to happen to Fannie and Freddie — even though that “business model” has clearly failed.

Advice to Gene Simmons Part 8, (“Tip Tuesday” Part D)

Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed

The series I have been doing on “Advice to Gene Simmons” that I am starting what I am calling “Tip Tuesday.” For the next few months we will be looking at the Simmons family.

In the July 19th episode  Nick said to his father “You were a great father but not a good spouse.” 

On July 19th I watched Gene Simmons Family Jewels and I commented how I  was struck by the good advice that his son Nick gave him. He told him that he grew up thinking that his father was the best. However, now that the marital infidility has come out, it has made Nick think long and hard about what other things in his father’s life are not like he thought they were.

Sophie went even farther and said that Gene “was not a good dad.” Both of these clips were repeated in this week’s episode on July 26th.

I felt like yelling at the tv: “WAKE UP GENE BUT THESE AFFAIRS ARE GOING TO COST YOU THE RELATIONSHIPS OF THOSE WHO TRULY LOVE YOU!!!!!CAN’T YOU SEE WHAT IS REALLY VALUABLE IN LIFE?”

In the message that Brandon Barnard brought to Fellowship Bible Church on July 24th he made a big point out of what the pathway of impurity is like. THE PATHWAY OF IMPURITY IS OPPRESSIVE AND COSTLY.

Then Brandon read these scriptures below:

Proverbs 5:21-23

English Standard Version (ESV)

21For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD,
   and he ponders[a] all his paths.
22The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
   and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
23 He dies for lack of discipline,
   and because of his great folly he is led astray.

Proverbs 6:25-28

English Standard Version (ESV)

25 Do not desire her beauty in your heart,
   and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes;
26for the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread,[a]
   but a married woman[b] hunts down a precious life.
27Can a man carry fire next to his chest
   and his clothes not be burned?
28Or can one walk on hot coals
   and his feet not be scorched?

Proverbs 7:22-23

English Standard Version (ESV)

22All at once he follows her,
   as an ox goes to the slaughter,
or as a stag is caught fast[a]
 23till an arrow pierces its liver;
as a bird rushes into a snare;
   he does not know that it will cost him his life.

____________________________________

Uploaded by on Dec 14, 2010

http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/41-48

We are going to address the subject of divorce because it is the theme of our Lord’s teaching in Mark chapter 10…Mark chapter 10. We’re going to be looking at the twelve verses that launch this chapter and it’s going to be in two parts, one this morning and another one next Sunday. So I’m going to let you know that so that you’re not wondering why I haven’t gotten to all of the issues that relate to this theme. I’m unable to do that until next Sunday and we’ll finish up this text next Sunday morning. And then next Sunday evening, I’m going to add a special message on the issue of divorce from 1 Corinthians chapter 7. That will give you the full picture of what the Scripture teaches about divorce. We’ve also put a little notice in Grace Today about the book, The Divorce Dilemma, which is a handy guide to take you through the Scripture to help you understand these issues.

We’re in Mark chapter 10, The Truth About Divorce. Now if you ask the question, how does God view divorce? There is a short answer. The short answer is given by God Himself in Malachi, the last prophecy at the end of your Old Testament, chapter 2 verse 16 where God says, “I hate divorce… I hate divorce.” That is God’s attitude toward a widely accepted, extremely popular and time-honored institution in human society…God hates divorce.

1970 bombing took away righteous standing of Anti-War movement

1970 bombing took away righteous standing of Anti-War movement

Francis Schaeffer mentioned the 1970 bombing in his film series “How should we then live?” and I wanted to give some more history on it.

Dr. Francis Schaeffer – Episode 9 – The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence

NoMirrorHDDHrorriMoN

______________________

Sunday, August 28th, 2011, 11:11pm

Aug. 24 marked the 41st anniversary of the Sterling Hall bombing on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

Four men planned the bomb at the height of the student protests over the Vietnam War. Back then, current Madison Mayor Paul Soglin was one of the leaders of those student protests in the capitol city. This weekend, Soglin recalled the unrest felt by UW-Madison students.

“The anti-war movement adopted a lot of its tactics and strategies from the civil rights movement which was about ten years older,” said Soglin. “It was one of picketing, demonstration, and passive resistance.”

The four men who planned the bombing focused on the Army Mathematics Research Center housed in Sterling Hall because it was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and therefore, worked on weapons technology. Karl Armstrong was one of the four men and he recently spoke with CBS News in his first television interview detailing the moments right before the bomb was set off.

“He asked me, he says, ‘Should we go ahead? Are we gonna do this?’ I think I made a comment to him about something like, ‘Now, I know what war is about,'” remembered Armstrong. “And I told him to light it.”

The bomb killed one researcher and father of three, 33-year-old Robert Fassnacht, although Armstrong maintains they planned the attack thinking no one would get hurt. The four men heard about the death as they were in their getaway car after the bomb went off.

“I felt good about doing the bombing, the bombing per se, but not taking someone’s life,” recalled Armstrong.

The researcher’s wife told CBS News that she harbors no ill will toward Armstrong and the other bombers. Three of the four men were captured and served time in prison. Armstrong served eight years of a 23-year sentence.

The fourth man, Leo Burt, was last seen in the fall of 1970 in Ontario and is to this day, still wanted by the FBI, with a $150,000 reward for his capture.

E P I S O D E 9

How Should We Then Live? Episode 9

RebelShutze

T h e Age of Personal Peace and Afflunce

I. By the Early 1960s People Were Bombarded From Every Side by Modern Man’s Humanistic Thought

II. Modern Form of Humanistic Thought Leads to Pessimism

Regarding a Meaning for Life and for Fixed Values

A. General acceptance of selfish values (personal peace and affluence) accompanied rejection of Christian consensus.

1. Personal peace means: I want to be left alone, and I don’t care what happens to the man across the street or across the world. I want my own life-style to be undisturbed regardless of what it will mean — even to my own children and grandchildren.

2. Affluence means things, things, things, always more things — and success is seen as an abundance of things.

B. Students wish to escape meaninglessness of much of adult society.

1. Watershed was Berkeley in 1964.

2. Drug Taking as an ideology: “turning on” the world.

3. Free Speech Movement on Sproul Plaza.

a) At first neither Left nor Right.

b) Soon became the New Left.

(1) Followed Marcuse.

(2) Paris riots.

4. Student analysis of problem was right, but solution wrong.

5. Woodstock, Altamont, and the end of innocence.

6. Drug taking survives the death of ideology but as an escape.

7. Demise of New Left: radical bombings.

8. Apathy supreme. The young accept values of the older generation: their own idea of personal peace and affluence, even though adopting a different life-style.

C. Marxism and Maoism as pseudo-ideals.

1. Vogue for idealistic communism which is another form of leap into the area of non-reason.

2. Solzhenitsyn: violence and expediency as norms of communism.

3. Communist repression in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

4. Communism has neither philosophic nor historic base for freedom. There is no base for “Communism with a human face.”

5. Utopian Marxism steals its talk of human dignity from Christianity.

6. But when it comes to power, the desire of majority has no meaning.

7. Two streams of communism.

a) Those who hold it as an idealistic leap.

b) Old-line communists who hold orthodox communist ideology and bureaucratic structure as it exists in Russia.

8. Many in West might accept communism if it seemed to give peace and affluence.

III. Legal and Political Results of Attempted Human Autonomy

A. Relativistic law.

1. Base for nonarbitrary law gone; only inertia allows a few principles to survive.

2. Holmes and sociological (variable) law.

3. Sociological law comes from failure of natural law (see evolution of existential from rationalistic theology).

4. Courts are now generating law.

5. Medical, legal, and historical arbitrariness of Supreme Court ruling on abortion and current abortion practice.

B. Sociological law opens door to racism, abrogation of freedoms,  euthanasia, and so on.

IV. Social Alternatives After Death of Christian Consensus

A. Hedonism? But might is right when pleasures conflict.

B. Without external absolute, majority vote is absolute. But this justifies a Hitler.

V. Conclusion

A. If there is no absolute by which to judge society, then society is absolute.

B. Humanist thinking—making the individual and mankind the center of all things (autonomous) — has led to death in our culture and in our political life.

Note: Social alternatives after the death of Christian consensus are continued in Episode Ten.

Questions

1. What was the basic cause of campus unrest in the sixties? What has happened to the campus scene since, and why?

2. What elements — in the life and thought of the communist and noncommunist world alike — suggest a possible base for world agreement?

3. “To prophesy doom about Western society is premature. We are, like all others who have lived in times of great change, too close to the details to see the broader picture. One thing we do know:

Society has always gone on, and the most wonderful epochs have followed the greatest depressions. To suggest that our day is the exception says more about our headache than it does about our head.” Debate.

4. As Dr. Schaeffer shows, many apparently isolated events and options gain new meaning when seen in the context of the whole. How far does your own involvement in business, law, financing, and so on reveal an acquiescence to current values?

Key Events and Persons

Oliver Wendell Holmes: 1841-1935

Herbert Marcuse: 1898-1979

Alexander Solzhenitsyn: 1917-

Hungarian Revolution: 1956

Free Speech Movement: 1964

Czechoslovakian repression: 1968

Woodstock and Altamont: 1969

Radical bombings: 1970

Supreme Court abortion ruling: 1973

Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago: 1973-74

Further Study

Keeping one’s eyes and ears open is the most useful study project: the prevalence of pornographic films and books, more and more suggestive advertising and TV shows, and signs of arbitrary absolutes.

The following books will repay careful reading, and Solzhenitsyn, though long and horrifying, should not be skipped.

Os Guinness, The Dust of Death (1973).

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago: Parts I-II (1973), Parts III-IV (1974).

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Van Gogh Portrait Purchased for a Mere $3,000

vincent-van-gogh-portrait-jeanne-donnadieuThe art world is buzzing after news broke that a British couple reportedly purchased the only full-length Vincent Van Gogh portrait in existence for a mere 1,500 pounds ($3,000).

The potentially priceless picture was originally listed on an auction website as simply ‘portrait of a man,’ but after extensive research, Michael and Mandy Cruickshank believe the work – thought to have been drawn by Van Gogh’s neighbor – is of the legendary Dutch impressionist, who died in 1890.

The Cruickshank’s, who call themselves “amateur collectors,” aren’t the only ones that think their find is the “real deal” – several art historians, who found several clues in the drawing (and behind it) that point to its authenticity, also share their feelings.

“We compared the painting with a well known self portrait, two other portraits and a photo of Van Gogh from the period. We were hampered slightly because it was a pastel drawing which is less clear, but there is a good case for it being Van Gogh,” the Daily Mail quoted Caroline Erolin, a lecturer in medical and forensic art, as saying.

Among the clues that could possibly validate the artwork is the phrase “L’Incompris” (“The Misunderstood”) – words Van Gogh himself was famous for writing on his own walls – scrawled on the wall in the pastel.

Another is apparently the address scrawled on the back of the paper, 17 Rue Victor Massi.

The Cruickshanks discovered that the road’s name – changed in 1887 – was previously Rue Laval, the same Paris street where Van Gogh and his brother Theo lived.

“There is no way to prove for certain that the subject is Van Gogh, but the evidence is so strong that we are quite certain it is him,” Mrs Cruickshank said regarding the clues.

The portrait is currently being displayed in Abbey Walk Gallery, Grimsby, UK, until September 3. If authenticated, the Cruickshanks say the drawing (seen below) could be worth millions.

I have been going through the characters referenced in Woody Allen’s latest film “Midnight in Paris.” I only have a few characters left. Today is Vincent van Gogh who actually is not mentioned but his painting “The Starry Night” is featured in the poster to promote the movie.

The Starry Night

Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890)

Saint Rémy, June 1889. Oil on canvas, 29 x 36 1/4″ (73.7 x 92.1 cm). Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest

Vincent van Gogh. The Starry Night. Saint Rémy, June 1889

Van Gogh Brings Color to Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’ Poster

March 17, 2011
Source: Yahoo
by Alex Billington

Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris

While I’ve been covering Woody Allen films these last few years, I haven’t been that impressed by any of the posters. His last film, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, had a rather boring poster and Whatever Works’ was bland, too. Now we finally have a poster that is at least colorful, though it borrows from the brilliance of another artist. Yahoo has debuted the poster for Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, his new rom-com with a cast of: Owen Wilson, seen strolling the streets below, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody and Léa Seydoux. And if you don’t know, that’s Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night they’re using.

Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris Poster

Midnight in Paris is a wonderful love letter to Paris“, declared Festival director Thierry Frémaux in the press release. “It’s a film in which Woody Allen takes a deeper look at the issues raised in his last films: our relationship with history, art, pleasure and life. His 41st feature reveals once again his inspiration.” You may also remember it was officially announcedthat Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris will be the opening film of the upcoming 64th Cannes Film Festival this summer. As always, I’m not sure what to expect with every new Woody Allen movie, but at least they’re starting off quite well.

Review: Midnight in Paris

Notre Dame. Montmatre. Sacre Coeur. It would be unfair to say that the streets of Paris serve as a backdrop for Woody Allen’s latest romantic comedy Midnight in Paris. Rather, the city itself takes center stage, playing the role of life-changer to Owen Wilson’s neurotic screenwriter/novelist/lovable doofus/youthful Woody Allen-substitute. Paris walks into the protagonist’s life, overwhelms the screen, and tricks the audience into believing that Midnight in Paris is Woody Allen’s return to his 1970s heyday (it’s not). Nevertheless, I’ll be the first to admit that I am more than happy to be tricked by Allen’s magical characterization of the City of Lights in Midnight in Paris.

Early on in the film, Owen Wilson’s character Gil and his fiance Inez (played by Rachel McAdams) visit the Versailles Palace on a sunny afternoon. They are accompanied by Inez’s former professor Paul (Michael Sheen) and his girlfriend Wendy (Mimi Kennedy). Inez flirts with Paul, who pedantically serves as unofficial tour guide. It’s all so familiar to Allen fans. Meanwhile, Gil, a successful screenwriter working unsuccessfully on his first novel, takes in the palace with a warm sentimentality that drives the film through the heart of Paris marked by nostalgia and the romantic past.

The same adulterous entanglements that occupy much of Allen’s filmography are at work here, and McAdams’ Inez is the “obnoxious shrew” at her worst (and I don’t mean that in a complimentary, Penelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelonakind of way). Paris’s female actors struggle with their surface-only, flat characters, and the adultery is worthy of an eye roll among tired audiences.

Shortly after the scene at Versailles, Midnight in Paris picks up the pace when Gil finds himself wandering the Parisian streets at midnight. He whimsically joins a friendly party in their vintage car and soon discovers that he is now in 1920s Jazz Age Paris, carousing with artists and expatriates including Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, and Salvidor Dali. In the wrong hands, such a scenario would never have worked, but Allen lets the campy atmosphere simmer and the absurdity never seems unreasonable. Gil takes the advice of his new friends and revisits the problematic novel he’s been working on. The more Allen pushes the boundaries into 1920s Paris, the more enchanting and endearing Midnight in Paris becomes.

Despite grating flaws in the female characters and a frustratingly contrived ending, all is forgiven for Midnight in Paris due to its nostalgic energy and the overwhelming charm of the main character—the city of Paris. Allen has proved time and again that he thrives in character studies about tourists in his favorite cities, and it’s safe to assume that he truly loves Paris.

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Vincent van Gogh Biography

Vincent van Gogh (March 30, 1853 – July 29, 1890) is generally considered the greatest Dutch painter after Rembrandt, though he had little success during his lifetime. Van Gogh produced all of his work (some 900 paintings and 1100 drawings) during a period of only 10 years before he succumbed to mental illness (possibly bipolar disorder) and committed suicide. His fame grew rapidly after his death especially following a showing of 71 of van Gogh’s paintings in Paris on March 17, 1901 (11 years after his death).

(Properly the name rhymes with loch, but it is also pronounced ‘goph’, ‘go’ and ‘goe’.)

Van Gogh’s influence on expressionism, fauvism and early abstraction was enormous, and can be seen in many other aspects of 20th-century art. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is dedicated to Van Gogh’s work and that of his contemporaries.

Several paintings by Van Gogh rank among the most expensive paintings in the world. On March 30, 1987 Van Gogh’s painting Irises was sold for a record $53.9 million at Southeby’s, New York. On May 15, 1990 his Portrait of Doctor Gachet was sold for $82.5 million at Christie’s, thus establishing a new price record (see also List of most expensive paintings).

Life and Work

Vincent was born in Zundert, The Netherlands; his father was a protestant minister, a profession that Vincent found appealing and to which he would be drawn to a certain extent later in his life. His sister described him as a serious and introspective child.

Vincent van Gogh Grave

At age 16 Vincent started to work for the art dealer Goupil & Co. in The Hague. His four years younger brother Theo, with whom Vincent cherished a life long friendship, would join the company later. This friendship is amply documented in a vast amount of letters they sent each other. These letters have been preserved and were published in 1914. They provide a lot of insight into the life of the painter, and show him to be a talented writer with a keen mind. Theo would support Vincent financially throughout his life.

In 1873, his firm transferred him to London, then to Paris. He became increasingly interested in religion; in 1876 Goupil dismissed him for lack of motivation. He became a teaching assistant in Ramsgate near London, then returned to Amsterdam to study theology in 1877.

After dropping out in 1878, he became a layman preacher in Belgium in a poor mining region known as the Borinage. He even preached down in the mines and was extremely concerned with the lot of the workers. He was dismissed after 6 months and continued without pay. During this period he started to produce charcoal sketches.

In 1880, Vincent van Gogh followed the suggestion of his brother Theo and took up painting in earnest. For a brief period Vincent took painting lessons from Anton Mauve at The Hague. Although Vicent and Anton soon split over divergence of artistic views, influences of the Hague School of painting would remain in Vincents work, notably in the way he played with light and in the looseness of his brush strokes. However his usage of colours, favouring dark tones, set him apart from his teacher.

In 1881 he declared his love to his widowed cousin Kee Vos, who rejected him. Later he would move in with the prostitute Sien Hoornik and her children and considered marrying her; his father was strictly against this relationship and even his brother Theo advised against it. They later separated.

Impressed and influenced by Jean-Francois Millet, van Gogh focussed on painting peasants and rural scenes. He moved to the Dutch province Drenthe, later to Nuenen, North Brabant, also in The Netherlands. Here he painted in 1885.

In the winter of 1885-1886 Van Gogh attended the art academy of Antwerp, Belgium. This proved a disappointment as he was dismissed after a few months by his Professor. Van Gogh did however get in touch with Japanese art during this period, which he started to collect eagerly. He admired its bright colors, use of canvas space and the role lines played in the picture. These impressions would influence him strongly. Van Gogh made some painting in Japanese style. Also some of the portraits he painted are set against a background which shows Japanese art.

In spring 1886 Vincent van Gogh went to Paris, where he moved in with his brother Theo; they shared a house on Montmartre. Here he met the painters met Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Bernard, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Paul Gauguin. He discovered impressionism and liked its use of light and color, more than its lack of social engagement (as he saw it). Especially the technique known as pointillism (where many small dots are applied to the canvas that blend into rich colors only in the eye of the beholder, seeing it from a distance) made its mark on Van Goghs own style. It should be noted that Van Gogh is regarded as a post-impressionist, rather than an impressionist.

In 1888, when city life and living with his brothers proved too much, Van Gogh left Paris and went to Arles, Bouches-du-Rh, France. He was impressed with the local landscape and hoped to found an art colony. He decorated a “yellow house” and created a celebrated series of yellow sunflower paintings for this purpose. Only Paul Gauguin, whose simplified colour schemes and forms (known as synthetism) attracted van Gogh, followed his invitation. The admiration was mutual, and Gauguin painted van Gogh painting sunflowers. However their encounter ended in a quarrel. Van Gogh suffered a mental breakdown and cut off part of his left ear, which he gave to a startled prostitute friend. Gauguin left in December 1888.

The only painting he sold during his lifetime, The Red Vineyard, was created in 1888. It is now on display in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, Russia.

Vincent van Gogh now exchanged painting dots for small stripes. He suffered from depression, and in 1889 on his own request Van Gogh was admitted to the psychiatric center at Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole in Saint Remy de Provence, Bouches-du-Rh, France. During his stay here the clinic and its garden became his main subject. Pencil strokes changed again, now into spiral curves.

In May 1890 Vincent van Gogh left the clinic and went to the physician Paul Gachet, in Auvers-sur-Oise near Paris, where he was closer to his brother Theo, who had recently married. Gachet had been recommended to him by Pissarro; he had treated several artists before. Here van Gogh created his only etching: a portrait of the melancholic doctor Gachet. His depression aggravated. On July 27 of the same year, at the age of 37, after a fit of painting activity, van Gogh shot himself in the chest. He died two days later, with Theo at his side, who reported his last words as “La tristesse durera toujours” (French: “The sadness will last forever”). He was buried at the cemetery of Auvers-sur-Oise; Theo unable to come to terms with his brother’s death died 6 months later and was buried next to him. It would not take long before his fame grew higher and higher. Large exhibitions were organized soon: Paris 1901, Amsterdam 1905, Cologne 1912, New York 1913 and Berlin 1914.

Vincent van Gogh’s mother threw away quite a number of his paintings during Vincent’s life and even after his death.  But she would live long enough to see her son become a world famous painter.

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How Should We Then Live 8#1

The above clip is from the film series by Francis Schaeffer “How should we then live?” Below is an outline of the 8th episode on the Impressionists and the age of Fragmentation. Vincent van Gogh was a post-impressionist and he is mentioned in this film series by Schaeffer

AGE OF FRAGMENTATION

I. Art As a Vehicle Of Modern Thought

A. Impressionism (Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Degas) and Post-Impressionism (Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Seurat): appearance and reality.

1. Problem of reality in Impressionism: no universal.

2. Post-Impression seeks the universal behind appearances.

3. Painting expresses an idea in its own terms as a work of art; to discuss the idea in a painting is not to intellectualize art.

4. Parallel search for universal in art and philosophy; Cézanne.

B. Fragmentation.

1. Extremes of ultra-naturalism or abstraction: Wassily Kandinsky.

2. Picasso leads choice for abstraction: relevance of this choice.

3. Failure of Picasso (like Sartre, and for similar reasons) to be fully consistent with his choice.

C. Retreat to absurdity.

1. Dada , and Marcel Duchamp: art as absurd. (Dada gave birth to Surrealism).

2. Art followed philosophy but came sooner to logical end.

3. Chance in his art technique as an art theory impossible to practice: Pollock.

How Should We Then Live 8#2

II. Music As a Vehicle of Modern Thought

A. Non-resolution and fragmentation: German and French streams.

1. Influence of Beethoven’s last Quartets.

2. Direction and influence of Debussy.

3. Schoenberg’s non-resolution; contrast with Bach.

4. Stockhausen: electronic music and concern with the element of change.

B. Cage: a case study in confusion.

1. Deliberate chance and confusion in Cage’s music.

2. Cage’s inability to live the philosophy of his music.

C. Contrast of music-by-chance and the world around us.

1. Inconsistency of indulging in expression of chaos when we acknowledge order for practical matters like airplane design.

2. Art as anti-art when it is mere intellectual statement, divorced from reality of who people are and the fullness of what the universe is.

III. General Culture As the Vehicle of Modern Thought

A. Propagation of idea of fragmentation in literature.

1. Effect of Eliot’s Wasteland and Picasso’s Demoiselles d’ Avignon

compared; the drift of general culture.

2. Eliot’s change in his form of writing when he became a Christian.

3. Philosophic popularization by novel: Sartre, Camus, de Beauvoir.

B. Cinema as advanced medium of philosophy.

1. Cinema in the 1960s used to express Man’s destruction: e.g. Blow-up.

2. Cinema and the leap into fantasy:

 How Should We Then Live 8#3

The Hour of the WolfBelle de JourJuliet of the Spirits,

The Last Year at Marienbad.

3. Bergman’s inability to live out his philosophy (see Cage):

Silence and The Hour of the Wolf.

IV. Only on Christian Base Can Reality Be Faced Squarely

Part 4 of Tribute to and interview of Rev. Dr. John R. W. Stott (April 27, 1921 – July 27, 2011)

john stott 2007 Keswick

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Uploaded by  on Aug 6, 2010

John Stott discussing how he would like to be remembered. This clip, and 5 others (found on LICC’s YouTube page), have been posted in memory of LICC’s founder John Stott, who passed away on 27th July 2011 aged 90. Visit the full tribute to John at http://www.licc.org.uk/tribute. The clips are all taken from 25 & On, a celebration DVD of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity’s 25th Anniversary. The full interview is available from LICC on CD (www.licc.org.uk/shop/product/25-on).

Back in the 1970’s I read the book “Basic Christianity” by John Stott. While in London in 1979 I had the opportunity to attend a Tuesday evening prayer meeting where there were about 40 people and I got to hear John Stott speak. I was so thrilled to get to hear him speak in person.

I have included several clips on him because I wanted to honor him after the wonderful godly 90 years he lived.

Uploaded by  on Aug 19, 2008

John Stott’s classic book has introduced generations to Christianity with wisdom and clarity. This video celebrates the 50th Anniversary Edition of this important book by one of the world’s most important Christian voices.

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[The

John Stott Funeral (edited version)

Uploaded by  on Aug 11, 2011

John Stott died on 27 July 2011 aged 90 years. This video contains highlights of his Funeral at All Souls Langham Place in London on Monday 8 August 2011. Produced and displayed with permission from John Stott’s family.
Music clips used by permission of All Souls musicians and Jubilate Hymns (www.jubilate.co.uk)

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Al Molher interviewed John Stott several years ago and here is a portion of that interview:

The funeral for John R. W. Stott, one of the most famous evangelical preachers of the last century, will be held today in London at All Souls Church, Langham Place, where he served with distinction for so many decades of ministry. In honor of John Stott, I here republish an interview I conducted with the great preacher in 1987. The interview was first published in Preaching magazine, for which I was then Associate Editor.]

John R. W. Stott has emerged in the last half of the twentieth century as one of the leading evangelical preachers in the world. His ministry has spanned decades and continents, combining his missionary zeal with the timeless message of the Gospel.

For many years the Rector of All Souls Church, Langham Place, in London, Stott is also the founder and director of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. His preaching ministry stands as a model of the effective communication of biblical truth to secular men and women

The author of several worthy books, Stott is perhaps best known in the United States through his involvement with the URBANA conferences. His voice and pen have been among the most determinative forces in the development of the contemporary evangelical movement in the Church of England and throughout the world.

Preaching Associate Editor R. Albert Mohler interviewed Stott during one of the British preacher’s frequent visits to the United States.

We Belong in a Study, Not an Office

Mohler: You are probably as well known in America as in England. Furthermore, you know America — its churches and its preachers. What would be your word to the Servants of the Word on this side of the Atlantic?

Stott: I think my main word to American preachers is, as Stephen Olford has often said, that we belong in a study, not in an office. The symbol of our ministry is a Bible — not a telephone. We are ministers of the Word, not administrators, and we need to relearn the question of priority in every generation.

The Apostles were in danger of being diverted from the ministry to which they had been called by Jesus — the ministry of Word and prayer. They were almost diverted into a social ministry for squabbling widows.

Now both are important, and both are ministries, but the Apostles had been called to the ministry of the Word and not the ministry of tables. They had to delegate the ministry of the tables to other servants. We are not Apostles, but there is the work of teaching that has come to us in the unfolding of the apostolic message of the New Testament. This is our priority as pastors and preachers.

Jesus preached to the crowds, to the group, and to the individual. He had the masses, the disciples, and individuals coming to Him. He preached to crowds, taught the disciples, and counseled individuals. We must also have this focus. It is all in the ministry of the Word.


I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me at mail@albertmohler.com. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AlbertMohler

This interview is republished by the kind permission of Preaching magazine, Dr. Michael Duduit, editor. See http://www.preaching.com

Brantley and Brummett: Government needs to stimulate economy

John Brummett in his article, “More stimulus? Seriously?,” Arkansas News Review, August 29, 2011, observed:

The general point, though, is simple yet profound: We are in a self-perpetuating fix of serious proportion, and when you have only one tool in the box that might work, you need to figure out how best to use it.

Max Brantley on Arkansas Week in Review on August 26, 2011 said that he agreed with Paul Krugman that we don’t need to cut back on government spending now because the economy needs to be stimulated.

Brantley and Brummett will continue to say that the first stimulus did not work because it did not have enough money, but the private sector will have to get us out of this recession not inefficient government. Over and over you hear about political leaders saying that we must spend our way out of this recession, but that does not work. Below is an excellent article on this:

Is Obama Really Going to Propose Another Keynesian Stimulus?

Posted by Daniel J. Mitchell

Just last week, I made fun of Paul Krugman after he publicly said that a fake threat from invading aliens would be good for the economy since the earth would waste a bunch of money on pointless defense outlays.

Yesterday, there were rumors that Krugman stated that it would have been stimulative if the earthquake had been stronger and done more damage, but he exposed this as a prank(though it is understandable that many people — including me, I’m embarrassed to admit — initially assumed it was true since he did write that the 9-11 terrorist attacks boosted growth).

 But while Krugman is owed an apology by whoever pulled that stunt, the real problem is that President Obama and his advisers actually take Keynesian alchemy seriously.

And since President Obama is promising to unveil another “jobs plan” after his vacation, that almost certainly means more faux stimulus.

We don’t know what will be in this new package, but there are rumors of an infrastructure bank, which doubtlessly would be a subsidy for state and local governments. The only thing “shovel ready” about this proposal is that tax dollars will be shoveled to interest groups.

The other idea that seems to have traction is extending the current payroll tax holiday, which lowers the “employee share” of the payroll tax from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent. The good news is that the tax holiday doesn’t increase the burden of government spending. The bad news is that temporary tax rate reductions probably have very little positive effect on economic output.

Lower tax rates are the right approach, to be sure (particularly compared to useless rebates, such as those pushed by the Bush White House in 2001 and 2008), but workers, investors, and entrepreneurs are unlikely to be strongly incentivized by something that might be seen as a one-year gimmick. Though I suppose if the holiday keeps getting extended, people may begin to think it is a semi-durable feature of the tax code, so maybe there will be some pro-growth impact.

In any event, we will see what the President unveils next month. I’ll be particularly interested in how his supposed short-run jobs proposal fits in with his long-run plan for dealing with red ink. He has been advocating for a “balanced approach” and “shared sacrifice” – but that’sObama-speak for higher taxes, and we know that’s a damper on job creation and new investment.

As you can tell, I’m not optimistic. The best thing for growth would be to get the government out of the way. The Obama White House, though, thinks bigger government is good for the economy.

This stimulus video was produced last year and was designed for another jobs plan concocted by the Administration, but the message is still very appropriate.

Daniel J. Mitchell • August 24, 2011 @ 10:44 am
Filed under: GeneralGovernment and PoliticsTax and Budget Policy