Thursday, July 14, 2011

Weltbuergertum (World citizenship)

I remember reading about Weltbuergertum about 50 years ago in something or other by Hendrik van Loon. It struck me as a high ideal and a good idea at the time (in my teens).

The fact that Van Loon used the German term Weltbuergertum for the concept was unremarkable to me at the time as I already had a useful command of German by then but on thinking about it in more recent times it seemed obvious that the idea must go back to those two second-rate German philosphers, Karl Mark and his mentor, GWF Hegel. And in Mein Kampf Hitler also describes himself as originally being a Weltbuerger -- though he changed his tune on that later, of course

On checking, however, I found that the idea actually goes further back again -- to the classical German poet JW von Goethe. So the idea obviously has some simplistic appeal and now seems to be standard Leftist gospel. To the Left of today, patriotism is absurd and contemptible. Democrat politicians have to pretend otherwise in a country as patriotic as the USA but elsewhere on the Left -- particularly in the educational system -- Weltbuergertum is the only respectable stance, though not usually by that name

And as a means of avoiding war etc., the idea does have some appeal. Where it falls down, however, is in the composition of the world as we actually have it. Do I want to be a citizen of a polity that includes the corrupt and bloodthirsty tyrannies of Africa, the negligible civil liberties of China or the starvation of North Korea -- not to mention the corruption and hate of the Arab world?

I can quite cheerfully imagine myself as a citizen of a polity that comprised all the English-speaking democracies but until the rest of the world reaches that standard of civility and respect for the individual, leave me out of it

Walter Williams has some good comments on the matter below -- JR
The National Assessment of Educational Progress reports that only 1 in 4 high-school seniors scored at least "proficient" in knowledge of U.S. citizenship. Civics and history were American students' worst subjects. Professor Damon said that for the past 10 years, his Stanford University research team has interviewed broad cross sections of American youths about U.S. citizenship. Here are some typical responses: "We just had (American citizenship) the other day in history. I forget what it was." Another said, "Being American is not really special. ... I don't find being an American citizen very important." Another said, "I don't want to belong to any country. It just feels like you are obligated to this country. I don't like the whole thing of citizen. ... It's like, citizen, no citizen; it doesn't make sense to me. It's, like, to be a good citizen -- I don't know, I don't want to be a citizen. ... It's stupid to me."

A law professor, whom Damon leaves unnamed, shares this vision in a recent book: "Longstanding notions of democratic citizenship are becoming obsolete. ... American identity is unsustainable in the face of globalization." Instead of commitment to a nation-state, "loyalties ... are moving to transnational communities defined by many different ways: by race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, and sexual orientation." This law professor's vision is shared by many educators who look to "global citizenship" as the proper aim of civics instruction, de-emphasizing attachment to any particular country, such as the United States, pointing out that our primary obligation should be to the universal ideals of human rights and justice. To be patriotic to one's own country is seen as suspect because it may turn into a militant chauvinism or a dangerous "my country, right or wrong" vision.

The ignorance about our country is staggering. According to one survey, only 28 percent of students could identify the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. Only 26 percent of students knew that the first 10 amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights. Fewer than one-quarter of students knew that George Washington was the first president of the United States.

Discouraging young Americans from identifying with their country and celebrating our traditional American quest for liberty and equal rights removes the most powerful motivation to learn civics and U.S. history. After all, Damon asks, "why would a student exert any effort to master the rules of a system that the student has no respect for and no interest in being part of? To acquire civic knowledge as well as civic virtue, students need to care about their country."

Ignorance and possibly contempt for American values, civics and history might help explain how someone like Barack Obama could become president of the United States. At no other time in our history could a person with longtime associations with people who hate our country become president. Obama spent 20 years attending the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's hate-filled sermons, which preached that "white folks' greed runs a world in need," called our country the "US of KKK-A" and asked God to "damn America." Obama's other America-hating associates include Weather Underground Pentagon bomber William Ayers and Ayers' wife, Bernardine Dohrn.

The fact that Obama became president and brought openly Marxist people into his administration doesn't say so much about him as it says about the effects of decades of brainwashing of the American people by the education establishment, media and the intellectual elite.



The First Rule of Liberalism: Government failure always justifies more government

Remember the "stimulus," or, as it was officially titled, the Recovery Act of 2009? It was President Obama's first major legislative initiative, enacted the month after he took office with only Democratic votes in the House and just three Republicans in the Senate (one of whom was a Democrat by that summer). The price tag was huge, some $800 billion, or 50 times the size (in nominal terms) of the stimulus Bill Clinton proposed at the outset of his presidency. Congress killed the $16 billion Clinton stimulus because it was too expensive.

Unemployment that January was 7.6%, and Obama's economic advisers warned that it could rise as high as 8% without the stimulus. With the stimulus, it rose as high as 10.2% in October 2009. Last month's rate was 9.2%, still 1.2 points higher than the level the stimulus was supposed to prevent us from ever reaching. By contrast, in January 1993 unemployment was 7.3%. Without the Clinton stimulus, it had declined to 6.5% by the end of that year.

Oh well, at least school janitors in Nebraska have "diversity manuals," as the Omaha World-Herald reports:
The Omaha Public Schools used more than $130,000 in federal stimulus dollars to buy each teacher, administrator and staff member a manual on how to become more culturally sensitive. . . .

The authors assert that American government and institutions create advantages that "channel wealth and power to white people," that color-blindness will not end racism and that educators should "take action for social justice."

The book says that teachers should acknowledge historical systemic oppression in schools, including racism, sexism, homophobia and "ableism," defined by the authors as discrimination or prejudice against people with disabilities. . . .

The Omaha school board approved buying 8,000 copies of the book--one for every employee, including members of the custodial staff--in April.

Your tax dollars at work! Or rather, your tax dollars will be at work for years paying the interest on the money the federal government borrowed from the Chinese to pay Omaha's diversity-manual bill.

Now, one might reasonably object that this is but an anecdote. The law of averages makes it a certainty that some of the stimulus money found its way to less utterly appalling uses than this one. What it didn't do, however, was accomplish its stated objective: keeping unemployment from rising above 8%.

Here is how Obama, in a press conference this morning, described this failure: "We took very aggressive steps when I first came into office to yank the economy out of a potential Great Depression and stabilize it. And we were largely successful in stabilizing it. But we stabilized it at a level where unemployment is still too high and the economy is not growing fast enough to make up for all the jobs that were lost before I took office and the few months after I took office."

And Yasser Arafat is in stable condition.

One school of thought is that the so-called stimulus failed because it was, as former Enron adviser Paul Krugman puts it, "woefully inadequate." This is the economic analogue of the Kagan Principle, which liberal Supreme Court justices would use to limit freedom of speech: The more stubbornly corrupt the government is, the more justified it is in curtailing fundamental liberties in the name of preventing corruption.

It's a common refrain among those who lust to increase government's size and power: Every failed measure justifies more of the same. Poverty programs make it harder to escape poverty? We need more poverty programs! Racial preferences heighten racial division? We need more racial preferences! And a diversity manual for every janitor in the country! When ObamaCare ends up driving the costs of medicine up and the quality and availability down, you can bet the people who created that monstrosity will claim it failed only because it didn't go far enough.

Let's generalize this into the First Rule of Liberalism: Government failure always justifies more government. As Obama said today, complaining about Republican pressure to cut spending: "I'd rather be talking about stuff that everybody welcomes--like new programs." Fortunately for the country, the voters don't always agree.



Government by secretive and unaccountable bureaucrats?

Even some Donks are not happy at going that far down the Soviet road

A rising chorus of repeal-mongers, outraged at the Obama administration's federal health care power grab, took over Washington this week. Nope, it's not the tea party. It's Democrats Against the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Yes, Democrats. What's IPAB? A Beltway acronym for subverting the deliberative process.

The 15-member panel of government-appointed bureaucrats was slipped into Section 3403 of the Obamacare law against the objection of more than 100 House members on both sides of the aisle. IPAB's experts would wield unprecedented authority over Medicare spending -- and in time, over an expanding jurisdiction of private health care payment rates -- behind closed doors.

Freed from the normal administrative rules process -- public notice, public comment, public review -- that governs every other federal commission in existence.

Without the possibility of judicial review. And liberated from congressional oversight except through an onerous accountability procedure.

Last month, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius touted IPAB as a "key part" of Obamacare. The president himself crusaded for giving the board even more regulatory "tools" to usurp congressional power over health care allocations. And he has the audacity to blame Republicans for creating a "banana republic"? Hmph.

The conservative Arizona-based Goldwater Institute has filed suit in federal court to stop IPAB. "No possible reading of the Constitution supports the idea of an unelected, standalone federal board that's untouchable by both Congress and the courts," says the think tank's litigation director, Clint Bolick. But it's the growing opposition from members of the administration's own party that may yet doom these health care czars on steroids.

But look who's not biting: According to Politico, "New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone, of the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, has zero interest in defending the board. 'I've never supported it, and I would certainly be in favor of abolishing it.'" If that's not clear enough, Pallone added that he's "opposed to independent commissions or outside groups playing a role other than on a recommendatory basis." Period.

Another House Democrat, Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania, is one of seven Democratic IPAB repeal co-sponsors and is scheduled to testify Wednesday at a second House hearing blasting the board. And former Democratic House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt channeled the tea party in a recent op-ed when he decried IPAB as "an unelected and unaccountable group whose sole charge is to reduce Medicare spending based on an arbitrary target growth rate."

IPAB defenders demand an alternative, but that's why the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission already exists. And for those unsatisfied with its woeful results, there's the demonized GOP/Rep. Paul Ryan reform package that relies on individual choice and competition over bureaucratic diktats to reduce spiraling Medicare costs.

Opponents of GOP structural reforms have now resorted to decrying Ryan's choice of beverages as a way to discredit the plan. An apparently besotted Rutgers University economist and former Kerry/Edwards economic adviser, Susan Feinberg, accosted Ryan at a D.C. restaurant last week while he was dining with two financial experts over a pricy bottle of wine. "I wasn't drunk, but I was certainly emboldened to speak my mind," Feinberg told liberal blog Talking Points Memo. She gleefully described attacking Ryan for espousing government austerity while -- gasp -- dining out on his own dime.

It's the same unhinged and irrational sanctimony that has New York Times columnist David Brooks assailing entitlement reformers as moral degenerates; the Washington Post's Richard Cohen likening them to Jonestown cult killer Jim Jones; and Daily Beast editor Tina Brown decrying them as "suicide bombers." Ah, the days of whine and bozos.

The good news: Thanks to sober bipartisan criticism (Where are all the cheerleaders for bipartisanship when you need them?), Sebelius and company are now downplaying IPAB as a harmless "backstop mechanism" with limited powers to do anything at all to control costs. At a House hearing Tuesday, Sebelius tried to paint the board as just another run-of-the-mill dog-and-pony panel that would be "irrelevant" if Congress so chooses

It's not quite an under-the-bus moment, but it's certainly a nudge toward rolling back the Obamacare Republic.




Liberal snake oil: "If you’ve ever wondered what snake oil tastes like, just swallow a bit of what the liberals are prescribing for America’s economic ills. Too bad the FDA doesn’t make them put warning labels on that junk. Liberals are saying that the key to restoring economic health to America lies in (1) increasing federal spending, (2) stimulating the economy with newly printed Federal Reserve paper money, (3) taxing the rich, and (4) piling on more federal debt."

National scrutiny for Massachusetts labor law: "The White House took the unusual step this spring of calling Governor Deval Patrick to discuss his plan to curb the collective bargaining rights of public employees, an indication that the Obama administration may have been concerned about the potential for national political fallout. The call was made in late April, just after a tougher version of Patrick’s plan passed the House, sparking outrage from labor leaders who accused Massachusetts Democrats of launching a 'Wisconsin-esque' attack on workers’ rights."

Legalize it: "I don't use marijuana, medical or otherwise. I don't plan to take it up. Still, like an increasing number of Americans, I am vehemently opposed to the war on drugs. Several powerful arguments can be proffered in support of the notion that drug use is a poor life decision. It has a negative impact on health, like eating too much sugar or using tobacco."


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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