Saturday, September 11, 2010


Of the innocent victims of a primitive and barbaric religion


A Conservative Movie Initiative

The midterm elections this fall will feature young people born in 1992 – in other words, four years after Ronald Reagan left office. What do they know about this man?

It’s quite likely that many of them have been told of Reagan’s firm resolve to win the Cold War. But it’s also likely they haven’t learned about the Reagan budget policies that led to a historic economic recovery. Instead, liberal revisionists are working overtime to assign to the Gipper’s tax cut policies the blame for deficits on his watch. Given the disastrous performance of Barack Obama, it’s time to give this man a serious look once again.

Young Hollywood director and producer Ray Griggs has made a breezy and yet substantive documentary titled “I Want Your Money” that can educate young voters on the differences between Reaganomics and Obamanomics. Some might say that Griggs is trying to become the conservative Michael Moore, but that would be unfair, since Moore’s documentaries often depart from the classification of “nonfiction.” When Moore claims health care is better in Cuba than America, or that Iraq before the Iraq was a placid kite-flying paradise under Saddam Hussein, serious filmmakers run from him.

Griggs is talking about a real, gripping American disaster: our trillion-dollar deficits under Obama and the ever-increasing weight of the national debt. Conservatives in this film are appalled by the loose spending of George W. Bush and Congress over the last decade, and correctly so. But they know Obama is making those deficit years look like a nursery-school exercise in overspending. What’s emerging now is Tea Party anger, of conservatives who’ve been pushed too hard for too long.

“I Want Your Money” is stuffed with weighty conservative experts – Steve Moore, Steve Forbes, Newt Gingrich, Ed Meese, Ken Blackwell, and more. But perhaps the most affecting visuals are the old clips of Ronald Reagan, speaking so clearly about the perils of liberal profligacy. There is Reagan at the convention in Dallas in 1984 joking “We could say they spend money like drunken sailors, but that would be unfair to drunken sailors...because the sailors are spending their own money.”

It also has a “BS meter” which goes berserk when Speaker Nancy Pelosi claims that the Democrats will pass the Obama agenda, including ObamaCare, with “no new deficit spending.”

The film not only discusses green-eyeshade budgeting, but the larger philosophical debate between capitalism and socialism. In an animated segment, the Reagan character lectures “Obama” about what kind of productivity you would get in a classroom if everyone was awarded the same grade, no matter how serious the effort: a dramatically reduced work effort from the productive people, while the lazy students would forever be lazy.

It exposes a real contrast between presidents. As experts point out in the film, Ronald Reagan used clarity to teach you about the real world. Barack Obama uses eloquence to hide what he’s doing, because if his real agenda became clear, as it did with ObamaCare, it would be opposed by the majority.

Griggs found a very nice film clip of the late Nobel Prize-winning capitalist economist Milton Friedman speaking to a dark-haired Phil Donahue in 1979. Donahue proclaimed that capitalism was all about greed. Why, Friedman wondered, was it that political self-interest was so much nobler than economic self-interest? A voter born in 1992 has probably never witnessed Milton Friedman’s television work, especially his “Free to Choose” documentary series (also in those paper-stuffed things called books). This kind of exposure could cause a rediscovery, just like this year’s new interest in Friedrich Hayek’s book “Road to Serfdom.”

So how will this film get into theaters, since it’s not one of those left-wing documentaries? A national effort is being organized by Motive Entertainment, the company that promoted the grassroots campaigns for “The Passion of the Christ” and the first “Chronicles of Narnia” movie. In mid-September, they’ll begin organizing private screenings to celebrate Constitution Day on September 17. From there, organizers will prepare for an October 15 theatrical launch in more than 500 theaters from coast to coast.

But this campaign to show box-office appeal won’t be successful without the same grass-roots energy that mobilized the Tea Party protests. The movie trailer on YouTube has more than two million page views. If everyone who watched the trailer would turn out for the whole movie, then theater owners would have no choice but to take notice.

Perhaps, then, Americans will laugh when news anchors (like CNN’s Rick Sanchez) try to describe Obama’s campaign speeches as “Reaganesque.” We can’t even find a Republican who has fully earned that grand adjective, and it certainly doesn’t fit the socialist blather of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.



Afghanistan presents no impossible military challenge, its so-called ‘history’ notwithstanding


In the lexicon of the Left, the adjective “unconquerable” has now attached itself to the noun “Afghanistan” just as indelibly as the adjective “illegal” once attached itself to the noun “war in Iraq.” The New York Times, NPR, the Huffington Post, and the BBC, let alone the wilder shores of the liberal blogosphere, all take it for granted that Afghanistan has always been “the graveyard of empires” — thereby more or less openly encouraging us to draw the inevitable conclusion that the present struggle against the Taliban is unwinnable. Yet the truth could not be more different; rather than the graveyard of empires, Afghanistan has historically been their revolving door.

For as Thomas Barfield of Boston University, author of Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History, points out: “For 2,500 years [Afghanistan] was always part of somebody’s empire, beginning with the Persian Empire in the fifth century b.c.”

The reason that Alexander stayed in Afghanistan so briefly was that there was so little to keep him there, in terms of wealth or produce; he went to Afghanistan to pass through into India. Afghanistan had already been conquered by the Median and Persian Empires beforehand, and afterwards it was conquered by the Seleucids, the Indo-Greeks, the Turks, and the Mongols. The country was quiet for most of the reigns of the Abbasid Dynasty and its successors between 749 and 1258. When Genghis Khan attacked it in 1219, he exterminated every human being in Herat and Balkh, turning Afghanistan back into an agrarian society. Mongol conqueror Tamerlane treated it scarcely better. The Moghuls held Afghanistan peaceably during the reign of Akbar the Great, and for well over a century afterwards.

Hardly any of these empires bothered to try to impose centralized direct power; all devolved a good deal of provincial autonomy as the tribal and geographical nature of the country demanded in the period before modern communications and the helicopter gunship. Yet it was they who ruled, and the fact that the first recognizably Afghan sovereign state was not established until 1747, by Ahmad Shah Durrani, illustrates that the idea of sturdy Afghan independence is a myth.

Nor is Islamic fundamentalism a historically deep-seated phenomenon in Afghanistan. NATO is often accused by the Left of trying to impose Western values on the Afghans, but it was King Amanullah who instituted Kemalist modernization — such as monogamy, Western clothing, and the abolition of the veil — back in 1928. The only people seeking to impose a foreign culture on Afghans are the Taliban.

One of the more recent historical examples of Afghans’ supposed ability to fend off colonial powers, the country’s struggle with the British Empire, deserves close scrutiny. For all the undoubted disaster of Britain’s First Afghan War, the popular version of events is faulty in several important respects. It is true that 16,500 people died in the horrific Retreat from Kabul, but fewer than a quarter of them were soldiers, and only one brigade was British.

The moronic major-general William George Keith Elphinstone evacuated Kabul in midwinter, on Jan. 6, 1842, and the freezing weather destroyed the column as much as the Afghans did; one Englishwoman recalled frostbite so severe that “men took off their boots and their whole feet with them.” Wading through two feet of snow and fast-flowing, freezing rivers killed many more than jezail bullets did, and despite Lady Butler’s painting of assistant surgeon William Brydon entering Jalalabad alone on his pony, in fact several hundred — possibly over a thousand — survived the retreat and were rescued by the punitive expedition that recaptured Kabul by September 1842. Early in 1843, the governor-general, Lord Ellenborough, sent Sir Charles Napier to capture Sind, and thereafter Afghanistan stayed quiet for 30 years.

Sir Jasper Nicolls, the commander-in-chief of India, listed the reasons for the defeat at the time as: “1. not having a safe base of operations, 2. the freezing climate, 3. the lack of cattle, and 4. placing our magazines and treasure in indefensible places.” The lessons NATO needs to learn from the Kabul catastrophe of 1842 are therefore precisely nil, for none of these are applicable in Afghanistan today, where NATO has not lost a single man from frostbite, has not lost a significant engagement against the Taliban, and does not fight with a baggage train of civilians four times its number. Lack of cattle isn’t so important nowadays, either.

The Second Afghan War, which was actually won by Maj. Gen. Sir Frederick Roberts (no relation) at the battle of Kandahar in August 1880, holds similarly few lessons for us today. The major problems in 1878 were the maintenance of lines of communication over the passes and the intimidation of people in the occupied towns. NATO’s lines of communication are not being harried today, and anyhow air power has transformed that as well as the battlefield.

After 1880, in the words of Richard Shannon’s book The Crisis of Imperialism, “Afghan resistance was subdued and Afghanistan was reduced to the status virtually of a British protectorate” until it was given its independence in 1919.



How ObamaCare Guts Medicare

The president's pledge that 'If you like your health plan, you will be able to keep it' clearly does not apply to America's seniors

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has attacked Senate Republican candidates for wanting "to end Medicare as we know it." And in Nevada's hotly contested Senate race, Majority Leader Harry Reid is attacking Republican Sharron Angle, saying she wants to "gut" Medicare. But Mr. Reid has already gutted it. He and his colleagues did so by passing ObamaCare.

In his analysis accompanying the recently released Annual Report of the Medicare Board of Trustees, Richard Foster, Medicare's chief actuary, noted that Medicare payment rates for doctors and hospitals serving seniors will be cut by 30% over the next three years. Under the policies of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, by 2019 Medicare payment rates will be lower than under Medicaid. Mr. Foster notes that by the end of the 75-year projection period in the Annual Medicare Trustees Report, Medicare payment rates will be one-third of what will be paid by private insurance, and only half of what is paid by Medicaid.

Altogether, ObamaCare cuts $818 billion from Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) from 2014-2023, the first 10 years of its full implementation, and $3.2 trillion over the first 20 years, 2014-2033. Adding in ObamaCare cuts for Medicare Part B (physicians fees and other services) brings the total cut to $1.05 trillion over the first 10 years and $4.95 trillion over the first 20 years.

These draconian cuts in Medicare payments to doctors, hospitals and other health-care providers that serve America's seniors were the basis for the Congressional Budget Office's official "score"—repeatedly cited by the president—that the health-reform legislation would actually reduce the federal deficit. But Mr. Obama never disclosed how that deficit reduction would actually be achieved.

There will be additional cuts under ObamaCare to Medicare Advantage, the private option to Medicare that close to one-fourth of all seniors have chosen for their coverage under the program because it gives them a better deal. Mr. Foster estimates that 50% of all seniors with Medicare Advantage will lose their plan because of these cuts. Mr. Obama's pledge that "If you like your health plan, you will be able to keep it" clearly does not apply to America's seniors.

Moreover, there will be additional cuts to Medicare adopted by bureaucrats at the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board. ObamaCare empowers this board to close Medicare financing gaps by adopting further Medicare cuts that would become effective without any congressional action. Mr. Foster reports that "The Secretary of HHS is required to implement the Board's recommendations unless the statutory process is overridden by new legislation."

The drastic reductions in Medicare reimbursements under ObamaCare will create havoc and chaos in health care for seniors. Many doctors, surgeons and specialists providing critical care to the elderly—such as surgery for hip and knee replacements, sophisticated diagnostics through MRIs and CT scans, and even treatment for cancer and heart disease—will cease serving Medicare patients. If the government is not going to pay, then seniors are not going to get the health services, treatment and care they expect.




City Council Meetings to Begin with Muslim Prayers: "In the wake of the battle over a mosque at Ground Zero, a move by the Hartford City Council is sure to have its critics. The Council announced Tuesday that it has invited local imams to perform Islamic invocations at the beginning of the Council meetings in September. Though meetings don't regularly begin with any form of prayer, an email from the Common Council called it "an act of solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters."

Missouri’s licensing boards: Killing jobs every day: "Decades ago, only doctors, lawyers, and accountants were required to get a license from the state before they could lawfully practice their professions. Over time, however, clever people in other lines of work realized that they could use the state government insulate themselves from competition by establishing licensing requirements and other regulatory barriers. The established interests in that profession would, of course, be ‘grandfathered’ in and so would not have to obtain the schooling or pass the examinations that would be required for those wishing to compete with them.”


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


Friday, September 10, 2010

Yearning for rites, ritual and group membership in the world of the individual

I have long argued (See particularly the subhead "Conservatives and emotion") that there is a human need for connectedness both with a group (which can be as broad as a nation) and with the past (which can be a family past or a national past). And conservatives easily satisfy that instinctive need with, for instance, concentration on the family and love of their country and its traditions.

Leftists, however, in their hatred of their own society, are largely cut off from such satisfactions -- hence their extremism and irrationality when they find something or someone whom they feel they can identify with -- from Adolf Hitler to Barack Obama, from Nazism to the many other forms of extreme Leftism (including Communism, Trotskyism etc.)

Interesting to see similar thinking below in a Westernized Australian Muslim. The examples of ritual and custom that he gives focus on Australia but similar American customs and rituals come easily to mind: Thanksgiving, 4th of July etc.

By Tanveer Ahmed

Life in our secular and material world often lacks ritual. From praying in a house of worship to participating in a family dinner, time-honoured rites have become less common. The demands of efficiency do not care for such intangible worth.

Ramadan, the holy month of fasting when Muslims abstain from eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset, is ending. It is believed the first verses of the Koran were revealed during this period, and its end is signalled by the sighting of the new moon.

My family is not religious, but it is a practice we like to perform. It binds us to our ancestral past and connects us to a cultural group. Almost all cultures have some tradition of fasting. Whether it is Catholics avoiding meat on Fridays, the Jewish tradition of Yom Kippur, or Native American tribes fasting to stimulate ecstatic experiences: fasting is ubiquitous.

In modern times fasting has become more associated with political protest than religion. Gandhi is perhaps its most famous proponent, but more recently in Australia, asylum seekers have become the torch bearers. Tamils protesting at the maltreatment of their brethren in Sri Lanka are the latest examples.

As a psychiatrist, myths and their associated rituals often form the backdrop to many problems I see.

A growing group of my patients fall in the category of what is called borderline personality disorder, an illness where patients cannot calibrate their emotions and often engage in damaging behaviours like self-mutilation or food deprivation. They can suffer visions and a loss of boundaries. They usually present in their adolescence.

An American study in 2008 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found the prevalence was much higher than was previously thought, at around 6 per cent.

Many of these damaging behaviours are similar to rites of passage in more traditional cultures, suggesting the disorder may be related to the failure of Western, liberal culture to provide context and myth for meaningful phases in development. Their symptoms may actually be attempts at self healing gone astray in a culture bereft of an integrative spiritual and ritualistic context.

Individual narratives have their parallels in societies and communities. Anthropologists have long had a chicken and egg argument about the relationship between myths and ritual.

Anzac Day is an example. There have been record turnouts in recent years to dawn services in venues such as Martin Place, especially among young people. A new generation of Australians have embraced the Anzac legend as their most powerful myth of nationhood, and with it has come the ritual of attending the dawn service. It has helped fill a need in a post-religious society that no longer delivers ancient certainties to young people in search of spiritual nourishment.

Our most recent election could also be construed as a grand ritual built on a myth. Modern democracies hinge on the idea of representation, of one person standing for a much larger group of people, making the decisions "they" might expect to make had they been consulted. This mysterious link between representative and represented is established and renewed in ritual form; through elections.

An anthropologist at Sydney University, Stephen Juan, argues the yearning for ritual and group membership has never been greater, especially in a society becoming more fragmented and atomised. He points to a host of trends such as rave parties, the growth in events like outdoor concerts and the rise of radical religious movements such as Hillsong or Islamic extremism as part of the same pattern.

Juan has observed that even consumer rituals such as buying presents or shopping for oneself are examples of rituals of the least nourishing kind. "When in doubt, we go and buy. It makes us feel empowered, that we are deserving of love, albeit for an instant."

But even consumer rituals can have value when used to create social bonds and nourish interpersonal relationships, a fact marketers have long exploited, often resulting in people putting consumption ahead of the social bonds the act of shopping is meant to strengthen. And yet consuming more only increases our yearning for those bonds.



Even America's liberal elites concede that Obama's Presidency is crumbling
Democrats in Congress are no longer asking themselves whether this is going to be a bad election year for them and their party. They are asking whether it is going to be a disaster. The GOP pushed deep into Democratic-held territory over the summer, to the point where the party is well within range of picking up the 39 seats it would need to take control of the House. Overall, as many as 80 House seats could be at risk, and fewer than a dozen of these are held by Republicans.

Political handicappers now say it is conceivable that the Republicans could also win the 10 seats they need to take back the Senate. Not since 1930 has the House changed hands without the Senate following suit.

Is this a piece from National Review, The Weekly Standard, The Wall Street Journal or Fox, all major conservative news outlets in the United States? No. It’s a direct quote from yesterday’s Washington Post, usually viewed by conservatives as a flagship of the liberal establishment inside the Beltway. The fact The Post is reporting that not only could Republicans sweep the House of Representatives this November, but may even take the Senate as well, is a reflection of just how far the mainstream, overwhelmingly left-of-centre US media has moved in the last month towards acknowledging the scale of the crisis facing the White House.

To its credit, The Washington Post has generally been ahead of the curve compared to its main competitors such as The New York Times in reporting President Obama’s travails, but its striking front page coverage of the “Democrats’ plight” and talk of a possible GOP Senate win (regarded as fantasy just a fortnight ago) was a bold step for a publication that is probably read in every office of the Obama administration.

The Post also ran another headline yesterday on its front page – “Republicans making gains ahead of midterm elections” – which would undoubtedly have sent a shudder through the White House. It carried a new poll commissioned jointly with ABC News, which showed public faith in Barack Obama’s leadership has fallen to an all-time low, with just 46 percent approval. The Washington Post-ABC News survey revealed high levels of public unease with President Obama’s handling of the economy, with 57 percent of Americans disapproving, and 58 percent critical of his handling of the deficit.

For most of the year, America’s political and media elites, including the Obama team itself, have touted the notion of an economic recovery (which never materialised), significantly underestimated the rise of the Tea Party movement, and questioned the notion that conservatism was sweeping America.

It is only now hitting home just how close Washington is to experiencing a political revolution in November that will fundamentally change the political landscape on Capitol Hill, with huge implications for the Obama presidency. What was once a perspective confined largely to Fox News, online conservative news sites, or talk radio is now gaining ground in the liberal US print media as well – historic change is coming to America, though not quite the version promised by Barack Obama.



The Constitution Trumps Islamic Law

When reading stories about that formerly obscure Florida preacher who wants to mark the ninth anniversary of 9/11 by burning a stack of Qurans, bear in mind that the only law he breaks in doing so is Islamic law. With this in mind, it should become clear that the extraordinary global campaign against this stunt is yet another concerted effort, aided by an army's worth of useful fools, to bring our constitutional republic into conformance with Islamic law.

Islam demands "respect" with an intensity and strategic purpose well beyond other beliefs. (Still) don't believe me? For indelible culture contrast, imagine the worldwide body count in reaction to a hypothetical NEA-funded project entitled "Piss Mohammed," or the absence of a worldwide body count in reaction to the Army's actual decision to discard and burn a bunch of Bibles on a U.S. base in Afghanistan last year for fear of offending Muslims in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan -- a land where Christian converts (Abdul Rahman) and promoters of (minimal) women's rights (Sayed Pervez Kambakhsh) must flee with their lives, by the way.

What Islam is demanding, then, is a separate speech code for itself. This demand is manifested at the highest diplomatic levels in a strategic campaign by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Islamic bloc of 57 nations that functions in the international arena as an Islamic supra-state. The OIC has long been maneuvering to bring international law into conformance with Islamic law by prohibiting "defamation of religions" -- namely Islam -- at the United Nations.

This same demand also manifests itself in the society-level assumption that Islam should somehow exist in a state of exaltation that no Western society grants any belief system, or any God.

That narrative, or rationale, tells us that burning a Quran causes murder and mayhem, putting our troops, our citizens, our cities and our interests at increased risk. In this narrative, the actual bad actors are absolved of both volition and blame. Similarly, drawing cartoons of Muhammad (Kurt Westergaard, Lars Vilks) -- or not drawing cartoons of Muhammad ("South Park") -- sermonizing about violence within Islam (the Pope), and critiquing Islam (Geert Wilders' "Fitna") are increasingly viewed as unacceptably "insensitive" and "disrespectful" provocations in Western society, regardless of their free-speech protections.

This is rank capitulation to dhimmitude, the non-Islamic state of deference to Islamic law, and it is now being repeated in the misdirected Western offensive against the Florida preacher -- an effort that should be turned into an unapologetic defense of his constitutional rights. Repeat after me: The Constitution trumps Islamic law.



Pataki: ObamaCare Individual Mandate "Patently Unconstitutional"

State lawsuits that argue against the constitutionality of ObamaCare under the Commerce Clause have considerable merit and could potentially come before the U.S. Supreme Court former New York Gov. George Pataki told reporters Wednesday during a question and answer period at The National Press Club.

In response to a question from The American Spectator that asked whether or not the state suits could potentially reach The Supreme Court, Pataki responded “Yes, I do.” But he also said that opponents should not rely on the judiciary alone and work toward the election of a new Congress more responsive to public sentiment.

“I think that there are legitimate constitutional issues when the federal government is imposing new burdens on the states, new burdens that they have to increase their Medicaid eligibility break when the states pay a significant part of that without providing any funding,” he observed.

Pataki continued, “I think there are some serious constitutional issues particularly when you are telling someone who just doesn’t want to be a part of the system that you’re going to get health care coverage acceptable to a Washington bureaucrat or we’re going to fine you.




US Marines storm pirate-held cargo ship: "US Marine commandos stormed a pirate-held cargo ship off the Somalia coast, reclaiming control and taking nine prisoners without firing a shot in the first such boarding ride by the international antipiracy flotilla, according to the US Navy. The mission — using small craft to reach the deck of German-owned vessel as the crew huddled in a safe room below — ranks among the most dramatic high seas confrontations with pirates by the task force created to protect shipping lanes off lawless Somalia. The crew managed to kill the engines before taking refuge in an panic room-style chamber, leaving the ship adrift and the pirates so frustrated they started damaging equipment after hijacking the vessel on Wednesday"

Switzerland: Shelter for newly separated husbands opens: "A trickle of newly separated Swiss fathers looking for shelter and help after marital breakdown have been finding a warm bed and a sympathetic ear from a pilot project on the shores of Lake Zurich. Unique in Switzerland, the project has seen the numbers of applications to stay in the house increasing every week. ‘80 percent of the time it is the wife asking for a divorce and the children stay in the family home while the father leaves with his suitcases and becomes more vulnerable,’ Cabalzar told Reuters.”


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


Thursday, September 09, 2010

Our Waning Obama Worship: We Americans know not what we do

A touch of sarcasm from Victor Davis Hanson

In just 20 months, President Obama’s polls have crashed. From near 70 percent approval, they have fallen to well below 50 percent. Over 70 percent of the public disapproves of the Democratically controlled Congress. Hundreds of thousands of angry voters flocked to hear Glenn Beck & Co. on the Washington Mall. Indeed, things have gotten so bad that the cherubic Mormon Beck might outdraw Barack Obama himself on any given Sunday.

All this was not supposed to be — and it has evoked a lot of anger. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson thunders, “The American people are acting like a bunch of spoiled brats.”

You see, hoi polloi want “easy solutions” — like trying to close an open border, cut federal spending, and balance the budget. Instead, they should be manning up to pay more for gas, more in taxes, and more for entitlements for more to come across the border.

Worse still, the uninformed voter cannot seem to appreciate the brilliance of Barack Obama, who has deigned to suffer on our behalf, in offering only unpopular but necessary solutions. Obama has tried his best to prepare an immature nation for amnesty, borrowing at record levels, cap and trade, and additional trillions of national debt — the castor oil that the obese and now constipated public for some reason just won’t swallow.

Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution chimes in with the thought that Neanderthal Americans can’t really distinguish between cause and effect. So in clueless fashion, they blame big deficits, big spending, and high unemployment on Obama, when what they’re really afraid of is the “browning of America.” In other words, we remain a nation of primitives resisting the future. “Successful black and brown professionals have had to learn to be comfortable in a sea of white faces, but most white Americans have not experienced the reverse. And many are not eager to have that experience. While some prognosticators were naïve enough to believe that Obama’s election signaled the beginning of a post-racial era, it prompted something altogether different: a backlash against the browning of America.”

Vanity Fair just ran yet another hit piece on the now-worn subject of the ogre Sarah Palin. Uppity Sarah, you see, is still on her hind legs — even after the 2008 swat from the Katie Couric set, the jogging-suit photos, and the true-story revelations from the philosopher Levi Johnston.

Worse still, Sarah is no longer quite the white-trash yokel with the snowmobiling husband and pregnant teenage daughter that so appealed to Cynthia Tucker’s backlash America. Instead, Palin has had the gall to have devolved into a fake yokel, with Michelle Obama–like fashion pretensions. So Vanity Fair shocks us with the dirt that the now-clothes-hungry former mayor of Wasilla is making some money speaking. She is not the sandwich-making mom of five that she used to be. And she doesn’t really do the moose-and-fish thing any more.

Still, in reading Vanity Fair’s bill of particulars, we wonder, “Compared to what?” Is Ms. Palin making any more money than the aggregate $100 million collected by good ol’ boy Bill Clinton — as he jetted his way around the globe between 2001 and 2009, offering his “aw shucks” global initiatives to any creepy foreign thug who would pony up the near-million-dollar fee? Are the now-orphaned Palin children missing their careerist mother more than, say, the Obama children missed their absentee father huckstering on the campaign trail for two years in 2007–2008? And is Ms. Palin really less of a game-eating shooter than the duck-hunting camouflaged John Kerry was in 2004?

The New York Times is just as let down with the volatile American mob that has stormed out in the middle of the sermon on the mount — after once so bravely thronging to the “god” who assured us that he would stop the flooding and cool the planet. Vero possumus indeed.

Americans, and even liberal New Yorkers, poll over 70 percent opposed to the so-called Ground Zero mosque — even after our president gave a courageous standing-ovation pep talk to a group of anguished Muslims at a White House Ramadan dinner. “New Yorkers,” the Times scoffed, “like other Americans, have a way to go.” My god, you would have thought that we had given a discount to to run a slanderous “General Betray Us” ad, as an American general came back from the front to Washington to save a war.

The president himself is grieved by these polls and the Beck-led protests. Indeed, he derides it all as the “silly season.” He does not mean “silly” as in Michelle Obama’s Marbella–to–Martha’s Vineyard odyssey, or his own mini-recession summits on the golf links. Instead, like Robinson and Tucker, he is bewildered that millions don’t appreciate that our godhead is “making decisions that are not necessarily good for the nightly news and not good for the next election, but for the next generations.” I suppose here the president means that he is on schedule to add more debt than all previous presidents combined — just the sort of bravery that the “next generations” who will pay for it will appreciate.

In the case of Obama worship, the tone is always set at the top. So we are back to 2008, when candidate Obama likewise attributed any rejection to the inability of yokel America to appreciate his inspired leadership — “it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

In short, a frustrated America has let the liberal elite down. And it is all the more disheartening when you think that just two years ago we proved sort of redeemable by electing Barack Obama — amid the hysteria following the financial panic of September 2008, the lackluster campaign of John McCain, Obama’s own faux-centrist veneer, the glow of electing America’s first African-American president, and the first orphaned election since 1952 when no incumbent of either party was running.

Apparently the liberal elite did not consider that perfect storm of events that elected a northern liberal in a way that had been impossible with George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and John Kerry. Instead, they really believed that Obama’s election was proof that at last America had shed its odious -isms and -ologies. America was now ready for an updated FDR New Deal — as if, after seven decades, America had never tasted Social Security, unemployment and disability insurance, a 40-hour work week, and trillions in unfunded pensions and entitlements. In this “never let a crisis go to waste” teachable moment, the cognitive elite was convinced that America had at last crossed the liberal threshold and so evolved from the passé equality of opportunity to the promised equality of result.

But now a grouchy elite and a petulant president see that they were sorely mistaken about us, and Mr. Obama’s election was more flukish than predestined. Americans were given government takeovers of business, multi-trillion-dollar deficits, promised higher taxes, a path to socialized medicine, and an end to building the odious border fence — with, to top it all off, accusations from the likes of Van Jones and Eric Holder, apologies and bows abroad, and the beer summit. And yet the rustic ingrates are rejecting both the benefactor and his munificence.

Forgive us, Barack Obama, for we know not what we do.



Tea Partiers give an answer to decades of Leftist slanders about conservatives

It will come as news to no one that conservatism has long had a PR problem. The political question of 2010 is this: do America's voters finally "get" conservatism?

For a half-century or more, conservatism's public image has covered a vast spectrum ranging from the Neanderthals on one end to Genghis Khan on the other. Conservatism has been depicted as the political doctrine of Klansmen, inbred backwoodsmen, paranoids, and religious fanatics. (Timothy McVeigh, an atheist and anarchist, is almost always characterized as a "right-wing Christian.. I know of no case where this assertion has been corrected.)

Joe McCarthy (a former New Deal liberal) added an unsavory element of power abuse, Richard Nixon (who governed as a leftist exceeded only by Barack Obama) a dank aura of personality disorder. Derived from all this was the implication, long hard-pedaled by the left, that no decent or moral person would have anything to do with such types, much less vote for them or offer moral or political support. This slur has proven effective for decades. It has acquired the status of an axiom, demanding no proof or evidence, reinforced by casual references and asides from all corners of American culture -- music, films, novels, news and commentary, and political rhetoric. It remains in force today, as the treatment of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sarah Palin clearly reveal....

Leftist influence on media and education also put them in a position to debase the conservative image. "Extremist" became the term of choice. Conservative fascination with Europe enabled the left to tar conservatives with the fascist brush. A concerted effort was made in the 1961-64 period to associate the new conservatism with wild-eyed fringe types. News reports from monopoly wire services and Big Three networks featured bizarre and often fake stories about "right-wing" paramilitary groups such as the Minutemen (no relation to the current organization) and the Rangers drilling in the backwoods, spiced with conspiracy theories concerning U.S. military coup plans. All quite familiar from our vantage point, but a novelty at the time.

The American public perhaps only half-bought into all this, but they were deluged with it constantly by an unchallenged national media operating from ultraliberal New York City. On the smoke/fire principle, many thought better than to associate with such "extremists" even though the "extreme" positions were no different from those of the average American. The conservative "extremist" label was one of liberalism's most brilliant ploys, one that was to pay them enormous dividends over the ensuing half-century.

Conservatives could not shake the "extremist" label or overcome the "fascist" accusation. "Racist" soon joined the lexicon with the belated recognition of the civil rights movement by the Democrats. With such a public image, any crime was plausible -- and the left didn't hesitate to throw every possible innuendo. Many of them stuck.

As a result, the American public, though voting conservative and supporting conservative policies, could not be persuaded to openly march under the conservative banner. Such hesitation is easily understood -- who would happily accept the labels of "fascist" or "racist"? That, in large part, is how it remained until the turn of the century....

The watershed has arrived with the Tea Parties. Triggered by a single cable news broadcast, nurtured by the net and talk radio, the Tea Parties brought out tens of thousands of Americans previously uninvolved in politics, many of whom would have denied any conscious connection to conservatism. They were by no means movement conservatives, of either the Northeast or cowboy variety, but instead average Americans who saw their cherished traditions placed under threat by a runaway central government -- which plainly renders them purer conservatives than any given faction. (It's a disturbing but undeniable fact that many of the conservative East-Coast elite, such as David Brooks and Kathleen Parker, have been dismissive of the Tea Parties, to put it mildly.)

The left, working through the media, opened the customary cans of invective and innuendo on the Tea Parties, attempting to paint them with the long-established labels of "racist" and "extremist." This time, it didn't stick. Was it the waning power of the legacy media, a new maturity within the public mind, or simply the fact that most of these new activists were ordinary, everyday people? Whatever the case, the tried-and-true "extremist" shtick failed. The Tea Parties were able to operate effectively free of the "extremist" myth. For the first time in living memory, a conservative movement was allowed to establish itself through its own actions and rhetoric.

The year 2010 is likely to be a banner year for the conservative impulse in American life. The Tea Parties have already pushed aside several go-along-to-get-along Republican hacks (which in itself repudiates accusations of partisanship). The sweep of corrupt and ideologized Democrats promises to be an order of magnitude larger. But the 2010 election may well turn into no more than another good election season if we don't take advantage of the disarray in the left's messaging system.

We need to look farther and deeper than a single election. We need to bury the calumnies against conservatism that have given the left the advantage for a half-century and longer. To remove the weapon of slander from leftist hands. Elite conservatives failed to attempt this for decade upon decade. The time has arrived to see that it gets done. We must move to change the culture, to establish once and for all the truth that conservatism is a core element of American life, that it is no oddity, no perversion, no dead end. That the modernist political debate is over, with the failure of leftist progressivism manifest and undeniable, and that the game must now be played on American terms.

We will have no better opportunity than this. That most American of political phenomena, the Tea Parties, has established once and for all that conservatism is American and that America is a conservative nation. If we can build upon this, our road will be a lot smoother than it has been.

More here



Castro: Cuban model “doesn’t even work for us any more”: "Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro has joked [sic] that the ‘Cuban model doesn’t even work for us any more,’ the Atlantic magazine reported Wednesday. … Julia Sweig, a Cuba expert at the Council on Foreign Relations who was present at the meeting was quoted as saying Castro ‘wasn’t rejecting the ideas of the Revolution. I took it to be an acknowledgement that under ‘the Cuban model’ the state has much too big a role in the economic life of the country.’”

Entrepreneurs under attack: "Every day, federal, state and local governments stifle small businesses to privilege well-connected incumbent companies. It’s a system of protectionism for influential insiders who don’t want competition. Every locality has its share of business moguls who are cozy with politicians. Together, they use the power of government to keep competition down and prices high.”

Will infrastructure repairs cut unemployment?: "Whenever the economy is in recession, lots of people claim we can ‘put America back to work by rebuilding the infrastructure.’ So I am not surprised that President Obama has decided to continue the ‘infrastructure’ mantra in his latest economic plan. … The $50 billion in ‘front-loaded’ spending likely means Obama will direct money quickly to those states and congressional districts where the Democratic incumbents are in trouble.”


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Why the Right Fears Transforming America -- and the Left Seeks It

A good basic statement from Dennis Prager below

The giveaway regarding presidential candidate Barack Obama's plans for America was his repeated use of the words "fundamentally transform." Some of us instinctively reacted negatively -- in fact, with horror -- at the thought of fundamentally transforming America. The "us" are conservatives.

One unbridgeable divide between left and right is how each views alternatives to present-day America. Those on the left imagine an ideal society that has never existed, and therefore seek to "fundamentally transform" America. When liberals imagine an America fundamentally transformed, they envision it becoming a nearly utopian society in which there is no greed, no racism, no sexism, no inequality, no poverty and ultimately no unhappiness.

Conservatives, on the other hand, look around at other societies and history and are certain that if America were fundamentally transformed, it would become just like those other societies. America would become a society of far less liberty, of ethically and morally inferior citizens and of much more unhappiness. And cruelty would increase exponentially around the world.

Conservatives believe that America is an aberration in human history; that, with all the problems that a society made up of flawed human beings will inevitably have, America has been and remains a uniquely decent society. Therefore, conservatives worry that fundamentally transforming America -- making America less exceptional -- will mean that America gets much worse.

Liberals worry over the opposite possibility -- that America will remain more or less as it is. Two famous statements encapsulate the operative liberal worldview.

The first was attributed to Robert F. Kennedy by his brother Sen. Edward M. Kennedy: "There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were, and ask, 'Why not?'"

The other is one of the most popular songs of the last 50 years, John Lennon's "Imagine":
"Imagine there's no heaven. It's easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky. Imagine all the people, living for today.

"Imagine there's no countries. It isn't hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion, too, Imagine all the people, living life in peace.

"You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one.

"Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can. No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people, sharing all the world.

"You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will live as one."

Regarding the Kennedy quote, a conservative would respond something like this:

We conservatives look at America and ask, how did something so decent, so different from other societies, ever get created and last over 200 years? Of course, we always seek to improve it. But more than anything else, we seek to preserve it and its core values. We do not "dream of things that never were." We dream the same dream as our American forefathers did -- to maintain a society committed to the values of E Pluribus Unum, Liberty and In God We Trust. As for utopian dreams, we believe they are more likely to result in nightmares -- horrors that would engulf America and the world if America were to be transformed.

To Lennon's song, a conservative would respond:

Lennon's utopia is our dystopia. A world without God to give people some certitude that all their suffering is not meaningless is a nightmare. A world without religion means a world without any systematic way of ennobling people. A world without countries is a world without the United States of America, and it is a world governed by the morally imbecilic United Nations, where mass murderers sit on its "human rights" councils. A world without heaven or hell is a world without any ultimate justice, where torturers and their victims have identical fates -- oblivion. A world without possessions is a world in which some enormous state possesses everything, and the individual is reduced to the status of a serf.

Liberals frequently criticize conservatives for fearing change. That is not correct. We fear transforming that which is already good. The moral record of humanity does not fill us with optimism about "fundamentally transforming" something as rare as America. Evil is normal. America is not.



Political Fables

Thomas Sowell

President Barack Obama boldly proclaims, "The buck stops here!" But, whenever his policies are criticized, he acts as if the buck stopped with George W. Bush.

The party line that we are likely to be hearing from now until the November elections is that Obama "inherited" the big federal budget deficits and that he has to "clean up the mess" left in the economy by the Republicans. This may convince those who want to be convinced, but it will not stand up under scrutiny.

No President of the United States can create either a budget deficit or a budget surplus. All spending bills originate in the House of Representatives and all taxes are voted into law by Congress.

Democrats controlled both houses of Congress before Barack Obama became president. The deficit he inherited was created by the Congressional Democrats, including Senator Barack Obama, who did absolutely nothing to oppose the runaway spending. He was one of the biggest of the big spenders.

The last time the federal government had a budget surplus, Bill Clinton was president, so it was called "the Clinton surplus." But Republicans controlled the House of Representatives, where all spending bills originate, for the first time in 40 years. It was also the first budget surplus in more than a quarter of a century.

The only direct power that any president has that can affect deficits and surpluses is the power to veto spending bills. President Bush did not veto enough spending bills but Senator Obama and his fellow Democrats in control of Congress were the ones who passed the spending bills.

Today, with Barack Obama in the White House, allied with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in charge in Congress, the national debt is a bigger share of the national output than it has been in more than half a century. And its share is projected to continue going up for years to come, becoming larger than national output in 2012.

Having created this scary situation, President Obama now says, "Don't give in to fear. Let's reach for hope." The voters reached for hope when they elected Obama. The fear comes from what he has done since taking office.

Another political fable is that the current economic downturn is due to not enough government regulation of the housing and financial markets. But it was precisely the government regulators, under pressure from politicians, who forced banks and other lending institutions to lower their standards for making mortgage loans. These risky loans, and the defaults that followed, were what set off a chain reaction of massive financial losses that brought down the whole economy.

Was this due to George W. Bush and the Republicans? Only partly. Most of those who pushed the lowering of mortgage lending standards were Democrats-- notably Congressman Barney Frank and Senator Christopher Dodd, though too many Republicans went along.

When President Bush said in 2004 that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be reined in, 76 members of the House of Representatives issued a statement to the contrary. These included Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel.

More here


Obama is pulling down the shades on union financial disclosure

Should a union officer be able to keep his full compensation from the union treasury secret from the members? Should a union officer be able to accept personal payments from businesses the union has dealings with and then keep such dealings confidential?

Most would think the answer to these questions is an obvious “no.” Union management does not agree and they are willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars from their members’ dues to prevent any such reporting and disclosure.

The reason I know this is that I spent eight years at the U.S. Department of Labor attempting to get unions to comply with such reporting requirements and they fought us every step on the way. With the arrival of President Obama, all such requirements are being rolled back or the Labor Department is refusing to enforce them until such a time as they can be rolled back.

More here



NY: Unarmed orthodox Jews patrol neighborhoods: "On Thursday night in Brooklyn, a suspect was chased and quickly surrounded by a group of patrolmen in blue uniform jackets who ordered him to halt. The man, David Flores, 33, who witnesses say was fondling himself in front of children in a Hasidic section of Brooklyn known as Borough Park, was about to be caught by the men in blue. He began shooting at the men, all unarmed, with a .22-caliber handgun, the authorities said, hitting and wounding four before being tackled. Although these streets are in the jurisdiction of the New York Police Department — the 66th Precinct — these patrolmen were not police officers. In fact, two were bakers, one was a dry cleaner and the fourth sells insurance.”

Troops don't believe Uncle Sam: "Uncle Sam wants to give free, no-strings-attached money to about 145,000 troops involuntarily kept on duty after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but is having trouble persuading them that it’s not a gimmick. Last October, Congress approved retroactive bonus pay for military personnel who were forced to remain on duty beyond their original discharge date, a controversial policy known as ’stop-loss.’ Lawmakers approved back pay of $500 for each month of involuntary service; the average lump sum due is between $3,500 and $3,800. To get the cash, an application must be submitted by Oct. 21; only about a third of those eligible have handed in paperwork.”

Legal bid to halt snooping U.S. airport staff: "Civil rights lawyers are suing the US Government to stop authorities from snooping in the laptops, mobile phones and cameras of international travellers without probable cause. The lawsuit was filed in US District Court in Brooklyn against the Department of Homeland Security as well as US customs and immigration authorities. The government did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Lawyers filed the lawsuit on behalf of the National Press Photographers Association, criminal defense lawyers and the student: Pascal Abidor, a 26-year-old French-American citizen whose laptop computer was confiscated at the Canadian border." [The searches are a blatant breach of the 4th amendment]

'More than half think Barack Obama is doing a bad job on the economy': "More than half of Americans believe Barack Obama is doing a bad job on the economy, according to a new poll, marking the first time the majority has voiced their disapproval. Some 57 per cent of Americans disapprove of Mr Obama's overall handling of the economy, while his job approval rating is also at a low, with 52 per cent saying he is not doing well. However there is some hope for the Democrats as only 32 per cent think Republican economic plans would work, although voters would favour a Republican candidate over a Democrat by 53 per cent to 40 per cent, according to the poll by ABC and The Washington Post."

OH: Bary granted US residency: "A runaway who said her father threatened to kill her for converting to Christianity from Islam has been granted permanent residency in the United States, her lawyer told CNN on Tuesday. Rifqa Bary, 18, who was an undocumented immigrant until recently, left her family in Columbus, Ohio, in July 2009 and took refuge in the home of a minister in Orlando, Florida. The girl was later moved into foster care after she said in an affidavit that her Muslim father had threatened her after finding out about her conversion. Her father denies the allegation.”

“Stimulus” snake oil: "A year after the US economy stopped falling, we are still mired in ‘the worst labor-market crisis since the Great Depression,’ writes Laura Tyson in The New York Times. Voicing the consensus of the left-liberal economic establishment — she’s reportedly a leading candidate to head up President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers — Tyson argues that the US unemployment rate, still stuck at 9.6 percent, is reason to try ‘a second fiscal stimulus’ to raise ‘aggregate demand.’ She’s wrong in a number of illuminating ways.”

The precedent for the NYC mosque: "Muslim followers of Shariah law have long built mosques on the most cherished and sacred sites of the peoples they have conquered – on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, at Constantinople’s St. Sophia Basilica (now Istanbul), and in Cordoba, Spain, the capital of the occupying Moors’ Islamic kingdom. Many Hindu and Buddhist temples also were destroyed in Asia and now lay underneath prominent mosques. These are the “facts on the ground” of Islamic conquest and religious supercessionism."

Here we go again: "Innumerable arguments and research have been produced showing that government stimulus is useless. Despite what President Obama and his cheerleaders in the academy, like Princeton’s Paul Krugman, seem to believe (or at least say), there is no evidence that government stimuli do anything to restore market activities. Such policies merely take funds from the right pocket and put it into the left while most often the transfer entails wasting a lot of resources so the net effect is widespread economic loss.”


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Shana Tova to my Jewish readers

For non-Jewish readers, Rosh Hashanah is the main Jewish "New Year". It begins this year at sunset September 8. "Shana Tova" is a wish for the recipient to have a good new year.


Why Islamic Moderates Are So Scarce

As past statements of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf continue to surface, many Americans have concluded that the would-be builder of a mosque at Ground Zero is lying when he calls himself a “moderate” representative of his faith. The more disturbing possibility, however, is that he’s telling the truth — that Rauf is indeed the voice of mainstream Islam.

One indication is the resounding silence from the rest of the Islamic community. If that community were truly moderate — as we in the West understand the term — one might expect it to distance itself from a man who blames the U.S. for the 9/11 attacks, says we have more innocent blood on our hands than al-Qaeda, and refuses to disown the genocidal agenda of Hamas.

A few brave Muslim individuals have indeed come out against the mosque, but they are exceptions. Where are the large numbers of Muslims who find Rauf’s statements offensive? Where are their organizations and institutions? Why aren’t they weighing in to repudiate Rauf and his apparent aims?

It’s a common problem. Each time some new offense is perpetrated in the name of Islam — whether it’s the latest suicide bombing in a public square or a woman’s being beaten and mutilated by her own family — it is mostly Western leaders and the press who voice their disapproval. The more one looks for the larger Muslim community to denounce the violence, the more “moderate Islam” seems to vanish like a mirage in the desert.

Why this is so — what happened to moderate Islam and what sort of hope we may have for it in the future — is the subject of Robert Reilly’s brilliant and groundbreaking new book, The Closing of the Muslim Mind. Reilly is a veteran of the Reagan White House, director of the Voice of America under George W. Bush, a board member of the Middle East Media Research Institute, and a frequent contributor to numerous national publications. He has made a deep dive into Muslim thought and history to discover the sources of the present Islamic condition.

The result is anything but dry. Closing is a page-turner that reads almost like an intellectual detective novel. It is among those few brave books on Islam — others would include Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations and Andrew McCarthy’s recent The Grand Jihad — that should be read by anyone who wants to understand one of the most fundamental causes of conflict in the 21st century.

Reilly does in fact locate the elusive moderate Islam — back in the 8th and 9th centuries, when the rationalist Mu’tazilites dominated Islamic thought under Caliph al-Ma’mun. The period is often referred to as the “golden age of Islam,” when that civilization produced some of its highest achievements in philosophy and science. It didn’t last. In 849, the second year of the reign of Caliph Ja’afar al-Mutawakkil, the Mu’tazilites were overthrown. Holding Mu’tazilite beliefs became a crime punishable by death, and the decidedly anti-rationalist Ash’arites soon came to dominate the faith, as they would continue to do, in one form or another, through the modern era.

What makes Closing so compelling is Reilly’s ability to tie seemingly arcane questions of Islamic theology to many of the characteristics of Islamic civilization that we in the West find so hard to fathom. Fundamentally, Ash’arism was a rejection of “natural law” and reason in favor of an all-powerful God of pure will and power. The idea of an ordered universe that behaves according to certain ordained laws — whether moral or physical — would have been understood by the Mu’tazilites. For the Ash’arites, this was blasphemy, an outrage against God’s omnipotence.

In the language of philosophy, this way of looking at the world is known, somewhat confusingly, as “voluntarism.” To quote Reilly, it “holds that God is the primary cause of everything and there are no secondary causes. There is no causal mediation. Therefore, what may seem to be ‘natural laws,’ such as the laws of gravity, physics, etc. are really nothing more than God’s customs or habits, which He is at complete liberty to break or change at any moment.”

While Christianity recognizes the possibility of miracles, when God intervenes to supersede natural law, in Islam every nanosecond is the functional equivalent of a miracle, the result of God’s divine act. Thus there is no law of gravity, only God’s will, determining moment by moment that the apple will fall from the tree. Neither is there any morality, no objective good and evil as we in the West would see it, only the arbitrary decrees of an all-powerful God. There is no “truth that is written in our hearts,” only the truths that are written in the Koran, which could just as well be otherwise if such were the whim of God. As Ibn Hazm pronounced in the 11th century, “He judges as He pleases, and whatever He judges is just. . . . If God the Exalted had informed us that He would punish us for the acts of others . . . all that would have been right and just.”

The problem, one might say, is obvious. In science, the repudiation of natural law meant the explicit denial of cause and effect. No wonder that the rise of the Ash'arites coincided with the decline of a once-vibrant Islamic intellectual culture after the 13th century. And no wonder that societies that exalt the power and arbitrary will of God to the exclusion of reason can hardly understand, let alone embrace, modern democratic institutions, which are founded, as our Declaration of Independence makes clear, in the self-evident and enduring truths of natural law.

Nor can we be surprised that such cultures endorse institutionalized domestic violence or rampant terrorism and the murder of innocents. As hard as it is for the secular Left to accept, Western culture is founded on and steeped in the Judeo-Christian assumption that our innate understanding of what is right is a direct reflection of God’s goodness and justice as reflected in His universal law, to which even He adheres. We make a mistake when we assume other cultures are necessarily speaking the same moral language.

Is there a possibility that Islam can find its way back to the root philosophies of its golden age? There are those within Islam who want to, but — like the voices raised in opposition to the mosque — they are lonely, even threatened, outposts within their faith. One thing Reilly’s account makes clear: Only when we move beyond the common platitudes of our contemporary political discussion and begin to deal with Islam as it really is — rather than the fiction that it is the equivalent of our Western culture dressed up in a burqa — will we be able to help make progress in that direction.



Yes, we do need government: Just not as much of it as many seem to think

No, I've not read Tony's maunderings and no, I'm not going to. However, there is one interesting little story that's emerged:
The former Prime Minister describes how he supported pension reforms proposed by Adair Turner but these were opposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at that time. Lord Turner recommended raising the State pension age and restoring some linkage with earnings – both changes now planned by the Coalition Government – but Mr Brown was thought to be against these reforms. Now we know just how much so.

Mr Blair’s book ‘A Journey’ says: “We had been having a huge set-to about Adair Turner’s pension proposals. John Hutton (the pensions secretary) and I both thought them right but Gordon disagreed.

“He was in a venomous mood and I can truthfully say it was the ugliest meeting we had ever had…the temperature which was already below freezing point went Arctic.”

Mr Blair goes on to relate how Mr Brown threatened to call for an inquiry into allegations that wealthy friends of the Prime Minister had gained seats in the House of Lords after making donations to the Labour Party. Mr Blair claims Mr Brown said he would expose what became known as the ‘cash for honours’ scandal unless Lord Turner’s proposals were dropped.

Government is needed because there really are some collective action problems that cannot be solved without the existence of government (sorry anarchists!). But that does not mean that all of the problems of the world are amenable to government action and that we thus require a government so large as to try and solve all such problems.

For, as we can see, those who actually make up government do not in fact attempt to solve those problems. They're far too much like the rest of us fallible human beings, willing to snit and scrabble for short term advantage for themselves while ignoring the large scale and long term problems.

No, I don't say this was unique to Brown: James Buchanan received the Nobel for pointing out that all politicians, all bureaucrats, are susceptible to exactly the same urges. They are, after all, just people and people everywhere react to incentives.

All of which leads us to he conclusion that while we do require government to solve those problems that only government can solve we really don't want them doing anything at all other than what only government can do. For the rest of it we'll make our own mistakes thanks very much.



The AMA and central planning

Physicians of the Florida Medical Association recently sent a message on health care reform to America and the AMA: The FMA has "no confidence" in "the ability of the AMA leadership to effectively protect the Profession of Medicine in America". AMA leadership aided politicians with dark of night votes -- overcoming bipartisan opposition of a bill that had been rejected by the America people. The AMA provided political cover for a government and corporate takeover of medicine that breaks the trust between patients and doctors -- a betrayal of the finest medical care in the history of the world. Americans cannot trust the AMA leadership on health care at this time.

This expansion of power over patients by bureaucrats and corporate accountants is a threat to the lives of Americans. Technocrats are creating a rationing system in America to deny care to people who need it most -- and who paid for it. The AMA endorsed a bill creating panels that are deciding that cancer drugs decreasing suffering at end of life are "too expensive". Committees are coercing doctors to withhold antibiotics at 24 hours after surgery despite proof that this increases infection rates. Panels force doctors to inappropriately give beta blockers to some heart attack patients resulting in shock and accidental death. Arrogant and untouchable elitists are deciding what medical care patients receive -- not patients with doctors as their trusted advisor.

This is an example of a system that has failed throughout history: Central economic planning. Political committees decide the cost and availability of goods and services. Price controls and rationing are imposed, leading to shortages in physicians, medicines, and surgeries that have given Americans the best cancer survival, shortest waiting times and most patient satisfaction. The AMA endorsed a plan without tort reform that allows nurses and pharmacists to practice medicine. It also expands 16 million people into a failed Medicaid system where patients must go to the ER for care and bankrupts our country for our children. The future of waiting lines, rationing, lower quality and bankruptcy are writ large in its proto-type: Romney care in Massachusetts. Like Obamacare, doctors are put on a budget and punished if they spend a penny more on their patients. Medicare and other patients that would seek to escape from this system will lose all the benefits that they earned through a lifetime of payroll theft.

The original proposal at the FMA was to withdraw our delegation to the AMA -- a separate organization. But one doesn't withdraw Congressmen from Washington and the FMA now seeks to have the AMA once again stand up for the medical profession as a trusted servant of the patient -- not a servant of the state or insurance companies. FMA physicians echoed the sentiment of so many Americans today: we have "no confidence" in the ability of elite politicians to preserve medical freedom for our patients.

In an Op. Ed. In the Florida Times-Union, Brian Klepper and David Kibbe attacked me and the FMA as representing the "Old Guard" and fighting against "progressive" change embraced by AMA leadership. The hailed the ability of people like them (who don't practice medicine) to use computers to micromanage medical care and complain that doctors make money by caring for patients - even as these members of the elite special interest culture work as high priced medical industry consultants. Kibbe sold two health information technology companies and now stands to profit from government mandated computer records. Computer records that are more like Big Brother watching to make sure your doctor is "efficiently" saving money for state-run insurance. Big Brother medicine will actively penalize doctors if they don't ration care. No patient can trust their doctor in such a system.

As a member of the "old guard" that puts patients first and bureaucrats and insurance companies last, I am proud to lead the way to send a clear message to the AMA leadership: start standing up for patients. Like most doctors, I see the AMA leadership as betraying American medicine. I am working to repeal government run medicine and replace it with the great FMA plan that puts patients in charge, lowers costs, and increases quality so the best days of medicine will be ahead of us, and not behind us.




Petraeus: Quran burning will endanger American lives: "The US commander of the Afghan war has warned that troops’ lives will be endangered if a Florida evangelical church goes ahead with a planned burning of the Koran on Saturday’s 9/11 anniversary. General David Petraeus said the planned torching of Islam’s holy book would be a propaganda coup for the Taliban in Afghanistan and stoke anti-US sentiment across the Muslim world. The Dove World Outreach Center at Gainesville, Florida says it will burn copies of the Koran on this weekend’s ninth anniversary of the September 11 airborne attacks in protest at what it calls ‘the evil of Islam.’”

Taliban threaten to attack Afghan polling stations: "The Taliban vowed Sunday to attack polling places in Sept. 18 parliamentary elections, warning Afghans not to participate in what it called a sham vote. Meanwhile, two coalition troops, one British and one from the Republic of Georgia, were killed in fighting in the turbulent south, while a political rival of President Hamid Karzai questioned his approach to pending talks with rebels who might be persuaded to abandon the insurgency.”


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


Monday, September 06, 2010

Muslims and Hispanic illegals: Can we judge the present by the past?

I originally wrote the comments below for my IMMIGRATION WATCH blog but I think they have a place here too -- JR

It is generally true that the past is the best guide to the future that we have but that is not to say that it is always a good guide. Does anybody seriously think that (say) America of 100 years ago is the same as the America of today?

Yet by far the commonest argument coming from the Left about immigration in general and about Muslim immigrants in particular is precisely that America of today IS just like the America of 100 years ago. You can read the latest such article in the NYT (by Kristof). It is an argument so hackneyed by now that he could almost have written it in his sleep. Maybe he did.

The argument is that the Irish, Italians and others who came to America in the 19th century were viewed with grave suspicion by many and suffered from discrimination but in the end blended in seamlessly with Americans of other ancestries: The melting pot.

From that Kristoff and others conclude that Muslims will eventually "melt" into a homogeneous American population also. And perhaps many will. But there are two crucial difference that will at least greatly hinder full integration:

1). In the 19th and most of the 20th century, immigrants were EXPECTED to assimilate whereas these days multiculturalism reigns and the very word "assimilate" is almost an obscenity to the Left.

2). The Italians, Irish and Poles came from CHRISTIAN backgrounds so had a considerable degree of common culture with Americans originating from earlier waves of immigration. More to the point they did not come from a culture that DESPISES Christian and post-Christian civilization, whereas Muslims do.

It is a basic imperative of Islam to attack and if possible conquer other civilizations -- and they have been doing it more or less continuously ever since the conquests led by Mohammed himself. They were even attacking Christian targets at the time of America's War of Independence and President Jefferson sent warships to combat them.

So the wave of Muslim immigrants is a wave of people whose basic teachings are hostile to America. That has never happened before and therefore makes comparisons with previous immigrant waves invalid.

The controversy over the "Ground Zero" mosque in NYC has of course brought to the fore the question of how Americans should react to Muslims in their midst. I myself, as an Australian living in the happy obscurity of a small Australian city most people have never even heard of, have no dog in that fight. I think the response to the mosque proposal is for New Yorkers and New Yorkers alone to judge. But I don't think it is unreasonable for New Yorkers to be hostile to anything Muslim given the hostility of Islam to the West.

But Muslims are still a very small immigrant group in America and the long-standing argument about immigration to America is about Latino illegals, not Muslims. And here we see the same argument from the Left: People who arrived legally from Europe a century or so ago eventually assimilated so people who arrive illegally from Mexico (etc.) will also eventually assimilate. And no doubt many will and in fact many have already done so.

But arriving legally and arriving illegally are two very different things and Europe is also very different from Latin America. Europe is the fountainhead of modern civilization whereas Latin America is a civilizational backwater (to put it kindly). So once again there are large differences between earlier arrivals and recent ones that create considerable potential for outcomes different from what we have seen in the past.

And the omens for Hispanic illegals assimilating are not good. The children of Irish, Polish, Italian (etc.) legal immigrants became indistinguishable from other Americans but that is not so with the Hispanics. That Hispanics have a notably higher crime-rate than non-Hispanic whites is concern enough but their children are even worse, even more prone to criminality. As well as black gang-bangers America now has a proliferation of Hispanic gang bangers. Far from assimilating into the mainstream, the children of the illegals have moved even further away from it.

So once again the complexities of reality upset the simplistic theories of the Left. Neither in the case of Muslims nor in the case of Hispanic illegals can we expect the universal assimilation of the past. Permanently hostile subgroups are instead to be expected. Americans are right to be concerned about that.


More democracy needed

Yes, a divide exists. There are two Americas. Those who believe in the “wisdom of crowds” and those who believe in the wisdom of Washington elites. It is a much more meaningful dichotomy to examine than the two parties.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen seems to understand this best. His Rasmussen Reports polling company constantly asks questions the establishment polling outfits don’t. For one, he breaks down his poll respondents into the “Political Class” and “Mainstream Americans.”

Now, I’m not certain the three-question test he uses to separate folks into these groups is the absolute best way to do so, but one doesn’t have to buy into Rasmussen’s specific criteria to see that his general conception is an interesting prism through which to view politics.

Last month, by Rasmussen’s criteria, 67 percent of people in the “Political Class” said the country is headed in the right direction, while 84 percent of so-called Mainstream Americans said we’re headed the wrong way. Other Rasmussen surveys show similar massive chasms between the views of the Political Class and Mainstream Americans.

On Friday, Rasmussen Reports released polling showing that 71 percent of Americans support requiring a national vote to approve any changes in Social Security passed by Congress. When it comes to raising taxes 61 percent of us want a tax hike approved by Congress to go to a national vote to be approved or rejected by the people, with 33 in opposition.

A national vote? Those who believe “representative government” to be a device to get the unwashed masses arms-length or further from deciding any issue of governance will bemoan such a vote as unworkable and dangerous. Those who believe representative government is all about the people actually being represented will have no dilemma with allowing the people to represent themselves at the ballot box.

On the issue of a national vote there is again a stark difference of opinion between the Political Class, who oppose a public vote on changes to Social Security (60%) or on raising taxes (73%), and Mainstream Americans, who support a vote on entitlement changes (78%) and tax increases (72%).

Rasmussen Reports is ahead of the game in another way, too. He’s been tracking the key political question of all: Does our government have the consent of the governed?

The answer in July was that 23 percent of us feel the government has that consent; 62 percent believe it does not. That’s actually an improvement from February, when only 21 percent felt the government possessed public consent.

Obviously, we don’t trust our government. Just as obviously, we shouldn’t. Our government must earn our trust. Politicians can start this process by trusting the wisdom and common sense of the people.

Last January, I suggested a three-issue commitment all candidates worthy of support should have no difficulty embracing: support for term limits, ballot initiative and referendum, and transparency. Political leaders capable of representing Mainstream Americans must (1) agree to hold power only temporarily, with a departure date certain, (2) serve us by establishing a process where “We the People” get to vote and trump the political elite, and (3) provide the public the information necessary to judge the decisions made by government.

We want our rulers to become our servants. It’s history’s rarest achievement.



The developing Obama depression

This week President Obama took to the White House press corps and by extension to the nation to claim that the nation saw job growth of 67,000 jobs in August. Even if this number was real it would be a pitifully tiny percent of the 14,885,000 who are both on unemployment (1 in 10 Americans) as well as those 23,768,000 who are underemployed (working but not earning enough for basic needs - 1 in 5 families).

The bigger problem for the president however is that the number isn't real. The fact is the nation saw 114,000 people added to the unemployment lines in August and the net jobs lost for the month sat at 54,000. In all the "summer of recovery"--as both President Obama and Vice President Biden pronounced it--saw 238,000 more jobs disappear.

Telling the nation that his plans have taken the economy in the right direction, and implying that the nation is seeing a recovery in the area of employment is either willfully dishonest, or painfully, even treacherously naive. At the rate of this "recovery" another 317,333 workers could be sitting on the sidelines before the end of the year.

Additionally we are now on track to see the single largest collection of tax increases ever proposed take the Obama economy even further into the tank. In less than 120 days President Obama's plan to add a collective 18.6% to the federal tax burden will continue the economic downward spiral into record breaking depression-era territory. And remember he repeatedly said--on the campaign trail--that he should be elected expressly to prevent the nation's economy from complete deterioration.

Instead unemployment that was growing in the transition from Bush to Obama has exploded to double what it was under Bush. Even worse this means that while 14,885,000 Americans are claiming unemployment assistance, some 23,768,000 families are presently struggling through work that they have but are unable to meet their basic needs.

And about the time we are belting out Auld Lang Syne this holiday season, President Obama will raise all five income levels of tax categories between 3-5%.

Ironically the President will be raising the rate on the category that is home to seventy-five percent of all small businesses in America by the largest increase. I call it ironic because it is the small business community in America that hires 2 out of every 3 new workers in America. Eventually it all adds up.

The president is not pushed on this issue by the press. The president's team pretends that these realities do not exist. The president himself is willing to perpetuate the false notion that the stimulus package set up a "recovery summer" that in truth ended up in greater pain than it began with.

None of this takes into effect the additional costs that will be incurred by taxpayers when the full implementation of President Obama's control of one-sixth of the economy through the manipulation of how we receive health care benefits kicks in. And not that it has great likelihood of passing this year, but if by some miracle it did, the Obama tax penalties that would be incurred by every citizen in the nation under the proposed "Cap & Trade" legislation would add even greater misery to the growing pile.

All of these pending tax increases will be put into effect against well more than 95% of American tax-payers. Speaking of which that certainly contradicts his most famous campaign line.

In 1929 Irving Fisher observed that a number of trends led to the worst depression of our nation's history. How many of these fit in today's scenario:

Debt liquidation and distress selling; Contraction of the money supply as bank loans are paid off; A fall in the level of asset prices; A still greater fall in the net worths of business, precipitating bankruptcies; A fall in profits; A reduction in output, in trade and in employment; Pessimism and loss of confidence; Hoarding of money; A fall in nominal interest rates and a rise in deflation adjusted interest rates.

President Obama is ignoring and misrepresenting the rate of growth (or lack thereof) in the job numbers, and his economic team has laid the groundwork for the harshest attack on small businesses and every family in America that pays taxes effective January 1, 2011.

By every indicator this pundit can see, we are poised for tragedy



The Modern Left and Islam are both forms of political nihilism

It is the thesis of this commentary that both socialism and Islam are forms of political nihilism, and that both contend that the life of the individual has no intrinsic meaning or value outside of their systems. One ascribes meaning to the individual as a unit of society and its servant, and no more than that. The other ascribes meaning to the individual as a debtor to and servant of a supreme being, and no more than that.

What are the commonalities of secular statism (or socialism) and Islam? What premises do they share? What are their shared ends? Are those ends similar or dissimilar or radically divergent? The ends are demonstrably dissimilar and divergent. What unites them?

The chief commonality between socialism and Islam is the deep-seated hatred -- and I would say is the fundamental motive of both socialism and Islam, its desiderative essence -- of the West, specifically of capitalism, of individual rights, and of freedom of speech. And particularly of America.

What is it about those three hallmarks of Western culture that arouses the shared animosity? They are the requirements of an independent, unobstructed, free-to-act, selfish, value-driven, and life-affirming man. They are the descriptive attributes that cannot be permitted in a totalitarian society. They are diametrically opposite of what secular statism and Islam require to function. They are the unified, integrated nemesis of collectivism. They do not describe the “ideal” man in either ideology. Such a man must be eradicated, destroyed. And once destroyed, such a man in either system cannot be permitted to come into existence.

Much more HERE

There is a big new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)