19 Jun 2016

Matthew Henry on Exodus 1

Religious 1 Comment

From Matthew Henry’s Full commentary, on Exodus chapter 1. We were covering this tonight during my Bible study session, and I thought the analysis was very insightful. Sometimes it’s easier to see the obvious (and evil) motives of political rulers, when it’s ancient history.

(Note that because the excerpt is so big, I won’t change the formatting.)

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III. The method they took to suppress them, and check their growth, v. 11, 13, 14. The Israelites behaved themselves so peaceably and inoffensively that they could not find any occasion of making war upon them, and weakening them by that means: and therefore, 1. They took care to keep them poor, by charging them with heavy taxes, which, some think, is included in the burdens with which they afflicted them. 2. By this means they took an effectual course to make them slaves. The Israelites, it should seem, were much more industrious laborious people than the Egyptians, and therefore Pharaoh took care to find them work, both in building (they built him treasure-cities), and in husbandry, even all manner of service in the field: and this was exacted from them with the utmost rigour and severity. Here are many expressions used, to affect us with the condition of God’s people. They had taskmasters set over them, who were directed, not only to burden them, but, as much as might be, to afflict them with their burdens, and contrive how to make them grievous. They not only made them serve, which was sufficient for Pharaoh’s profit, but they made them serve with rigour, so that their lives became bitter to them, intending hereby, (1.) To break their spirits, and rob them of every thing in them that was ingenuous and generous. (2.) To ruin their health and shorten their days, and so diminish their numbers. (3.) To discourage them from marrying, since their children would be born to slavery. (4.) To oblige them to desert the Hebrews, and incorporate themselves with the Egyptians. Thus he hoped to cut off the name of Israel, that it might be no more in remembrance. And it is to be feared that the oppression they were under had this bad effect upon them, that it brought over many of them to join with the Egyptians in their idolatrous worship; for we read (Jos. 24:14) that they served other gods in Egypt; and, though it is not mentioned here in this history, yet we find (Eze. 20:8) that God had threatened to destroy them for it, even while they were in the land of Egypt: however, they were kept a distinct body, unmingled with the Egyptians, and by their other customs separated from them, which was the Lord’s doing, and marvellous.

I. The midwives were commanded to murder them. Observe, 1. The orders given them, v. 15, 16. It added much to the barbarity of the intended executions that the midwives were appointed to be the executioners; for it was to make them, not only bloody, but perfidious, and to oblige them to betray a trust, and to destroy those whom they undertook to save and help. Could he think that their sex would admit such cruelty, and their employment such base treachery? Note, Those who are themselves barbarous think to find, or make, others as barbarous. Pharaoh’s project was secretly to engage the midwives to stifle the men-children as soon as they were born, and then to lay it upon the difficulty of the birth, or some mischance common in that case, Job 3:11. The two midwives he tampered with in order hereunto are here named; and perhaps, at this time, which was above eighty years before their going out of Egypt, those two might suffice for all the Hebrew women, at least so many of them as lay near the court, as it is plain by ch. 2:5, 6, many of them did, and of them he was most jealous. They are called Hebrew midwives, probably not because they were themselves Hebrews (for surely Pharaoh could never expect they should be so barbarous to those of their own nation), but because they were generally made use of by the Hebrews; and, being Egyptians, he hoped to prevail with them. 2. Their pious disobedience to this impious command, v. 17. They feared God, regarded his law, and dreaded his wrath more than Pharaoh’s and therefore saved the men-children alive. Note, If men’s commands be any way contrary to the commands of God, we must obey God and not man, Acts 4:19; v. 29. No power on earth can warrant us, much less oblige us, to sin against God, our chief Lord. Again, Where the fear of God rules in the heart, it will preserve it from the snare which the inordinate fear of man brings.

18 Jun 2016

Engelhardt Reviews *Choice*

*Choice*, Shameless Self-Promotion No Comments

Lucas writes a very nice review of my book in the latest QJAE.

If you want to learn more about (or order) the book, go here.

17 Jun 2016

Murphy Review of Sumner

Scott Sumner, Shameless Self-Promotion 23 Comments

My review of Scott’s book, The Midas Paradox, in the latest QJAE.

17 Jun 2016

Debate Starting Shortly

All Posts 14 Comments

I’m debating Vox Day on free trade, moderated by Tom Woods. We start at 7:30pm Eastern. Details here. Tom is also going to run this on his show at some point.

17 Jun 2016

Calling Krugman’s Bluff on Trump and the Fate of the Planet

Krugman, Shameless Self-Promotion 14 Comments

My latest at IER highlights one of the more absurd columns Krugman has ever written. He actually argued that if Hillary Clinton doesn’t win, then the planet is doomed. My conclusion:

IER founder Rob Bradley had a great observation when he compared alarmist climate change rhetoric to a high-pressure sales tactic. The manipulative salesperson doesn’t want the mark to have time to think logically about the purchase, but instead wants to create a sense of urgency and thus relies on emotional appeals.

We see such high-pressure sales techniques in Krugman’s NYT column. He clearly is “selling” Hillary Clinton for president, and will grab any emotional ploy he can to seal the deal. He has no problem telling readers that if they don’t vote for Clinton, they are helping to destroy the planet itself. The fact that such a claim is not remotely defensible using the IPCC’s own reports, just shows how little concern Krugman actually has for the integrity of the climate change debate. If Krugman doesn’t let the IPCC reports influence his writings on climate change, why should anyone on the Right take him seriously when he lectures them on “denying” the consensus?

I know I have some defenders of Krugman and/or urgent action on climate change here: So by all means, I’m curious to see you defend this particular column from him. Sad!

17 Jun 2016

Krugman Misleading on Hillary Clinton Email Scandal

Contra Krugman 7 Comments

This is an “explainer” post for our loyal Contra Krugman fans. On Episode 40 (which we just recorded but it hasn’t been posted yet), I referred to this Krugman blog post. My point is that Krugman made it sound like he had independent evidence that the outrage over Hillary Clinton’s private email scandal was a faux Republican invention, when in fact (I claimed) the actual news story showed just the opposite.

So here is how Krugman handled it in his post:

The Clinton email “scandal” goes on — still no sign that she broke any rules, no sign that she sent or received anything labeled “classified”, but she may have received and even forwarded items that were later classified or “should” have been classified. By normal human standards this is a big nothing; but Clinton Rules apply, under which malign behavior is the default assumption and where there’s smoke there must be fire even if everyone knows that the usual suspects are operating big smoke machines.

OK, so clearly you get the impression that the “latest news” shows that we are still waiting for a single shred of evidence that Clinton did something wrong, right? Now if you follow the link on the phrase “goes on,” it takes you to this Talking Points Memo piece.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. Even if you just read the TPM piece, you already would see that Krugman is wrong. The TPM piece is saying that a Reuters analysis has found that even though Team Clinton is claiming she never sent anything that was marked classified, that at least some of the emails in question should have AUTOMATICALLY been classified because of their nature (and that this is a big deal–a breaking of the rules pertaining to someone in her position).

And if you’re really into being objective–so that you go and click the Reuters link, rather than trusting the summaries by TPM and Paul Krugman–you would see stuff like this:

In the small fraction of emails made public so far, Reuters has found at least 30 email threads from 2009, representing scores of individual emails, that include what the State Department’s own “Classified” stamps now identify as so-called ‘foreign government information.’ The U.S. government defines this as any information, written or spoken, provided in confidence to U.S. officials by their foreign counterparts.

This sort of information, which the department says Clinton both sent and received in her emails, is the only kind that must be “presumed” classified, in part to protect national security and the integrity of diplomatic interactions, according to U.S. regulations examined by Reuters.

“It’s born classified,” said J. William Leonard, a former director of the U.S. government’s Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). Leonard was director of ISOO, part of the National Archives and Records Administration, from 2002 until 2008, and worked for both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

“If a foreign minister just told the secretary of state something in confidence, by U.S. rules that is classified at the moment it’s in U.S. channels and U.S. possession,” he said in a telephone interview, adding that for the State Department to say otherwise was “blowing smoke.”

So in Krugman’s world, a Reuters report quoting a former director of the government’s Information Security Oversight Office, who worked for the Bill Clinton administration, saying that the State Department is obfuscating and that Hillary Clinton clearly broke rules that were in force at that time…is to be summarized as: “still no sign that she broke any rules.”

By the same logic, there is “still no sign” that Donald Trump did anything wrong with respect to Trump U, because after all Donald Trump himself, and the people around him, keep insisting that they did nothing wrong.

16 Jun 2016

People Blogging About Trump

Trump 18 Comments

I thought these were all interesting observations. STANDARD DISCLAIMER WHENEVER I BLOG ABOUT TRUMP: I do not like the guy, I am not voting for him (or anyone else). But much of the commentary about him has been nonsensical, and the followings bloggers (like me) don’t like the guy either, but are pointing out oddities in the commentary.

==> Scott Adams (the Dilbert guy) writes a kinda-sorta defense of Trump that admittedly could apply to just about anyone, but still–I thought this was profound:

What exactly is the risk of a Trump presidency? Beats me. But let’s talk about it anyway.

Your Abysmal Track Record

For starters, ask yourself how well you predicted the performance of past presidents. Have your psychic powers been accurate?

I’m not good at predicting the performance of presidents. I thought Reagan would be dangerous, but he presided over the end of the Cold War. And I thought George W. Bush would be unlikely to start a war, much less two of them.

And how about your ability to predict the future of your own relationships? Most relationships end badly, so we know that the majority of Americans are not good at predicting the future. Have all of your relationships worked out the way you expected? Mine haven’t.

==> I am pleasantly surprised by how “conspiracy theorist” (though he explains in the post that his view does not rest on any closed-door meeting or secret memo) Gene Callahan has become lately:

When Howard Dean’s candidacy was sabotaged by the spread of the “Dean is crazy” meme, I began to recognize that although America ostensibly has two political parties, the goal of our elites is to make sure that each party runs a presidential candidate acceptable to them. Sure, the two parties are not identical, and there is plenty of room for disagreement so long as that disagreement is not on issues important to our elite class:

1) globalism and the gradual destruction of nation-states (so that trans-national corporations gain power);
2) continual low-level warfare around the world (so military contractors make more and more money); and
3) continued macroeconomic turbulence (so top investment banks become richer and richer).

When a candidate who is not “on board” on these issues seems to be a threat, there are certain standard ways to deal with him or her. They involve spreading the memes that:

1) that candidate is a racist;
2) that candidate is crazy; and
3) that candidate is dangerous.

==> And finally, Steve Landsburg put his finger on what has been bothering me about the recent outrage over “OMG Trump is so racist for saying the ‘Mexican’ judge is biased against him!!”

(I’m going to make the point a little differently from how Steve made it.) First of all, I’ve seen National Review-type guys pretending to be outraged that Trump called the judge Mexican, when the judge is American, you big racist jerk!! OK, this is ridiculous. If I say Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant, am I making a claim about geography? If someone says to me, “Murphy, that’s Irish right?” I’m not going to go ballistic.

Second, and more relevant: If you think it’s racist for Trump to argue that a judge of Mexican heritage might retaliate against Trump for his provocative views on illegal immigration, then you also would have a problem if a Republican strategist said the GOP was shooting itself in the foot for nominating Trump, since “Women and Hispanic voters do not appreciate his insulting remarks.”

Right? I’m assuming every single person who said Trump’s comments about the judge were racist, also condemned every political analyst who said Trump’s remarks alienate women and minorities, right?

Now of course, really what’s going on is that Trump has said things that are arguably racist, and so his critics don’t mind throwing the term around even when it doesn’t make sense. But still, if you want that term to retain any moral force, you can’t use it when it doesn’t make sense.

Last thing: For people who sincerely fear a Trump presidency as being qualitatively more dangerous than a Clinton (or Romney or Obama) presidency, let me point something out. The kind of person who is planning on voting for Trump, is certainly NOT going to change his or her mind when you loudly call him a racist, especially in a situation where the term doesn’t even make sense. You are truly hurting your own cause by doing that. To repeat something I’ve said for months now: In the beginning, I strongly disliked Trump and was amazed/appalled at the stuff he was saying. But after seeing self-righteous condemnations from people I knew didn’t actually deploy those same criteria (with which they denounced Trump) in previous elections, I started sympathizing with him. (Note, sympathize is not the same as support.)

15 Jun 2016

Free Trade Debate

Tom Woods, Trade No Comments

This Friday I’m having an online debate on free trade with Vox Day, hosted by Tom Woods. You can register to watch it live here.